How to Recruit Lifetime Small Group Leaders

long term, 3D rendering, blue street sign

Volunteer recruitment is most likely one of the hardest and most time-consuming aspects of your job. You never have enough helpers to get it all done, and when you are finally getting to that place of calm, someone asks if you have time to talk. What if you could walk over to the wide open back door and leave it only partially cracked? Imagine what it would be like to have a team of committed small group leaders instead of a mismatched group of babysitters. Sounds great, doesn’t it? What if most of your small group leaders actually served for years and years? What if they even considered themselves as lifetime volunteers? Let’s talk about how to recruit those kinds of volunteers. Here are a few basic principles to follow:

ENLIST TO A CALLING

Your job description can be found in Ephesians 4:12, “Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” Your goal is to prepare your small group leaders to minister to the kids and their parents so the church will grow in wisdom and holiness. As you are building your teams, your goal is to intentionally join them together, so that they resemble the body of Christ, not Mr. Potato Head. When someone is willing to serve wherever needed and they are a gifted teacher, avoid the temptation of filling your worship leader vacant spot, and actually place them in a teaching role. Find their best fit. Get to know your team through a strong on-boarding process and solicit feedback during placement to verify they can see themselves serving in this capacity long term.

EXPLAIN WHY THEIR ROLE MATTERS

When you pressure small group leaders to serve out of guilt, your temporary motivation will only take them so far. Show them how the role of a small group leader is carrying out the great commission found in Mathew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Point to specific examples and show small group leaders how they are building the church and expanding the kingdom each and every week. Most people serving in the church can point back to a leader who showed up and influenced their spiritual journey. You have a group of influencers who are making a difference in the next generation, so take the time to remind them of this impact.

FOSTER A FAMILY CULTURE

Sundays can be challenging. It comes with the territory. After a long and difficult morning at church, it might be tempting for a volunteer to quit (who hasn’t been tempted to quit?). It’s easy to quit a position but it’s hard to leave a family. When you work to connect your team, the members of the team begin to work together and belong to one another. Romans 12:4-5 explains it like this, “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” Placing the right people in the right positions in an organization built around groups can help nourish this family culture.

MAKE FREQUENT AND INTENTIONAL INVESTMENTS

The secret recipe for keeping your long time volunteers around is to continue to show love to them by making deposits into their lives. Hebrews 10:25 challenges us saying, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Investment is not about giving your small group leader a five dollar coffee gift card, but sitting down with them around the coffee table. No longer is it about the small group leader simply showing up and doing okay but it’s increasing their abilities and equipping them to become engaging disciple makers. When you see small group leaders have a gifting beyond their current position, show them future next steps. And whenever you see a small group leader who needs a break, give them time off with an intentional plan to bring them back on the team.

In the last paragraph, of the last page of Jim Wideman’s book, Tweetable Leadership, he says, “Be a lover of God’s people. The ministry is all about relationships. People matter! I believe the time we spend empowering and encouraging people is never wasted.” For you to recruit lifetime small group leaders, you must enlist them to a calling that fits their gifting, connect them with one another, and continue to love them through intentional deposits in their lives.

(Originally posted to Children’s Ministry Online at http://childrensministryonline.com/how-to-recruit-lifetime-small-group-leaders/)

Escape From The Mundane Team Building Activity

escape

Sometimes team building can seem like a daunting task. The truth is building a strong team takes work. But what if you could get together with your team to accomplish a task which could act as a catalyst and propel you forward? What if there was an activity that your team looked forward to? Something you could use to teach leadership lessons and apply to your ministry?

Well, there is. It’s called “Escape Games.”

Escape Games, or “Escape Rooms”, as they’re sometimes called, are designed as a giant sequence of interactive puzzles housed in an enclosed space where those inside must solve the clues in order to get out. Typically the participants have sixty minutes to work together and solve the puzzles to complete the mission. Escape Games are usually themed and incorporate those themes within the clues. For participants, the thrill begins upon being locked in the room. That’s when everyone must either do their part to get out—or fail in their escape.

Taking your team through an Escape Game will be an adrenaline-filled hour that can change their and your leadership forever. To date, I have participated in 3 Escape Games and continue to apply what I learned. Here’s what to expect when taking your team through this activity, as well as some practical ways to apply these principles to ministry.

…3-2-1…Go! (You have 1 hour to escape) 

As your team arrives on site, they will be greeted and given the paperwork to get started. The host will explain the basics of an escape game, lay down a few ground rules, and give important information related to your specific mission.  There will be some people in your crew who need fewer instructions and are eager to start. Others will be wishing the host would explain far more details concerning what is expected and about to take place.

You will need to be conscientious of the important information and rules you are sharing, especially the way “unspoken” details increase as you are adding new people to your ministry team. Some new teammates will have no idea what to expect and might feel uncomfortable or anxious. Some new teammates will have no idea what to expect and might feel uncomfortable or anxious. This may contrast with other, who are more familiar with the church or ministry or who have a “Let’s do this!” attitude. They might feel excited and eager to start. Pairing a rookie kidmin worker with a veteran who can come alongside them to help them get started helps acclimate them to the team.

When the game begins and the clock starts ticking, it quickly becomes clear that while your team is working on different tasks, everyone understands the ultimate goal and together everyone is working towards the goal. The goal is Systematic, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable, and Timely (SMART), and you have 60 minutes to escape.

This phase of the teamwork has a practical application to your team’s approach to the Sunday responsibilities. Do they understand how their individual tasks on Sunday morning work toward accomplishing the ultimate goal? It also calls Proverbs 29:18 into play: “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained.” When it comes to your ministry, do the leaders on your team know when they are winning?

As your group solves their first clue there will be an eruption of celebration. These celebrations will build momentum and excitement for the task at hand. Celebrating wins is equally important in building momentum in your kid’s ministry. How do you celebrate when a first-time guest returns the following week with a friend? When a child is lead to Christ, how does your team celebrate this victory?

Communicate! (Your escape depends on it) 

While the pressure builds, it is vital to keep the communication flowing steadily. Too little communication means others might not see the clues that you are seeing. You may hold the missing piece to the puzzle they are trying to solve. On the other hand, too much communication means your team may get locked up in information overload and become frustrated. You might find you have too many moving pieces and need to designate a mediator to keep all of the individual puzzles moving in the right direction.

Communication can make or break your escape. Therefore, your plan needs to include how and what you are communicating to your ministry team. To handle growth and the added complexity it adds, you will need to create a system that includes middle managers who can communicate and care for those on their team.

While trying to escape, your team may simply get stuck. That happens in the heat of the game, and your group might need to step back or re-evaluate or change the task to gain a fresh perspective. You might need to ask the host for a clue.

Escape2

If your team gets stuck, you’ll need a leader who is willing to take charge and make something happen. You’ll need to identify someone who’s willing to take a risk not knowing the outcome. For you, as the team leader, this could be one of the best learning experiences you receive from the game. It will show you how your teammates react under pressure, who rises to the occasion, how they lead disciple the difficult situation, how they lead despite the difficult situation, how the leader communicates, and if the leader gets the group’s buy-in before making a move. Then, hopefully with a new perspective or the needed clue, your team will continue working towards the goal.

Sometimes in an Escape Game, just when you think you are finally getting somewhere you discover instead that you’re only getting started. You may solve all the clues in the room only to discover there is a second room! The same happens in ministry.  Your team will discover that definitions change. Words like “big” and “busy” have shifting definitions that you will need to clearly articulate.

The Heat is On! (will you escape…?)

As the clock winds down, your team will face the reality that they either are going to escape to victory or face defeat. Both winning and losing should be met with evaluation and reflection. When your team gives their full effort towards accomplishing the mission, winning or losing become an emotionally charged, shared experience. As your team members begin to calm down, you can start to digest the past hour and reflecting on things you could have done differently.

Similarly, evaluation and reflection can propel your ministry team to their next level. When you share with them the things they did great as well as the things they can improve, you’re helping them sharpen their skills for future ministry.

When you escape from the mundane team-building activity you will find both immediate and long-term benefits. People appreciate being a part of the great adventure, and a shared experience like this builds relationships. They experience both quality time and quantity time as they solve the clues to escape. Long-term, you will learn about your team members’ personalities and gifts, and the relationships that were built will bond your team together.

Want to do this with your own team? Simply search “Escape Room” online and find a game in your area!

(Originally posted in the Kidzmatter Magazine July/Aug/Sept 2017 edition)

9 Delightful Ways to Wrap up Your Summer

YS-Blog_750x300_delightful-ways-to-wrap-summer

You’re busy. You don’t want another to do list item to add to your ever growing checklist. But at the same time, I imagine you don’t want to miss out on low hanging fruit to propel the ministry forward. As the summer is winding down there are a few things that you can do to simply end on a good note. Here are nine delightful ways to wrap up your summer but feel free to write one or two of them down that will give you the most bang for your buck.

RELATIONALLY

Take a minute and pull out your phone to make a personalized video message to some of your student leaders. Don’t worry about it being perfect, just hit record, greet them by name, share a fun memory from the summer, and thank them for being a part of the church. Tap send and know that this might just make their day.

SPIRITUALLY

Set aside an hour on your calendar and find a quiet place to hang your Eno. Spend the hour talking with God about your summer. This quiet time can be full of appreciation for the past and seek wisdom for what lies ahead. Maybe even block off a little time for rest or just be still and know that He is God.

PHYSICALLY

Walk with a purpose. Connect with someone who you have not been able to see in a while and walk around the park. Or maybe go scout out a new retreat center or event location and walk around picturing what could be. Or maybe just walk boxes of accumulated junk out of your office and into the trash.

DIGITALLY

Take a few minutes and look through the photos on your phone. Post some of the summer memories to social media and remind your students and leaders of what you learned while you were away at camp or on that missions trip. Follow up with students who you recognize from the pictures but haven’t seen in a while and let them know you hope to see them at your kickoff event or in the lunchroom at their school.

MENTALLY

Take some time to simply think. Ask yourself these questions and take a few minutes to brainstorm the answers. Who are the future leaders for the ministry? What do you need to do to better equip your student leaders? Are you keeping your priorities in check? Why did God place you in this ministry and for what purpose? How will you continue moving forward to the goal God has set before you?

SOCIALLY

Connect with your loved ones, socialize with friends and maybe even consider leaving your phone in the car when you go to your next social gathering. Giving the gift of presence is good both for you and those you are spending time with.

ENVIRONMENTALLY

How is your workspace? Take some time to clean up your work environments. Clean off your desk and move all paperwork to either a file, the trash or delegate it to someone else to work on. If you have a youth space, walk through that environment and try to see the room with fresh eyes. Do the table tennis paddles need to be replaced? Are old signs still on the walls? Clean up that space so that you are ready to welcome new visitors to a clean room.

INTELLECTUALLY

Finish that book. You know, the one you started a while ago but set down and forgot all about. Pick it up again, scan through your underlines as a refresher, and continue working through the pages. You never know, finishing that book might be all the motivation you need to start another.

FINANCIALLY

Sorry to use “The B Word” here but how is your budget? This post is about fun, so let me ask, do you have leftover money in budget categories that you can use to set up next summer well? For example, if you have leftover camp budget money, could you use that leftover to send thank you’s to your workers or could you get something to remind the students of their experience or commitment?

Don’t let the next minute go by without making a plan. Instead of adding one of these to your to do list, why not simply make one happen? The summer will be gone before you know it so let’s wrap up on a good note.

(Originally posted the Youth Specialties blog at: https://youthspecialties.com/blog/9-delightful-ways-wrap-summer/)

 

How to On-board New Volunteers

Business Colleagues Together Teamwork Working Office

The D6 Podcast helps you build an excellent family ministry in your church. On episode 63, we sat down and walked through all of the steps to process onboard new volunteers.

Recruiting volunteers is hard but you can make this process easier by breaking it down into manageable steps. Listen to this podcast for a tutorial step by step guide and check out the attachments for additional resources.

How to On-board New Volunteers with Corey Jones – https://itun.es/i6dj5Jk

Corey Jones provides us with a step by step tutorial on how to on-board a new volunteer. He begins with recruiting. Corey believes he needs to always be in a state of recruiting volunteers, so he must free himself to have the time on Sunday mornings to interact with people and recognize their gifts. Corey talks in great detail about his application process and even gives key components to his application. He shares how to handle that awkward conversation when someone fails a background check and how to recapture an applicant that may have gotten lost in the process. Corey discusses how to identify volunteers that may be ready for more responsibility, and he talks about how his own senior pastor has encouraged volunteering in their church.

There is valuable, practical, and ready-to-use information in this episode. Make sure to tune in!

Here are links to additional resources:

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

3 Free Ways To Better Screen Your Volunteers

survey-opinion-research-voting-fill-159353

There’s no question that we need to screen our volunteers, especially those who work with kids. But how do you properly screen workers on a limited budget with limited time? How can you ensure the safety of those who have been placed in your care when you are also trying to prepare for next Sunday? Here are 3 free ways to better screen your volunteers.

1. Know Your Process.

Can you list every step a volunteer must take in order to go from a pew sitter to a member of your team? Write down your full process and ask a lawyer, officer, and/or school counselor for feedback. Read over your application to make sure you are collecting the proper information and compare your application to that of other churches. Know your background check process and know exactly what the background check is screening. Know what questions you will ask a reference and what you will do when a red flag is raised. Know what standard questions you are going to ask in the interview and know how to ask these questions to get accurate information.

2. Follow Your Process.

While knowing your process is important, if you don’t follow it you will find yourself in trouble. Don’t cut corners or make exceptions, even if you know the person or they’ve been serving in another ministry. If your policy says that a person must be a member in order to serve then hit pause and wait for that step to be complete. Even if you desperately need someone to fill the position, or if your gut is telling you to let them through, still follow your process. When you always follow your process you can confidently tell parents that every member of your team has been properly screened.

3. Document Your Process.

Along the way, write down dates and keep a written record so that you know each step has been completed. Document the date your background check was sent out and write down when you have received a clear report. If any red flags are raised in the reference check or interview, write down both what was said and how you resolved the situation. If there is anything questionable or out of the ordinary also consider running the information by your supervisor and have them sign off on the document as well.

When you know, follow, and document your screening process for new volunteers you are on your way to building a healthy team. The time you invest in these three steps will help you protect the kids and can save your ministry from a sticky situation. What is one step that you need to take today to better screen your volunteers?

4 Stories of Messy Leadership (And Why You Need It)

Most-trusted-voice-inFamily-Ministrysince

There was a time in your life when someone gave you the opportunity to try what you are currently doing. Maybe they saw a glimmer of hope or maybe you just asked to help, but someone opened the door to messy leadership and allowed you the opportunity to fail. In Tweetable Leadership, Jim Wideman writes, “Most people forget they haven’t always been able to do what they are able to do now. Someone let you sorry all over a group of people and get better. You need to return the favor and believe in others.”

In Matthew 9:37-38 Jesus told his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” And in the very next verse, Jesus sent out the twelve disciples to begin doing ministry. These disciples might not have appeared fully ready to lead but Jesus uses broken people to fulfill His mission. When you embrace messy leadership, you are giving broken people a chance to answer God’s call on their life. We must give our volunteers the same chance we were given even if, in our eyes, they might not appear ready.

Embrace The Rookie

When the rookie walks up to you and asks how he can begin serving on your team, embrace his eager heart. He might be learning the stories for the first time as he prepares each week, which means he will have fresh insight. He might be nervous to pray for the first time in front of the group, which will remind you how many in the room might be feeling the same fear. And even though the rookie might start out as a door greeter, maybe one day down the road he will be leading this ministry. When a new volunteer begins serving on your team they can help open your eyes to how a visitor experiences church for the first time. Solicit feedback and give the rookie opportunities to shed a fresh perspective on your ministry.

Encourage The Nervous

Most people list public speaking as their number one fear. When someone builds up the courage to take the stage, find ways to praise all the things they did right. Eventually, the nervous worship leader will loosen up and their gifting will shine through. The nervous teacher who becomes too deep and begins saying words like “millennial dispensationalism” may eventually relax and teach so that kindergarteners actually understand. The first time these fears take over don’t criticize or belittle your nervous leader, instead, point out what they did well and give them a few tips on how to improve. Soon, you will have a team of leaders, all functioning within their own gifting, which will allow you to do the things only you can do.

Equip The Busy

Maybe you have a CEO on your team who can only give two hours a week or maybe it’s a teenager who is trying to balance school, sports, and a part time job. When you are trying to equip the busy, things might get messy because your CEO might not lead the way you had in mind and the high schooler might bring a little too much chaos to the small group. Just because people are busy doesn’t mean you don’t have a place for them to use their gifts to build the kingdom. When you equip the busy teammates, you find ways to fit ministry into their schedules. You might need to tweak expectations or communicate in a different mode but when your busy volunteers are equipped they can bring a high level of professionalism or maybe a needed shot of energy into your ministry.

Empower The Unique

When an overzealous rockstar is looking for a place to serve, it might get messy, but you should bring him on your team. This rockstar might be too much for the adult worship service but he might be just what you are looking for with the kids. The class clown might be a distraction in Sunday school but when you put him in a costume and give him a purpose, he might just become the perfect host. And the tech genius who works behind the scenes to make sure things are running smoothly might not ever teach a lesson on the stage, but if you empower him to lead your sound booth you might help him find a great fit for his gifting. When you look at their gifting and give the unique a chance to lead, you can make the church actually look like the full body of Christ.

Jesus is in the business of using messy people to accomplish His great work. Let’s do our part of embracing, encouraging, equipping, and empowering the church to reach the next generation.

(Originally shared on the D6 Blog at http://d6family.com/4-stories-messy-leadership-need/)

Spiritual Adulthood: How old are you spiritually?

pexels-photo-191034

If your pastor looked you in the eyes and asked you this question, how would you answer? “How old are you spiritually?” I believe we would all like to say that we are further down the road then we were last year but how much have we really grown? Have we spiritually grown up from a crawling infant to a toddler? Are we confidently walking like a kindergartener? Has our relationship with God matured past the acquaintance phase to a friend? Could we define the relationship as best friend? Are we still battling the same temptations and losing or are we growing stronger in living in the Spirit?

Today, I simply want to leave you with a few scripture passages for reflection. I’m asking God to use His Word in a powerful way to help you reflect and grow.

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11

Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. Hebrews 5:11-14