Now we are going to talk about volunteer retention and training. Once you’ve recruited your volunteers, it’s important to have a retention and training plan. After you have your army of coaches, leaders, and volunteers, you need to train them up and continue to retain them. Notice I’ve lumped these together, because a well-trained volunteer is retained volunteer in my experience. Do not expect to recruit and enlist them and then hand a lesson to them and expect them to last. Remember, you are the top layer of this layer discipleship concept. You have to pour into the other layers. Here are a couple of ways to do that.
First, remember to lead with a servant leadership mindset. Yes, there will be many things that you do behind the scenes that no one will ever know about. For example, I used to sweep dead crickets before my volunteer teams arrived so that they didn’t have to do it. I didn’t want them to be grossed out and leave, but I also wanted to serve sacrificially without anyone having to know about it. One of my favorite books on this topic is Spiritual Leadership by Oswald Sanders. There he says the church needs more leaders, not less. But the kind of leaders we need are authoritative, spiritual, and sacrificial. There will be many ways to sacrificially serve in kids ministry. That may be countless errands to gather snacks and craft supplies, reconfiguring a shared space, making tons of copies every week, but remember to do it with a servant’s heart knowing that you are serving your leaders.
Second, it’s very important to create a community with your leaders and volunteers. Make them come early enough to huddle up and pray for one another and the kids in their classes. Ask them about their families. Bring them breakfast. Host monthly luncheons. Know them and help them know each other. Community has staying power. The message is, “let’s do this together.”
Lastly, provide excellent content. Part of training volunteers is what you put in their hand or inbox to study before teaching. Quality curriculum will not only help people engage, it helps your leaders learn on the job. If they are learning and growing, then they are more likely to stay with you.
Now, I mentioned monthly lunches. The best time to host a training is while you’ve already got your people there. Right after church, provide food, provide childcare, and boom you’ve got them. If you think about it, your training becomes an opportunity to learn and grow together, which sounds a lot like discipleship to me.
Your job is to serve them, support them, and sustain them. Healthy volunteers make for a healthy kids ministry.