It’s the time of year for every children’s ministry worker…you know, right? It’s Volunteer Recruitment Time! Our church did an amazing job of educating the entire church body on service and calling them to commit to an area of service inside or outside the church. It’s been amazing to watch people, young and old, step up to serve all across the church.
As I talked with those who have committed to serving in the preteen ministry, I’m trying a new approach. Normally when we find a great volunteer with high leadership capacity, we hold onto that person for dear life and never let them graduate out of our ministry area. I know that my tactic in the past was to push people into the holes that I thought needed to be filled rather than really listening to their heart and providing an opportunity to serve in the place that God is leading them. This year is different.
My approach involves three things: vision, celebration, and a question.
I begin by casting the vision for what we want our preteen small groups to be. And a HUGE part of that is calling the leaders to commit to spending two years with the same group. We want them to at least spend the 5th and 6th grade years walking alongside the same group of boys or girls. And instead of desperately trying to hold on to them, we encourage them to move into student ministry with their group. We just believe that this will be the best setup for life-change in the lives of students. But this takes a big decision and big commitment. That leads perfectly to the next part.
To help them see why this is so important and why we are asking them to make such a big commitment, we celebrate leaders who have done so already. We have leaders that have been with the same group of kids for several years and it is evident that their commitment has led to great fruit. We talk about those leaders and the effectiveness of their service. We share story after story of how leaders were able to be a part of a students decision to trust Christ, their baptism, and their spiritual growth. We talk about how leaders have guided students through tough times because they were trusted mentors by the child and the parents. Just hearing these stories helps a person to see how their investment can lead to life-change.
Finally, I just ask them if they are able and willing to make that commitment. If they can’t make that commitment, it doesn’t mean we don’t want them to serve. There are places for them to serve, but leading a small group may not be the best fit.
We want to provide the most optimum environment for life change, and that means we must set the bar high for our leaders. We’re not 100% there yet, but my prayer is that over the next few years we reach a point where we no longer have to ask them to make such a commitment because it is just the norm.