Leading volunteers is a difficult assignment. There is so much to do! Volunteers can be fickle. And there are never enough.
Am I right? Just getting them to do what we’re asking them to do an be time consuming and tiring.
But there’s more that we should be focused on than the tasks that we are asking them to perform (teach this class; lead worship; prepare snacks and crafts…). As Children’s & Family Ministry Leaders, I believe that it is our responsibility to also invest in them spiritually. After all, if we are setting them in place to be spiritual leaders for the children in our ministry, shouldn’t we invest in them to ensure they are healthy spiritually? I call this spiritually caring for volunteers. Unfortunately, it’s an area that all too many leaders neglect. Instead, we just focus on getting the job done so we can get through Sunday.
How to Provide Spiritual Care for Your Volunteers
Change your perspective.
If we are to care for our volunteers spiritually, we often need to shift our mindset as to exactly what our role is. Often times, as a Children’s Ministry Leader, we simply facilitate the ministry. We recruit, train, keep kids safe, manage curriculum and resources, etc. But we don’t really have any idea of the spiritual state of our team.
But being the leader of Children’s Ministry means we are responsible for knowing the spiritual health of those within our ministry, and caring for them.
Walk the talk
Do you read your Bible? Do you pray regularly? Do you treat others kindly? Trust God? Look for ways to serve?
And, here’s the big question: Do you attend church services? (If the answer is “no”, you need to read this…really!)
If you don’t do these things, sooner or later it will become known. If you do, that also will be evident. Either way, you are influencing those you lead. Parents, volunteers and children.
If you truly want to care for others spiritually, care for yourself first. It may sounds harsh, but as I’ve worked with leaders over the years, I have often encouraged them to either truly walk the talk, or get out of ministry.
Pray for them
Oh, how I wish I could speak to each of you individually about the power of a praying leader. Do you pray for your team? If not, answer me this question: why don’t you?
The answer to why you don’t pray for your team says a lot about you. Regardless of what it says, however, why would we ever believe that we can care for our team spiritually if we don’t even pray for them?
Encourage their walk
How do you intentionally, purposely encourage the spiritual walk of your volunteers? Of course, we all need to be in God’s Word, be praying, growing in the fruit of the Spirit, etc. We need to encourage (and expect) these things in our volunteers – actively encourage them.
We also need to encourage them in the deeper spiritual things. Things to do with the heart. But how can we if we don’t know what they are? Intentionally, purposely and actively encouraging our volunteers requires that we know our volunteers. Build relationships beyond the purpose of making sure they fulfill their ministry obligations.
When we really know our volunteers, we can truly encourage them in their own spiritual walk.
Enable a discipleship P-A-T-H
This will look different in every church, but here are a few elements that you might use to create a “path” for volunteer discipleship:
- Pour into them with teaching. In other words, your volunteers need to have opportunity to be in service, or you need to create separate opportunities for them to sit under the teaching of God’s Word. They cannot pour out what they have not had poured in.
- Allow time for community. Make sure your volunteers have a sense of community among themselves. This means creating these opportunities both within the ministry, and separately. Get creative and have fun!
- Train them to serve. A huge part of discipleship is serving. Your volunteers have chosen to serve with you in Children’s & Family Ministry. Don’t miss the opportunity to disciple volunteers by training them to serve – they can learn how to communicate and teach better, how to share the Gospel, how to grow in their own faith, etc.
- Hear their needs. The first three parts of the “path” are general to your entire volunteer base. But we are all individuals. And this is where relationship comes in. You need to know and understand your volunteers and hear what they need. The larger your ministry, the more you will also need to train your core leaders to hear the needs of the volunteers under their watch.
How do you provide spiritual care for your leaders?
(Please share in comments below)