Recruiting. Perhaps the biggest challenge in Children’s Ministry. Have you experienced it? If you’ve been a Children’s Ministry Leader for more than a few weeks, you undoubtedly have.
A lack of workers is nothing new. It was a challenge even in Jesus’ day.
Look what says this in Matthew 9:36:
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Sound like your children’s ministry? The “crowds” for you might be the kids & parents in your ministry, “like sheep without a shepherd” because of the lack of help.
Now, what most of us do when we find ourselves with a lack of workers is beg, borrow and plead.
- We beg the congregation, through emotional videos, posters and heartfelt stories, to “serve” in the Children’s Ministry. Sometimes we get a response from people who fell guilty. Unfortunately, these volunteers rarely serve well or long.
- We borrow volunteers from one area to serve in another, filling slots so that we can maintain our adult/child ration. This is more like childcare than it is vision-led ministry.
- We plead with those we know might step in for us, even on a short term basis. Former volunteers, those friends that have hearts of gold and can’t say no to us, or our family. Be careful though, because these people might start taking the long way around the children’s building just to avoid your pleading!
I will admit, sometimes these tactics are necessary. When 3 hundred kids show up for the Easter service instead of the 100 you expected, then go ahead and beg, borrow and plead! But if these are the standard operating procedure, you’re in trouble. This will get old with people very quickly, and you will likely burnout even more quickly.
Fortunately, there’s a better way. Jesus modeled a “recruiting” method that works far better. He didn’t beg, borrow and plead, but instead, He shows us to pray, ask and lead.
Jesus’ Model for Successful Ministry Recruiting
Jesus offered an answer – one which too often is ignored in favor of bulletin announcements, high-tech videos or plain old begging. Here’s what He said:
He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”
It may not be of great comfort, but it is good to realize that even Jesus recognized that workers are few.
There’s nothing wrong with using practical “techniques” of recruiting (begging does NOT fall into that category). However, Jesus gave us the first and primary solution – “pray to the Lord”.
Is prayer your “first option” when you need workers? It should be, for you and your team.
A great reminder comes from a quote that we’ve shared before here on the blog, and it goes like this:
Prayer does not equip us for greater works – prayer is the greater work.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest
Everything about our ministry ought to flow from our relationship with God because it is God doing the work, not us. Recruiting included.
- First and foremost, as the leader of your ministry, commit to praying for more workers.
- Inform staff, parents and others who may not serve within your ministry, of needs and ask them to be praying with you.
- Create specific prayer plans with your team. Perhaps you have a monthly volunteer prayer time, or designate a time before services on the weekend, or send out a regular prayer email. But create formal opportunities for others to pray with you specifically for the needs of the ministry.
As you read through the Gospels, you see how Jesus “recruited” the disciples. He asked.
But here’s what we need to about what Jesus asked for:
- The first part of His “ask” was to follow Him. Mark 1:17 says, “Come. Follow me…” We need, ultimately, to desire that those we recruit walk closer with Jesus as a result of their service with our ministry. So what’s your plan to invest in the spiritual walk of those you are recruiting?
- The second part of Jesus’ “ask” was that He would “make you fishers of men”. In other words, he told them specifically what he was calling them to. This was the work they would do in order to fulfill the vision of His coming. Do people know what you are asking them to do when you ask them to serve in your ministry? Be specific and make sure they understand how it will support the vision.
Once disciples were on board, Jesus didn’t abandon them. Instead, he led them in three distinct ways:
- He modeled the life of service that he wanted them to also display. There are numerous examples of this, from pouring Himself out as he served the crowds, to demonstrating humility when He washed their feet and, ultimately, by allowing Himself to be sacrificed on the cross. How are you modeling what you are asking volunteers to do in your ministry?
- He taught them. Time after time we see in the Gospel where Jesus invested in the disciples. Too often in Children’s Ministry, the people we recruit are left in the classroom and never taught how to do what we’re asking them to do. Don’t do that. Let me say it again, don’t do that! What is your plan to equip those who you are asking to serve?
- He empowered them. After showing them He was in this with them, and after teaching them to serve, He sent them out. He didn’t insist on doing everything exactly how He did, but rather told them the end goal (“make disciples”) and empowered them to go and do the work. At the end of the day, our job as church leaders is to equip people to do the work of ministry. Do that, and send them on their way.
Pray. Ask. Lead. Jesus’ model for recruiting. Are you following His example?
What have you learned about implementing Jesus’ model for recruiting?
(please share in comments below)