One of the top questions we hear from children’s directors is “How do I get more volunteers?” But a much better question may be: "How do I get the right volunteers?" Companies go through lengthy processes to be sure they’ve hired the right employee, and when they’re wrong, it costs them thousands of dollars. A bad recruit in children’s ministry is much more costly as it can cost the spiritual nurturing of a child.
He (Jesus) told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field. - Luke 10:2
First of all, acknowledge that God is the One who calls people to serve. If you are doing the calling, it will not last. God knows the hearts and minds (and schedules) of those He calls. When He calls, it will be a beautiful fit.
And remember this: God is not desperate, and neither are you. When you belong to Jesus, you are His child and an heir to all that He has for you–including an awesome team of volunteers to reach the next generation. So put aside any beggarly tendencies and realize that children need so much more than just “anyone” to disciple them.
Consider the story of Gideon. There he was in the depths of the winepress–feeling insecure, hiding in fear, just getting by. But God had much bigger plans for him! Soon God poured out His power on Gideon, and when Gideon called, many came to help fight the battle (Judges 6:34-35). As it turned out, too many came. We all know the story of how God dwindled down the volunteer force until it was just the right number for God to show His strength (Judges 7:2). God dismissed those whose hearts were not fully on board with the task (Judges 7:3).
So be careful about having too many volunteers. That’s right. It actually is possible to have too many volunteers. Just as God knew that some of the people weren’t really with Gideon, the same can be true for you. You might even know who those people are: the ones that don’t really want to be there, the ones that complain about kids, the ones that are late or don’t show up, etc. Certainly Jesus loves all of those people, but they don’t need to be among your team of volunteers. Don’t feel obligated to get or keep just anyone. Avoid high-maintenance and spiritually unhealthy people. Those people won’t reflect God’s heart accurately to your kids. And those people can repel the wonderful volunteers you really want on your team. It is far better to battle for our kids with a few stellar volunteers than many who aren’t whole-heartedly on mission for the next generation. Having the right people on your team makes the workload light and fun! And having a dynamic, bright, energetic team will attract more of the right kind of leaders.
Bottom Line: So if "How do I get more volunteers?" is the wrong question, and "How do I get the right volunteers?" is the right question, what should you do next?
Right now, we suggest further supporting, training, and encouraging the dedicated people that are already on your team to help them become the "right volunteers."
We've created a comprehensive Children's Ministry Volunteers Guidebook for you to download.