What To Do When Your Volunteers Are Worn Out?

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Something begins to happen in our Wednesday night program every spring. Our volunteers start to get run down. Worse than that – I start to feel tired of the program too.
I’m guessing this is typical for children’s ministry programs. The school year has its own rhythm and life cycle. Fall is constant energy. Kids are making new friends and catching up with each other after the summer break. Things settle down, and then Christmas adds to the energy with holiday parties, pageants and too much candy. Next comes the build up to Easter. Spring Break comes and goes and then the weather starts to change. We all start counting down the final handful of school weeks.
Then I get the phone call, “Tony, we’ve just had a busy week, can I get a sub at church tonight?” I assure them we can adjust and I try to encourage them to put family first. But when these kind of calls come too often, it’s a sure sign that people are getting worn out.
This all set me thinking, what should I do when my volunteers are losing focus?
1. Evaluate what the program is costing the volunteers.
Always remember that you are called to shepherd the children and the volunteers in the ministry. Most families are wildly over committed and really struggle to follow through. Ask yourself, “Are we being sensitive with our service expectations?”
2. Look for ways to renew their vision for the ministry.
We all loose focus, especially after several months serving in the same program. It is vital that your ministry leaders keep the program’s goals in mind. Remind them how God is working through their service to bring children to himself. Remind them how learning God’s Word will make the difference in their lives twenty years from now. Remind them of the eternal kingdom Jesus is building when they share his Gospel with the kids.
3. Remember The Gospel
Being tired should remind us how much we depend on God. He is our creator and holds up our very existence. Being worn out is part of being a creature in this fallen world. But remember the day is coming when the Kingdom of Heaven will rule on Earth. Our Gospel labors will be seem short when Jesus appears, so work hard while it is day.
4. Give them all a break.
Don’t be a slave to the calendar. If the situation warrants, arrange for a one-week break from the program. We have one scheduled next week while I’m away at a pastors’ conference. Be wise with this move, make sure to listen to your key leaders and communicate any schedule changes well in advance.
5. Pray for God’s direction and blessing to finish the year well.
After all, it is God’s grace that makes any real ministry possible. Be sure to seek his support and strength to make it through. Pray that he would make the final weeks of the program the best.
6. Consider a shorter schedule next year.
We’re already talking about a simplified schedule for the next school year. I made the mistake of having Upward Soccer overlap our Wednesday night children’s programs. This was very taxing on our most involved people and the quality of both programs suffered. Next year, we want to space things out.
What do you think?
I would love to hear your ideas about encouraging worn out volunteers. How do you get your people through the final stretch of the your school year programs? Click here to post your comments.
photo credit: aidantmorgan

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