Stepping Up - Encouraging Volunteer Growth
As a leader in Children's Ministries it can often be hard to not only build your team, but also to help foster their growth. This was one of the topics raised at the Gracelink Training held in February.
"How can we get our team to step-up?" or "How can we foster and encourage the growth of our volunteers?"
Occasionally in Children's Ministries a Church is fortunate enough to have some skilled, trained or experienced, passionate volunteer step up into ministry - but quite often in Children's Ministries the volunteers begin as parents who have a willingness or vested interest, but feel they have no real knowledge or ability, especially when it comes to leadership.
Once you are fortunate to have a Leader in place (you), the next thought needs to be about the team and what happens to the ministry when we can no longer continue as Leader? In a team where the members are growing in knowledge and confidence, this is not a problem - but if the members are not growing personally, if they are not being equipped - what then?
In discussion here were some ideas that were suggested for growing-up and encouraging volunteers:
Have a good roster system
There are many Churches where volunteers can be on a roster 'every so often' and for just a section of the program - therefore they can give at a commitment and responsibility level that they are comfortable with. If they find success and appreciation, over time, this will grow.
Start them small
Consider inviting parents or other volunteers to take a small part: perhaps handing out props; greeting children; listening to memory verses; etc. and as the relationship grows along with their confidence, see if they are willing to take on slightly larger roles.
Work with them
Support of the Team Leader goes a long way in encouraging and fostering growth. Offer your support and help should they require it - but be careful not to take over or do it for them as this only says "I do a better job than you can".
Build Volunteer Partnerships
It can be beneficial to pair new or inexperienced volunteers with a more experienced volunteer so that they can work together - with the new one gaining wisdom and confidence from their more experienced partner.
Encourage Parent Involvement
In an environment where informal parent involvement is encouraged, you will find that many parents will naturally start to step-up. Do you run craft time? Watch for those parents who help the other children around them. Are you doing a song or activity and need a volunteer or helper for a moment? Consider asking one of the less involved parents.
In many ways, it comes down to relationship. Does your team feel supported and encouraged, that their ideas are welcomed and their questions answered, and that they can grow and develop (but at their own pace)? Get to know your team. Get to know your families.
And above all, surrender. Surrender yourself, your team and your ministry to God - for He can move mountains!