When Volunteers Don't Show Up

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Without volunteers most children’s ministry would have a difficult time managing the many details of ministering to children. From leading at the crafts table to distributing snacks to teaching, willing hands make it happen. Most of the time, they work without all the recognition they deserve and of course, pay. However, because you do depend on them so much, it’s really an inconvenience when one doesn’t show up–especially repeatedly. So what do you do when volunteers don’t show up?
First, take a deep breath and smile. It’s probably not something you’ve done or an intentional action on the part of the volunteer. That being said, it’s good to know a little bit more about your volunteer. Actually, there are three kinds of volunteers: Those who sign up but don’t show up, those who show up but don’t want to be on the schedule and those who sign up and show up. You’ll probably recognize right away which categories your current helpers fall under.
If you have volunteers who don’t show up, it could be for several reasons.
They were motivated by guilt. The volunteer has a child in your class and felt like she should help out. She didn’t really want to be there but she signed up anyway. As you can see, guilt is never a lasting motivator. That volunteer won’t last very long. You want volunteers who feel inspired, who want to help but not because they are motivated by guilt or embarrassment.
The volunteer wasn’t clear on the attendance procedure. Perhaps your volunteer feels like he or she didn’t really matter. It’s quite possible that your helper didn’t know you completely depended on him or that the other helper called in. Make sure your volunteers have a good way to get a hold of you, in case of emergency. Keep those lines of communication open and encourage them to call you when they need to.
Perhaps your volunteer isn’t ready to serve. It’s entirely possible that your volunteer is “called” to children’s ministry but just isn’t ready to serve yet. You’ll have to demonstrate some patience and avoid rushing the process. Let your potential helper know that you can always use her help later.
Volunteering is a privilege and it’s easy to forget how nerve-wracking it can be when you’re new. Prayerfully consider who to invite on your team. Remember the more value you place on volunteering, the more contagious it is for others who may be tentative about helping out.

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