In urgent attempts to fill our teaching rosters, many ministry leaders are guilty of recruiting workers by telling them “This will be easy!” and “No, this won’t take much time out of your week!”
I understand why people say this. I’ve said this. But as the years have passed, I have realized that doing so has sold my ministry and my kids short.
As KidMin leaders, we have the privilege of teaching the most important thing in the entire world: the gospel. I hope these ten ideas for recruiting, training, and retaining incredible children’s ministry workers will be helpful as you pursue this worthy task.
1. Pray, then ask people directly.
There’s just something about meeting face-to-face that communicates your sincerity and that issues a measure of accountability.
Pray and ask God to reveal to you the people he is calling to lead kids. Ask him to go before you, to prepare prospects’ hearts, and to make way for your conversation.
2. Set the bar high.
“This will be easy” indirectly communicates that the work is unimportant and that children don’t require quality learning experiences.
Therefore, cast a vision of the high calling of children’s ministry for your current and prospective leaders. Tell them that the expectation is that they will need to spend time in prayer, study, and preparation each week.
Set the bar high and call people up to reach for it. Kids are worth it. The gospel is worth it.
3. Honor your team.
You’re not looking for warm bodies to fulfill an adult-to-child ratio; you’re looking for under-shepherds to minister to the tiniest among your flock.
Give your team titles to reflect their valuable roles. Leader and Worker communicate a sense of responsibility and commitment that Volunteer just doesn’t.
4. Clearly communicate your expectations.
Think through each step of preparing for and executing each role in your ministry area, and explain these details when recruiting new workers. Also, think about “teaching terms.” Are you asking them to lead for a quarter? A semester? A year?
Communicate details up front so prospects know exactly what they’re agreeing to when they accept your call to lead and so they know when they may step aside if God calls them to serve elsewhere or if they need a sabbatical.
5. Make friendly asks.
Set aside a special, intentional time and space to make your ask elevates the seriousness and authenticity of your request. Consider taking prospects out for a meal or a cup of coffee.
Explain to your prospect why you’ve chosen him or her. Identify the God-given gifts and traits you’ve observed that sets him aside for children’s ministry.
God has given us our gifts for the kingdom. Be a good and more comprehensive steward of your role as disciplemaker by helping people see how God has gifted them and by connecting them to ministries that strengthen your church.
6. Don’t ask alone.
Ask your current leaders to pray about people in their small groups who may be fit for KidMin. Once they’ve identified new potential leaders, equip them to ask.
This not only alleviates some of the pressure from your shoulders, but it equips your leaders to more effectively make disciples among their peers as they call them up to ministry and service in the church. Plus, serving with friends is fun!
7. Celebrate your leaders.
As much as possible, take the time to celebrate your leaders. Call attention to the incredible things God is doing through your workers. Share stories of salvation, of innovative ministry ideas, and of other victories and wins.
Pass out treats or coffee gift cards. Host a meal to thank your workers. Consider selecting a “Teacher of the Year” or even honoring a leader quarterly by hanging her picture on the bulletin board or submitting it to the church newsletter.
Or, simply just stop by leaders’ classrooms to give compliments or words of personalized thanks.
When people feel seen, respected, and valuable, they’re more likely to remain committed to their tasks. Encourage your workers by recognizing the fruits of their labors.
8. MAWL your leaders.
A helpful leadership development tool I learned while in seminary is the acronym, MAWL: Model, Assist, Watch, Leave.
Good leaders reproduce themselves by modeling ministry, assisting apprentice leaders, watching apprentices as they take on responsibilities, and then leaving them to lead independently.
MAWL-ing ministry apprentices provides a clear, four phase process for training up new leaders and for instilling in them a sense of peace and confidence as they prepare to serve.
9. Host multiple training sessions.
In addition to the ongoing and organic MAWL structure, you will also want to build in times for formal and intentional leader training.
Many churches have a yearly children’s ministry training at the start of a new school year. Consider, also, hosting a mid-year refresher course or recording short informational videos to share with your leaders throughout the year.
10. Sharing is caring.
Read books with your leaders, create a list of recommended reading or other training materials, and write summaries after you attend conferences. Stretch the reach of your time and dollars by sharing the knowledge you receive with others.
Some of my favorite resources you could use when equipping your leaders are:
–Questions Kids Ask podcast
-Training events hosted locally, regionally, or nationally by your denomination
-The ETCH Family Ministry Conference
The harvest is plentiful and the workers seem few; but with vision and intentionality, you can identify and steward those workers for the good of your church and for the glory of God!
Bekah Stoneking serves as Content Editor for Explore the Bible: Kids, teaches preschool Sunday School at The Church at Avenue South, and is a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She has experience as a children’s minister and elementary school teacher and she is passionate about teaching, learning, making disciples, and equipping others to do the same.