Learning To Trust Your Children's Ministry Volunteers

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One key to children’s ministry leadership is learning to trust your volunteers. In this post, I want to give you some practical tips to make that happen. First I want to remind you why trusting your people matters. The following is true for Sunday School teachers, nursery workers, and even VBS directors.

What Happens When You Really Trust Your People

  1. They feel empowered to fully use the creativity and ministry gifts that God has given them.
  2. They discover the joy of serving God through the children’s ministry, which is always a better than doing their time in the children’s ministry.
  3. Self-directed people will be more inclined to volunteer (or continue serving) through the children’s ministry.
  4. You will free yourself from the stress of micro-managing the ministry.
  5. You will learn to trust God to provide the people resources needed to accomplish his dream for the children in your church.

There is probably more I could say about it, but these are some basic positive outcomes. If this idea gets you excited, please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Now, how can you make this happen? How can you promote a high trust culture in the children’s ministry you are leading?

Four Practical Ways To Trust The People Serving In Your Ministry

1. Make a habit of saying, “I trust your judgment on this.”

It takes some humility, but usually volunteers are in a better position to make decisions about “details” than I am. For example, I let a trusted nursery worker tell me what supplies we need in the church nursery. Recently, she even does the shopping. This is brilliant because she is much more qualified to make those detail oriented decisions.

2. Ask trusted volunteers for input.

Find a handful of highly committed and competent children’s ministry servants and then poll them for advice. It does not need to be a formal committee, just sent them emails to get their opinions. For example, you could write something like this. “Hi Kellie – I’m looking at next year’s calendar and wanted to get your opinion about VBS dates. It looks like these two options are the strongest; let me know what you think. Thanks again for serving the God through this ministry!

3. Know and admit your limits.

This goes back to humility, but it is a reminder we all need. None of us are “the best” at everything, and we need help more often than we admit. Do not pretend like you can do it all because you are in charge. In my church, several people have the skills and experience to do my job better than I do. But ministry is more than a job and God has placed me here for his own reasons. So, I trust him, work very hard, and admit my limits. In the end, people will actually respect you more, especially as you avoid the “I can do it all” bottleneck.

4. Deal with letdowns right away.

One deeper reason we do not trust our volunteers is the fear that they will fail us. But confronting these situations are a key to moving the ministry forward. This should always be done in love, even if your feelings were hurt. I would recommend face-to-face, but use the phone rather than waiting.
For example, a volunteer does not show up for their ministry assignment during children’s church. Later that afternoon, you should call them and say something to the point like this. “Hello Bob, I was just calling because you missed your ministry assignment this morning. Is everything okay?”  They may have forgotten or they may have been slipping in commitment. In either case, it is important to affirm their service but also advocate for the children. You could say something like this, “Bob, I really appreciate the way you have been serving God through the children’s ministry. I can see how God has gifted you to make a real difference in the lives of children. But I’m also concerned that we don’t let the children down. Is there anything I can do to help you meet your commitments?
Obviously, this situation will vary greatly depending on your relationship with the volunteer. But it is very important to deal with letdowns right away.

How Are You Learning To Trust Your People?

This is something that I’m still learning how to do. So, I would love to read your comments about building trust with your children’s ministry volunteers.

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