Here’s a blog post I wrote for My Healthy Church: Kids, you can find a lot of good resources on their site.
A good friend of mine shared a story about when he was praying for an increase in his ministry. He heard God ask him, “What are you doing with what I’ve already given you?” If we faithfully steward the volunteers God has entrusted us with, He will meet and exceed our needs! In order for God to do His part, we have to make sure we are doing our part first.
So, how do we properly manage and care for our volunteers?
The big word here is ENGAGEMENT. We must engage with our volunteers on a personal level. Engagement goes beyond starting a Facebook group for everyone to “connect” through; it goes beyond having a nice volunteer break room with snacks and coffee (although both of these are good things.) Engagement means taking time to be with your team. Engagement means living life together. Don’t read that wrong, I’m not saying you have to have everyone over to your house for a weekly dinner. But likewise, not all of your interaction with your team can be business related. Pray for needs. Invite volunteers out to a team lunch after church on Sunday (you don’t have to buy; the fellowship is sufficient). Facebook stalk people and ask them about events that happened that week. Show an interest in your team beyond just making sure they show up at their scheduled ministry time. Creating an environment that your volunteers find inviting and caring will fix your recruitment problems. If you make children’s ministry a place that people want to be, other people will also want to be there.
Once you have people involved, to keep them, you must make sure you are also keeping track of them. This goes to the stewardship I referred to above. There are many excellent resources for tracking volunteers. Currently, we use Planning Center for scheduling and e-mailing our team. This is a great tool, but not every church can afford it. The particular tool isn’t important; having a tool is! Never underestimate a good old Excel spreadsheet. Here’s what I make sure I have: Name, cell phone number, e-mail, address, birthday, wedding anniversary, and volunteer start date. With those seven items, I can manage my team effectively. Why? Because they give me key dates to connect with people (send a card on each of the dates to show your appreciation) and all the contact information I need to communicate clearly with my team. Communication is another form of ENGAGEMENT.
Now, make sure you use the information! Use E-mail, Facebook, postcards, handwritten notes, or letters; communicate with your team regularly. This is the biggest key to managing your volunteers—connect and engage with them consistently! You can’t manage what you don’t know. Connecting with your team lets you get to know them and better meet their needs. As Jim Wideman always says, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure and what you don’t measure, you will lose.” Engaging with your team is the key to effectively managing them.