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“We just do not have enough volunteers.”  Let’s face it, no matter how small or large your church is, finding quality volunteers is a chore.  Even the best children’s ministries have to be intentional about constantly recruiting and training volunteers.

In a small church, you are dealing with a much smaller pool of people to choose from and many people who would make great candidates are already up to their eyeballs in church work.  So what’s a person to do?

The answer is easy.  Beg.  Beg by sending emails.  Beg on your church’s website.  Beg on your church’s Facebook page and daily beg on the profiles of people in your church.  Put a plea in your bulletin.  Announce it from the stage, while crying, and with the cutest kid in the church there with you, also crying.  And once you realize that this method will never work, read the rest of this article.

First off, recognize the advantages you have by working in a small church. 

  • You do not need as many volunteers as a much larger church.  This thought alone should relieve you of all kinds of stress.
  • You can personally recruit, meet, and train each volunteer.  This element helps place volunteers in the right place the first time and increases sustainability.
  • Along with that, you probably already have a good idea of each person’s strengths and can better utilize their giftings. 
  • Small churches are better equipped to keep the vision of their kids’ ministry in front of your people at all times.

Once you’ve done this, it’s time to recruit. 

Make a list of every single spot you need filled right now.  Depending on your giftings, this list may be highly organized and serve as an organizational flow chart or it might just be a list.  Either is fine (at least for now).

Write two names beside each spot.  You are going to have to realize that these people may not be rockstars…scatch that…will not be rockstars on day one.  You are going to have to train them and help them achieve that.

Just ask.  It seems too simple to be true, but the absolute best way to get someone to join up is to ask them in person.  If I am going to ask someone to help me, here is a sample of how I might do it.

Hi Wayne.  I’ve noticed that you have a great ability with Excel spreadsheets.  One of the things our kids ministry could really use to help us get to that next level is someone to help keep track of our attendance data.  Would this be something you’d be interested in helping with?  Why don’t you think about it this week and I’ll talk to you more next Sunday.

While this short little conversation assumes a lot of things (a relationship with Wayne, that Wayne is at least aware we have a kids’ ministry, etc.), it also contains some key elements I use in getting help.  I acknowledged Wayne’s strengths, showed him how those strengths could be useful, gave him a way out, and gave him a finite time frame to think about it.

Some may challenge here and say that I didn’t cast the vision for the kids’ ministry.  I haven’t done that, because my hope is that in a small church, the vision of the kids’ ministry is always out in front.  Another small advantage of the small church is the ability of the children’s leader to be in front of the congregation often.  People don’t wonder if there is a leader, they know who it is.  In  a small church (I’m thinking less than 250) the children’s leader should be known by the whole church by more than just their picture on the staff page of the website.

Small church leaders, what am I missing here?  How do you recruit people to help?  Or are you just doing everything yourself (been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, and I don’t recommend it)?