Posts by Gina

They Won’t Do It for Jesus… for long 0

They Won’t Do It for Jesus… for long

Posted by on Nov 21, 2014 in Leadership, Ministry

Leading volunteers is a craft. One that requires constant tweaking and learning.

Yet there are some principals you learn about leading volunteers that never change.

Volunteers want to know that what they do to matters.

Volunteers want to enjoy what they do.

Volunteers want to feel needed and known.

Now, I can convince a volunteer to do just about anything if I present a compelling need. People are pretty generous and willing to do something they may not enjoy in order to meet a need. For a season, they will ‘grin and bear it’.

But as ministry leaders, working with volunteers means we operate within the tension of matching the ‘wiring’ of volunteers with the needs of our ministry. And there are plenty of times the two don’t always align.

Have you ever…

…had a need for 1st grade leaders, yet all you seem to attract are people that want to hold babies?

…needed to redirect a volunteer from a full team at one service to a deficit at another?

There are many factors that influence where and when a volunteer serves. And our ability to nimbly navigate these factors can set us up for success or failure.


You may have a great need that has yet to be filled. And you are welcome to brow-beat a volunteer into taking on that role even though you know it’s not a great fit. But that’s nothing more than a precariously placed band-aid.

Over time the band-aid will start to peel back. And every effort you make to press it back in place in the name of “serving Jesus” is futile.

Eventually that volunteer exits.
And you’re left with the same hole.

How do we avoid this?

How do we prevent ourselves from attempting to force someone into a volunteer ‘hole’ we know they’re not suited to fill? How do we ensure we don’t pressure people to remain in volunteer roles they no longer enjoy?

I have 3 postures I fight to maintain when leading volunteer teams. One keeps the volunteer team engaged for the right reason. The other two help me ensure that I see beyond the tip of my own nose:

Posture #1: Connect them to the “Why” as often as possible.
This is nothing earth-shattering. It’s widely known thanks to Simon Sinek. But it’s really true. In every interaction with volunteers I’m fighting make sure they know why they chose their Small Group over beating the traffic or lunch with friends.

The responsibility is mine to ensure that I can clearly communicate the “Why” behind the what. And “Doing it for Jesus!” isn’t enough. Call me unspiritual, but people will only “do it for Jesus” for so long before they decide there are other things they’d rather do for Him. Ministry leaders need to figure out how to succinctly communicate the “Why”.

It’s more than a mission statement. Your mission statement is your ‘jumping off point’. You need some key phrases that are simple and short but packed with purpose.

Why do we do Small Groups?

Because we believe faith is transferred in the context of a relationship. And relationships can’t be built in large settings of kids.

Why do you ask Small Group Leaders to serve weekly?

Because kids won’t believe they can trust your God until they know they can trust you. And when you show up predictably in their life, they start to believe God does too.

Why do we need one Small Group Leader for every 8 kids when a school teacher teaches an average of 25?

Because you can’t truly know 25 kids… but you can know 8. You can know their birthday, their favorite color, the name of their pet(s) and their favorite sport. And I want you to know all of those things about your 8.

Posture #2: Willing to move someone out, even when it hurts.
Recently I invited a Small Group Leader to shift to a support role on one of our teams. It wasn’t that we had an abundance of Small Group Leaders in that grade level. Actually, we need more. And her subtraction from that group creates a greater deficit.

But this volunteer was clearly not happy in this role. In my interactions, I watched her move back and forth from “love it” to “hate it” enough times to know… this is not a great fit. But she knew the need and didn’t want to leave the rest of the group “high and dry”.

Though I value her willingness to “take one for the team”, she is far too valuable to allow her to languish in a role she does not enjoy simply because I have a need. I’d much prefer to shift her to a place that she enjoys serving. Doing so ensures I get the best of what she has to offer rather than what she’s able to manufacture on her own strength.

Am I willing to move someone out for long-term gain, even when it creates short-term pain? Can I love them enough to give them the opportunity to find a new place to serve, even if it leaves me with a hole?

Posture #3: People won’t fill a hole they don’t see.
Sometimes the plate has to stop spinning and drop before someone walks along and says, “Hey, I can pick that up.” It’s never comfortable to allow a ‘hole’ to be exposed. But the truth is, that can get the attention of your next potential volunteer.

I’m not advocating that you step back and allow things to fall apart in the name of ‘exposing holes’. No one wants to jump on a sinking ship. Every week my role requires me to ensure that every role is filled so that kids have an experience that makes them want to return.

But allowing someone to see that a need exists helps them to see where they might fit. And every volunteer wants to find their fit.

Leading volunteers is a craft. You never completely put it down and as dynamics change, we have to figure out how to adjust. Maintaining these postures has helped me adjust as needed and successfully retain some amazingly gifted volunteers.

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Chasing a Vision_Why we’re headed back to Monterrey 0

Chasing a Vision_Why we’re headed back to Monterrey

Posted by on Apr 11, 2014 in Ministry, My Life, Parenting

promo post pic

Last summer the McClain clan traveled to Monterrey Mexico and served with Back2BackMexico. We won’t try to convince you that we had the time of our lives. It was hot, we worked hard but most of all we had the privilege of getting to know the people the Back2Back Ministries is serving there.

Not by swooping in with the gospel.

No. Instead Back2Back is there, day after day, meeting all of the needs of the marginalized….earning the right to share the gospel and living it out in front of them. We got to know Dario and Rubiel, brothers living in a children’s home with which Back2Back partners. One brother is Connor’s age. We look forward to seeing them again. Learning more about them and seeing how they grew. Their are dozens more to check on: Arturo, Julio and Renato to name a few.

To make it to Monterrey we need 27 more people to donate 25$ to our mission trip. We would appreciate your support to help us go. Our greatest desire is to show up in the lives of these boys and let them know, we haven’t forgotten them. We care what happens to them, because we love them like Christ loves us.

Would you be one of the 27? Can you contribute 25$ and help us get to Monterrey? Click here to make your tax deductible donation to the Monterrey Mission team.

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The Value of a Response 2

The Value of a Response

Posted by on Dec 19, 2013 in Leadership

I have to admit.  One of my biggest leadership challenges is simply responding to people.

I have great intentions of doing so.  And if I’m totally honest, I DO respond… 100% of the time… in my head.

and that’s the problem.

People don’t receive the responses that never leave my head.

I’ve worked hard to improve this one thing this past year.  And one of my personal goals for 2014 is to make that even better. (ask me in 12 months how that’s gone :) )

The reason I’m focused on this is based upon my own consumer experience in communicating with two different online companies.  Both companies provide a service to which I have an annual subscription.  Both of which have developed tools and resources I find valuable and have become dependent upon.  In short, I’m not looking for a better product.  I’m satisfied with what they offer.

However, at different times this year I had a problem with my account with both entities.  In each situation I sent an email to the Help Desk requesting assistance.  In both situations, my need was met.  But in very different ways.

In one situation, my need was addressed and I received a return response letting me know how it was resolved and offering additional assistance, if needed.  There was no apology.  It wasn’t needed.  But there was kind, light-hearted response that let me know they were concerned about my need as a customer.

The other situation was different.  Although my issue was addressed and need met, I received no response.  To this day, I’m not sure how the issue was resolved.  I don’t even know if the error was on their end or mine.  I don’t know if I’ll encounter this again or how to avoid it in the future.  I don’t know.

And that’s the problem.

I’ve been left to fill in the blank.  And that can be dangerous.

Building loyalty begins with communication. When others communicate with me I find I trust them more.  Those that do not, I find my trust diminishes.  Because I’m left too much room to fill in the blank.

This is a convicting leadership lesson for me.  I don’t want people to perceive my lack of response as a lack of caring. This elevates my need to improve my communication even if it’s a simple acknowledgement.

A timely response goes a long way toward building trust.


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Safety Process: Communicating to Parents 0

Safety Process: Communicating to Parents

Posted by on Dec 18, 2013 in Volunteers

Hey #kidmin audience.  I need your feedback and ideas.

In fpKIDS, we have security standards in our kidmin areas to create a secure environment for our kids.  Each entrance to a designated kids area has a “Secure Checkpoint” where we post a security volunteer.

They’re role is to ensure that the only people to cross that point are people with:

  • a Security Receipt – alphanumeric code identifying their child
  • fpKIDS Volunteer Nametag

This is our effort to reduce the traffic in our kidmin spaces to only those individuals who need to be there.

Although the Secure Checkpoint is an addition to other security procedures we have in place to protect kids, it’s a front-line role and has a few challenges that I need help resolving.  Most of our parents learn the Security Process and readily comply.  They understand the reason why the Secure Checkpoint exists and (though inconvenienced at times) they are willing to do their part for the sake of safety.

Some parents, however, are not as willing to comply.  Most of time you can chalk it up to a ‘bad day’.  And the added inconvenience of finding that security receipt (or replacing the lost one) is simply too much. But we’ve encountered enough challenges that I think it’s important to bring a level of focus to this area and make the volunteer experience better for our Security Team.

I remember Patty Smith talking about this in a training session she led at the Kidmin Conference.  (If you’ve never participated in a training session led by Patty Smith, you’re totally missing out.)

One of the points she made was the value of training EVERYONE involved in the Safety/Security Processes that you establish for your church.  For example, if you have a safety policy that requires two adults with kids at all times, then make sure volunteers, kids and parents know that you require two adults with kids at all times.

If everyone knows the standard then you have a greater chance of successfully upholding the standard.

So, applying that truth… how do you communicate Safety Standards to your church?

Do you have a print piece?  A video to play periodically in adult services?  Is it provided on your website?

How do you ensure parents know the security standards you have in place?  

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Volunteers & Safety Procedures: What works? 0

Volunteers & Safety Procedures: What works?

Posted by on Dec 16, 2013 in Ministry, Volunteers


Safety Procedures are some of the more important and more  minute aspects of Kids Ministry.  And these details of ministry are critical to creating a safe environment for kids.

The challenge with Safety Procedures is their regularity. Some safety processes you use so often you don’t even think about them like diaper changing, restroom procedures or illness.

Other procedures you use so rarely, it’s easy to forget the proper process to handle it.  Things like bleeding or vomiting.

As a ministry leader, I want to make sure our volunteers have the knowledge and resources to handle these situations no matter how frequently or infrequently they occur.  The question always comes down to “How?”.

This past year we posted our standard safety procedures in each room for things like Incident Reporting, Restroom Policies, Vomiting or Bleeding.  They were posted in the form of a flip-chart.

The problem I had with the flip-chart was that the procedures were posted but not necessarily visible. A volunteer would have to flip the pages to actually review the information.  And though that can work, I wanted to try something that didn’t require any flipping. Something that kept the information as visible as possible.

Our graphics team created a poster mounted to pvc.  They’re incredibly durable, yet simple as they do not require framing.  We’ll mount each poster using some heavy-duty 3M double sided tape.  (the kind you stick once and it’s there until Armageddon)

I’m interested to see how this works.  I certainly like the clean look and simplicity of the sign.

Safety Procedure Sign

*Important things to note:

  • Evacuation maps are not listed on these.  Our evacuation routes are posted in the hallways and specific to a grouping of rooms
  • No sign is the ‘end all, be all’. Signs become ‘visual white noise’ and disappear over time. This sign enhances but does not eliminate the need for regular training or review of these processes

What have you found effective in keeping Safety Procedures available to volunteers when they need them?

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