Thriving children’s ministry with volunteer leadership

Of our 140+ Covenant churches in the Northwest Conference, less than 20 have staff devoted full-time to children’s ministry. Forty have part-time staff and nearly 90 of our Conferences churches have children’s ministries that are led by volunteers.

When your church is staffed at less than capacity, building a thriving ministry with children and families will require more intentionality, and a mentality that views leadership for children’s ministry as more than simply “covering the bases.”

Here are five things to consider with your volunteer-led children’s ministry.

1. Are expectations clear and appropriate?

We all like to know what we’re being asked to do. Even volunteers will benefit from having a job description. Those who work in children’s ministry are generally resourceful, passionate and dedicated to the task. Without clear and reasonable expectations, children’s ministry can become a hamster wheel of details that leads to burnout.

2. Are priorities clear?

In ministry, there will always be work that doesn’t get done. Make peace with the fact that your church won’t be able to offer all the programs of the church down the street. Discern what you will be about, and do that well.

3. Is there a clear chain of command?

To whom is the children’s ministry leader accountable? Is it clear how decisions are made, budget is managed, facilities are maintained, supplies and curriculum are determined, and what safety policies are implemented? Clearly articulating all of this up front helps to avoid the difficult situation of giving someone responsibility over something without authority to make it happen.

4. Does the ministry leader have a seat at the table?

In other words, who will advocate for this ministry area when broad leadership decisions are made? For example, a leadership team may decide to have multiple Christmas Eve services, then inform the children’s ministry team that childcare is needed. How would the conversation change if children’s ministry leaders were invited to give voice on the front end about how to creatively meet the needs of families during Advent?

5. What is the plan for training?

God has a long history of equipping those God calls, and children’s ministry is no exception. Intentional training and connections helps our volunteer leadership move from a place of “filling holes,” to strategic investment in the lives of kids and families. Help your volunteer leaders be successful by encouraging a learning mentality that allows your leaders to grow into the role to which God has called them.

Thank you to all of the children’s ministry leaders and volunteers for your work with kids and families. Praying along with you that your ministry impacts lives and kids, and families will know the love of God.