Last month, Dr. Denise Muir-Kjesbo shared this question with the students of the Advanced Certificate in Children’s Ministry: How do you get the right people into the right roles and keep them there?

Here’s what we learned from this incredible conversation:

·We call our volunteers “partners” – direct them to an Essentials Class (4 weeks) – designed to cast vision for serving at the church and then works through individual’s gifting.Then they meet with a team for an hour that talks through the roles and what might be a good fit and where they are in their spiritual walk.They are then referred to the ministry leadership team where they want to serve, have coffee, meet and chat, do background checks and plug them in.The commitment to the process sets the stage for what is expected of them and if they cannot do the larger commitment we plug them into an area with a smaller commitment. It also helps build community and demonstrate interest in them not just in what they can give us!

·Offer appreciation suppers, annual Family Dodgeball game with the “Orange Antlers” as the coveted prize.

·Relationships are key – meet regularly, check in on their needs as people.Regular coffee times and check ins on how they are doing spiritually.

·”Circle time” – checking in on how they are doingwith their small group involvements – and “Row Time” – where they are serving

·Recruitment is year round!

·This is an area of BIG struggle – it has been helpful to read other’s responses!

·Start with one – invite others to observe – get support from the pulpit!

·Building personal relationships and training are the key – providing supplies and asking volunteers what they need is helpful – putting the volunteer where they best fit, allow them to observe first – Prayer is the most powerful tool in recruiting and keeping volunteers!

·Our process is relatively informal – Education Committee works with senior pastor and brainstorm people who can serve, approach them individually,

·Sometimes have used a survey in the bulletin that covers all areas of service – ask people to prayerfully consider and then return

·Scoreboard with “Have””Need” number of volunteers for each area – prominently displayed in the foyer – kept it before the people visually

·Volunteer Appreciation Sunday at the end of the school year – may include a lunch or recognition in Sunday morning service with a small gift- favorite gift was a hand written note from one of the parents of the children in the class

·Have tried many things over the years – this is an area of perpetual struggle!We no longer “beg” people to be involved – rather we “invite” them to join a team.I regularly check in but encourage them to check in on each other as well – increases ownership!

·We want people to serve where their talents are!If they serve where they love they are more likely to keep serving!

·We use our youth – special teen application form with places they can serve.They always serve along with an adult.Some of our most dedicated volunteers are young adults who started serving as teens!

·Relationship, Encouragement, Appreciation and Evaluation are the keys!Three Avenues:Personal ask, main stage recruitment, email campaign.Once someone volunteers they observe, hear vision casting and have an interview.Sometimes the leader can see where a volunteer would flourish more than the volunteer can see themselves.Regular check ins, having a goodie tray for them to enjoy, giving a small gift every holiday, holding community building events where volunteers can get to know one another better and build a sense of team.

·We call them “Team Members” rather than volunteers – observe for a few weeks, then be an assistant- we prep the lesson for them each week so they just have to show up having looked through the lesson the week before – appreciation meals several times a year – love getting feedback (positive and negative) – birthday and anniversary cards – gift cards out of the blue

The Advanced Certificate Program is an amazing way for children’s pastors and children’s ministry leaders to earn a certificate in children’s ministry. The program is offered as a partnership between Bethel Seminary and the International Network of Children’s Ministry. To learn more about the program and sign up for more information, visit