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Posts Tagged "volunteers"

Leading Volunteers: A Conversation with #Kidmin Leaders

Posted by on Nov 20, 2015 in Community, Leadership, Ministry, Volunteers

This week I pulled together with some ministry leaders and had a Blab conversation about volunteers.

[bctt tweet=”I could sit back & limit God in my ministry by saying ‘no’ for someone. @bekabullard”]

If you’ve never blabbed before… it’s kind of fun. The video above shows the ‘Brady Bunch’ style format as each person video chats together. Check it out here.

The four leaders on this call lead in Children’s Ministry at multi-site churches in Ohio, Chicago & Tennessee. And though our multi-site contexts might look very different, our methodology in leading & building volunteer teams is remarkably similar.

[bctt tweet=”The best indicator of a strong volunteer leader is that people follow them. @sjdinardo “]

Listen in on the conversation and find out more about how these leaders navigate the world of leading volunteers. The conversation jumps right into the tricky world of social media and posting things we wish we hadn’t posted! Then see how the conversation progresses:

How do you recruit high-level volunteers? (7:53)

[bctt tweet=”A strong volunteer leader is the person willing to ask hard questions. @debbyalbrecht”]

How do you help a volunteer avoid burnout? (20:15)

[bctt tweet=”A stretched volunteer may not say they need help. @bekahbullard”]

How we empower volunteers & how we might hinder them? (27:00)

[bctt tweet=”Can your volunteers make a decision w/o you? Have you given them the opportunity? @bekabullard”]

Hear about our experience requiring parents to serve because they have kids in our ministry! (39:40)

[bctt tweet=”Require parents to serve in #kidmin? Sure! I should fix your car b/c I own one. @debbyalbrecht”]

And find out about one of the biggest personal mistake I’ve made in my 16 years of leading in ministry. (28:49)

[bctt tweet=”Only elementary age kids can appreciate my dance moves. @gina_mcclain”]

Here are the amazing people I got to chat with:

Debby Albrecht

Stacey DiNardo

Rebekah Bullard

Listen in about halfway and listen to our own confessions of how we care for ourselves!


Here are some helpful links mentioned in the video:

Jim Wideman – don’t be afraid to recruit busy people; shoulder tap successful, busy people

Are Your Sheep Okay? – We wrote an article together in Children’s Ministry Magazine on how and why we care for volunteers.

Not Normal – a book that wasn’t mentioned… but totally relevant to the discussion. A highly recommended read about leading volunteers

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Stranger in the Locker Room

Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Ministry

Don’t be a stranger in the locker room.

This piece of wisdom came from my boss, Chuck Carringer. (Chuck blogs here & tweets here. You’d benefit greatly from following his insightful thoughts.)

It’s a bit of wisdom I’m familiar with though never heard it phrased so well. You see, Chuck is a former basketball coach so leadership lessons in the form of coaching analogies are not unusual.

It simply means that by making it a point to be in the locker room, the players grow accustomed to your presence. As a ministry leader, my players are my volunteers. I rely heavily on a volunteer team to do the work of the ministry. And the quality of that work is contingent on the volunteer and their ability to take what I give them and execute.

And the best way for me to know how and if my volunteer is well equipped, is if I’m in the room.

Yet my presence in the room can make volunteers uncomfortable… if it’s unusual.

But if my presence in the room is part of my weekly routine… a routine volunteers are accustomed to… in fact, expecting. Then I have the privilege of seeing how a kidmin room actually runs. Within this reality, I can see where to focus training and equipping. I can see where volunteers are most effective in connecting with the kids. I can experience how engaged volunteers and kids truly are.

It’s easy to judge the effectiveness of the weekend based upon the large group portion of the hour. Yet if you don’t have presence in the small group segment, then you miss out on a significant element of the child’s experience.

I appreciated Chuck’s reminder of the value of our attention to this detail. If I’m a stranger in the locker room, I’m not positioned to speak into all aspects of the team.

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Every Marble has a Story

Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Ministry

Have you ever talked to a little boy with marbles?  Each marble has a story.  If you take the time, he’s willing to tell you the story for each one.

“Marble stories” are cute, funny and they tell you a little something about their world.  Last week I posted here about a Culture of Engagement.  A strong Culture of Engagement among your volunteer team intentionally positions volunteers to interact with the kids in their care.  To hear the “marble stories”.  These stories remind us why we do what we do and inspire us to dig in a little more.

As my volunteers continue to engage, here is what I’m looking for now:

  • Are they walking away with “marble stories”?
  • What avenue is in place to share those stories with us (staff)?
  • What tool will I use to share those stories with the rest of my volunteer team?
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Leading Volunteers_Keep It External

Posted by on Feb 6, 2015 in Volunteers

I’ve led volunteer teams for a long time. If you lead volunteer teams, you understand the juggle.

Keeping track of where each volunteer is, what they need, when they serve and where they serve can be mind-boggling. Like a multi-layered game of Chutes & Ladders, one takes 3 steps forward, another seems stuck in place, and I just lost one down a chute!

How do I keep track of this highly valued team and help them as they strive to serve?

There are some amazingly gifted leaders in the ministry world from whom I’ve gleaned a few tips and tricks to make sense of the crazy and bring some structure to the tilt-a-whirl called volunteer management.


Here are 3 things I have or do that have helped me through the years.

Volunteer Org Chart

I put my team on paper.

I mean… get it out of my head.

Sam Luce calls this “Externalize your Team”. And it’s just, plain smart.

I’m not talking about your volunteer schedule on an excel spreadsheet (although a schedule is important). It isn’t your volunteer contact list (although that’s important, too!)

It’s a chart that reflects who your volunteers lead (i.e. where they serve) and who leads your volunteers. Like the organizational reporting structure for a business. It’s the visual representation of how your volunteer team is led.

[pullquote]You will always struggle to shepherd your volunteer team well unless you lay out a structure that defines how that shepherding will happen.[/pullquote]

An organizational chart helps you define this. Stay tuned for more on how build a Volunteer Organizational Chart.

I use Microsoft Word to create my Org Charts… b/c I’m not a “Mac” chick… yet. Don’t judge.

Make It Prominent

I’m not a big fan of paper. Though you wouldn’t know that if you looked at my desk.

But if I can keep it in Google docs or Evernote… that’s my preference. I try to avoid paper because I never have it when I need it!

Yet I’ve found greater success leading my volunteer teams when I have an actual paper copy displayed on the wall of my office.

[pullquote]I’ve found greater success leading my volunteer teams when I have an actual paper copy displayed on the wall of my office.[/pullquote]

Here’s why…

Quick View
I’ve got easy access to see my volunteers, where they serve and who leads them. I can see the roles I’m still trying to fill with a long-term leader. I can see my layers of leadership at a glance and gauge where I am.

I’ve found that I’m quicker to pray specifically for a volunteer or a need within my team when that team is prominently displayed in front of me. I find it uncanny but true. Call me less than spiritual, but the physical presence on my wall is a visual reminder of my calling to shepherd this team well. If I pastor them well, they are equipped to pastor the kids God brings to our church.

I use paper. Like… that stuff made from trees. That everyone complains about. Call me old-school.

Make It Flow

This is a new one for me. I’ve never used flow charts before. But I’ve found them remarkably helpful.

There are multiple steps we take a volunteer through before they are ‘official’. From their initial steps of observation, to their background check & application, to orientation, on-the-job training… the list goes on. And keeping track of every step is a challenge. Especially when you share this process with volunteer coaches.

So recently I’ve introduced flow charts. A visual representation of the process a volunteer completes in order to vet, prepare & equip. A checklist might accomplish the same thing, but I like the visual ‘journey’ the flow chart depicts. May be a personal preference… but I like it.

I use Draw.io for flow charts.

The objective to each of these three things is to help me meet the needs of volunteers. If I can effectively meet their needs by ensuring they are cared for and equipped then I create a volunteer experience people want to be a part of.

It’s the most effective way to foster a multiplication effect in your ministry.

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5 Things to Help our Volunteers Lead Better

Posted by on Dec 16, 2014 in Leadership, Ministry


© 36clicks | Dreamstime.comLane Five Photo

As a ministry leader, one of my prime objectives is to lead a group of volunteers to successfully implement the functions of ministry on a weekly basis.

That’s a flowery way of saying, “I lead a team of volunteers to invest in kids”.

But that “Sunday-to-Sunday” race means I focus a lot time on preparing for church every week. Whether you do Sunday School, Children’s Church, or some variation of the two, kidmin leaders spend copious amounts of time ensuring we have enough volunteers to take care of the kids that will show up this weekend.

But we also know there are greater objectives to achieve beyond staffing our rooms. In fact, I contend that all of us in ministry have one simple objective every week.

To increase our capacity to lead.


Help those around us increase their capacity to lead.

Sounds so simple and yet filled with a multitude of challenges. The primary question being… How?

How do we help those around us increase their own capacity to lead?

In fact, how do we create a system that equips volunteers to improve the quality of their leadership? This is the ‘Rubiks Cube’ of many churches today. And though I don’t have the comprehensive solution, I’ve discovered a great step that has helped me provide clarity and consistency within my volunteer leaders. It’s improving our outcomes and making our volunteer experience better.

And nothing works better to multiply your volunteer team than great volunteer experiences!

Recently I’ve elevated some volunteers into Team Lead roles. These roles are relationally driven and the primary objective is to know how their volunteer team is doing and what they need. Success for this leader is when they have a thumb on the pulse of the volunteers they serve alongside and help set them up to win every week.

This is not a new role in our ministry. It’s existed for several years. But we’ve experienced varying levels of success. Some volunteers seem to hit the ground running. Their leadership is ‘felt’ among their team and these teams are healthy. Other volunteers never seem to get off the ground and at the end of the day, they’re really just a name filling a slot. They aren’t functioning well in the role.

The central question became… how do we fix this?

How do we increase consistency among our Team Leads and therefore increase consistency in how our volunteers are led and loved?

We have a standard Role Description that describes the function of the role. It lays out expectations, time commitments, and the central focus of  this volunteer position. But the Role Description didn’t seem to do enough to equip these leaders to do what we asked them to do.

So, we introduced a new element… 5 Behaviors of a Successful Team Lead.

Here is what we shared.  A successful Team Lead is…

Engaged with Volunteers outside of Sunday
This means you have contact with them via text, email, phone or face-to-face. Contact that lets them know you are available and ready to help. In fact, two questions we want you to ask on a regular basis are: What’s going well in your group? What needs do you have today?

Communicates with Staff
You’re the eyes and ears for your area. Proactively communicate with staff to ensure needs of kids and volunteers are addressed in a timely manner.

Leads Room & Delegates Tasks
You know what needs to happen in your room/area throughout the hour and you ensure these areas are covered by the best person on your team.

Prepares for Sunday
You lead the way. You arrive prepared and ready to serve. You set the tone for the rest of your team.

Recruits Well
You consistently invite others to take part in what God is doing at Faith Promise. No matter the ministry, you are working to ensure every person that calls FPC their home is plugged in and serving.

We shared these behaviors with our newest Team Leads and what we discovered was a game-changer.

The newest Team Leads equipped with these behaviors have performed better than Team Leads without this information. By standardizing the behaviors of our Team Leads we set ourselves up to experience better outcomes with our volunteers.

And that feels good.

Keeping the momentum…

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