In the world of kidmin, volunteers are our lifeline. We live and die on our volunteers. There are so many pieces to navigate with our volunteers…recruiting, training, communication, follow-up, building relationships, getting them to show up, and figuring out what to do when they don’t. It’s a never-ending juggling act.
Those of us who work with volunteers in any capacity can totally relate to Deborah’s song in Judges 5, “My heart is with…the willing volunteers among the people. Praise the Lord!” (Judges 5:9 NIV). When we have “willing volunteers” step up and do their parts in God’s kingdom and our local churches, it makes us want to “praise the Lord!” Once the celebrating has died down a bit, what’s next?
Here are our “next steps” for a person who expresses a desire and willingness to serve in ministry to kids…
- Complete an application. The application needs to be thorough, but take less than three days to complete! Ask for contact information, experience, relationship with Jesus, references, and a social security number (so you can run a background check).
- Run a background check. Creating safe environments must be a top priority in kidmin. Be sure to run a local, state, and nation-wide background check for anyone over 18 years of age. It is a small expense, but totally worth it (definitely beats a lawsuit!). We use…
- Call the references. Yes, actually call them and ask 3-5 questions about how the person interacts with children and if they would allow them to be responsible for their own kids. Here are the 5 questions we ask…
- Meet them face to face. The Holy Spirit loves to help us be wise and discerning when vetting those who will be caring for those so precious in His sight.
- Have them shadow. Pair them up with one of your more experienced volunteers or leaders to let them get a feel for an age-group, your format, and what they would be doing in a room. Having someone serve in their “sweet spot” make all the difference for helping a new volunteer catch the vision for ministry to kids.
- Require Orientation. We have found that our most well-attended meetings and trainings happen when people are already at church – during service. The purpose of orientation is to inspire and equip your new volunteers, and should cover all of the policies and procedures for safety, supervision, discipline, restrooms, diaper-changing, emergency procedures, etc. Something that has helped us ensure every volunteer goes through orientation is to require attendance in order to receive their t-shirt (or whatever visual identifier you have for your volunteers).
- Get them placed and on the schedule quickly. They’re interested, they’re vetted, they’re trained, they’re ready…they’re “willing volunteers,” so “praise the Lord!”
Written by Dr. Ellen Moore. Ellen serves as the lead children’s pastor of our church and leads the Equip KidMin team.
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