You’re INVITED to SPOIL Staff and Volunteers’ Kids this CHRISTMAS!

Part of Multisite Monday

WHO: Staff and volunteers’ kids who will be at multiple worship experiences on Christmas weekend

WHAT: An area with special programming designed to keep kids engaged and happy during a long ministry weekend. You might call it CHRISTMAS CLUBHOUSE!

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • North Pole Workshop (A fun hour of Christmas crafts)
  • Santa’s Secret Shop (Kids can shop and wrap small presents for family members)
  • Polar Express Hour (Watch the movie, Polar Express, serve hot chocolate, and paint wooden trains purchased from your local craft store)
  • Visit From Santa (Have Santa visit your Christmas Clubhouse and hand out small presents to every child in attendance)
  • Winter Wonderland (Make snowflakes out of copy paper and use a blender to serve snow cream or ice cream)
  • Reindeer Games (A full hour of Christmas themed games and team building activities)
  • Christmas Bakery (Let kids decorate and package cookies to give as gifts to their parents and loved ones)
  • Holly Jolly Buffet (A colorful buffet consisting of red and green food and drink)

WHEN: If you have three or less Christmas experience times, you may want to schedule a single Christmas Clubhouse experience. If you have more than three worship experiences, it’s important to consider how many times you are asking volunteers to serve over the course of the weekend. If you have six services, and you’re asking volunteers to serve three of the six, you’ll want to offer additional Christmas Clubhouse experiences. I would suggest two Christmas Clubhouse experiences for every three services scheduled. Make a schedule of events and email to staff and volunteers letting them know ahead of time what activities are planned for each service.

WHERE: Set aside a room or area within your ministry space for your Christmas Clubhouse experiences. If you can’t find space in your current area, connect with other staff members and see what space, outside of the children’s area, may be available. Make sure to station a safety or security volunteer just outside the door, but don’t be afraid to mix it up this Christmas and step outside the norm. The room should be decorated and prepped before kids arrive. You want them to step foot into a magical Christmas land in which they never want to leave. Think you don’t have enough space? Remember you’re going to be removing a good percentage of children from your normal kids programming. This should free up space and volunteers to help.

WHY: It’s going to be an exciting Christmas weekend. Attendance will be up. People far from God will experience the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Families will be reunited and choirs of angels will rejoice as the people of God celebrate His Son’s birth. I know your personal capacity is stretched. I know you’re dreaming about room ratios and spending every extra minute in the craft aisle at Target. You’re busy to the extreme. However, if you want to truly minister and care for those in your ministry, you won’t neglect the families that ensure successful execution week after week. Make the effort. Find the funds. Kids will love you. Parents will thank you. Instead of navigating a Christmas Eve with grumpy, exhausted, bored kids, moms and dads will appreciate the excited stories of their children’s Christmas Clubhouse experiences.

In a Multisite Model, it’s important for each campus kids director to look at the space he or she has to work with and make plans accordingly. Your Christmas Clubhouse experiences may vary from location to location. Find a few volunteers at each campus who love kids and have an abundance of Christmas spirit. Make a plan, give them a budget and hand over the reigns. You’ll be surprised the lengths a volunteer team will go to ensure a Holly Jolly holiday season for the families they serve most often.

I’d love to hear from you. What other fun things are you doing to engage staff and volunteers’ kids this Christmas?

I hope you’ll come back every Monday throughout the month of December as we discuss and unpack ministry systems and strategy this holiday season.

Click here to check out additional Multisite Monday articles.

For more ministry ideas and strategies, check out my new book, Don’t Quit, available now at Amazon or at DontQuitBook.com.

Jess Bealer

9 Ways to Honor and Appreciate Volunteers this CHRISTMAS Season

Part of Multisite Monday

Your programming is nearly complete. The cue sheets are printed. Your rooms are decorated. The holiday playlist is set and your snack bowls are filled with red and green Goldfish. Christmas is coming and you are primed and prepared. It’s easy to get caught up in the details of holiday planning and lose sight of your greatest resource, your volunteers. Here are 9 ways to honor and appreciate those that will serve alongside you this Christmas.

1. Answer questions before they’re asked.

The worship service times are varied. The lesson plan looks different. The number of children in attendance will be nearly double. Christmas is an exciting time of the year for those of us in ministry, but for our teams, it’s also a time of uncertainty. One of the best ways to reassure your volunteers is to answer their questions before doubt begins to creep in. Share your plans and offer encouragement. Provide insight and bring unity before your teams show up to serve.

2. Provide fuel.

Feed them. Your volunteer teams will put in many hours serving and ministering this holiday season. A hungry belly is a distraction easily prevented. Whether you provide snacks, heavy hors d’oeuvres, pizza or a catered meal, keeping your teams well fed is key to a successful serving experience.

3. Give the gift of a memory.

Volunteering during the Christmas season can be a fulfilling experience. Connections are made. Lives are changed and we stand witness. Offer an ornament or framed team picture as a way to look back and remember the impact that was made.

4. Offer strategic break times.

Small groups will be larger than usual, classrooms stretched beyond capacity. Volunteers may be asked to serve longer hours or additional service times. When stress and strain are high, it’s important to offer additional break times to grab a snack or go to the restroom. Schedule an extra volunteer to rotate from classroom to classroom providing well-deserved relief.

5. Connect through prayer and vision.

Everyone on your team has hopes, dreams and desires this holiday season. They may wish for a friend or coworker to attend church for the first time. They may have plans to reunite with family that have grown distant. Some of them are hurting and looking for a reason to smile and celebrate. One of the best ways you can bring unity and show you care is to set expectations, define what a win looks like and connect through prayer for one another.

6. Provide sweet treats and smiles.

A fun and festive atmosphere can make the volunteer experience feel more like an opportunity than a burden. Keep a smile on your volunteers’ faces with a hot chocolate bar or candy buffet offered exclusively to those that serve.

7. Create unforgettable experiences for their children.

It can be difficult to focus when you’re worried about your kids. Consider offering an alternative experience for volunteers’ kids who will be in attendance for multiple experiences. From a Polar Express themed movie hour to a secret Santa shop, the possibilities are endless. We’ll discuss this in further detail on the blog next week.

8. Gift unique and personal presents to leaders.

You may need more volunteers to meet ratios this Christmas season, but you need experienced leaders just to be able to open the doors.  A well positioned leader is priceless. With that in mind…it’s time to spend a few dollars. Make sure those that prove the most committed are gifted with something that says, “I thank you. I value you. I know you.”

9. Celebrate success and recognize excellence.

God is going to use your ministry to move in a mighty way this Christmas. If you believe it, you should anticipate celebration. Schedule a time to reflect, share and party! Draw attention to the seasonal victories your ministry has experienced. Offer praise to those God used to make an impact. Whether it’s a dance party or a dinner, take the time to celebrate success and recognize excellence.

In a multisite model, collaboration is key when it comes to efficient care and effective appreciation of volunteers. Buying in bulk saves money. Sharing ideas produces creativity. At the end of the day, your volunteer appreciation budget and care plan may vary from location to location. However, it’s important to understand the strategy is always is the same. If you want to encourage consistency and longevity among your teams, you must clarify the vision, grant the authority to make key decisions at critical moments, and show honor and gratitude for a one’s contribution. Written as a formula it looks like this:

Clarity + Empowerment + Appreciation = Longevity

It’s a busy season, made easier by those that serve alongside you. Your ministry plan for Christmas should begin and end with showing honor and appreciation to volunteers.

I’d love to hear from you. How are you honoring volunteers this holiday season?

I hope you’ll come back every Monday throughout the month of December as we discuss and unpack ministry systems and strategy this holiday season.

Click here to check out additional Multisite Monday articles.

For more ideas and strategies about appreciating volunteers, check out my new book, Don’t Quit, available now at Amazon or at DontQuitBook.com.

Jessica

Ministry Leaders: Need More VOLUNTEERS?

Part of Multisite Monday


While on staff at Elevation, one of my responsibilities was to field and respond to church inquiries regarding family ministry. The question asked most frequently? “How do I recruit more volunteers?” It doesn’t come as a surprise. Even at Elevation, where we had more than 2,500 volunteers in children’s ministry across sixteen locations, we always needed an extra pair of hands.

As much as you fantasize about a full volunteer roster, you need more than warm bodies that help you meet a state recommended ratio. But where do you start? How do you begin to staff your ministry with people who are as committed and passionate as you?

Your impact will be determined by the health of your volunteers, the attractiveness of your ministry and the vision cast by you and your leaders. In a multisite model, the effectiveness of your volunteer care and recruitment strategy will either stimulate or restrict church growth.

Last week I had the opportunity to speak on this very topic on the Kids Ministry Collective podcast. I hope you’ll take the time to check it out. Click HERE to listen to the podcast now.

For additional FamilyMinistry.Church articles on volunteerism, click HERE.

Jess Bealer

Think Differently About Appreciating Volunteers

Part of Multisite Monday

 

A few years back I wrote an article entitled, Death To Volunteer Banquets. A little blunt? For sure. Truthful? Absolutely. The point of the article was to explain how a once a year dinner designed to cast vision and give direction but branded as volunteer appreciation does little to propel your ministry forward.

Volunteer care and appreciation can only be accomplished through strategic means. It can’t be reactive. It must be proactive. In a multisite model, it’s even easier for volunteers to fall through the cracks. Reduce burnout, isolation, and dissatisfaction by systematically creating routines that enable you to personally appreciate each and every one of your team members. Let’s take a closer look at how to do just that.

 

VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION must be PERSONAL.

Volunteer banquets treat everyone the same. They equalize the volunteer who puts in ten hours at the church office in addition to his or her full time job, with the volunteer who rarely shows up even when you call and offer reminders. Not everyone enjoys getting dressed up or eating in front of other people, and not everyone has another night to give you. What was meant to honor their sacrifice becomes another burden they must bear. Instead, I would encourage you to try a different approach. Think back to some of your all-time favorite presents. I can almost guarantee what set those gifts apart from the rest was how special and unique they were to you. Someone noticed something about you, a problem you dealt with, a preference you had, or an experience that made you feel cherished and loved. I’m not advocating for everyone on your team to get a surprise trip to his or her preferred vacation destination, but I’m sure you see the point. If you truly desire to honor those you lead, you must KNOW enough about them to appreciate them in a way that is special and unique. It must be personal.

Example: A fellow children’s director I know honors graduating seniors with a collegiate mug or water bottle filled with their favorite snack or candy. She matches the mugs to the college or university each will attend in the fall. By recognizing the season he or she is entering the director shows appreciation and support.

Tip: When volunteers sign up to serve in your ministry, have them fill out a favorites form. Ask them to list everything from their favorite restaurant and Starbucks drink to their favorite dessert or hobby. When the time comes to show appreciation, you’ll have ideas of how to uniquely honor them as individuals.

 

VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION must be ROUTINE.

Saying thank you and offering words of encouragement should come as natural to you as breathing. When you witness someone act in a big picture kind of way or notice a volunteer sacrifice time and energy to move your ministry forward offer in-the-moment praise and IMMEDIATELY make a note in your phone or planner to follow up with a word or gift of appreciation at a later time. I once heard a pastor say, “Gratitude is never silent.” Your words and actions should scream gratefulness.

Example: Before the hustle and bustle of child check-in begins, I set aside 15 minutes to walk around and say hello to each member of my team. I offer compliments on everything from a perfectly set up room to a fresh haircut. Knowing my volunteers and making them feel valued and loved is as much my responsibility as ensuring we have enough veggie straws in the cabinets.

Tip: Have a secret stash of spontaneous gifts you can grab to show on-the-spot appreciation to volunteers when you notice them acting in a way that deserves immediate recognition. Keep a variety of candy, gift cards, lotions, albums, books, or even church t-shirts on hand.

 

VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION must be SYSTEMIZED

A life in ministry is busy. The work is never done, and for many of us, we indulge in procrastination far too often. I’ve come to realize if something matters to me, I must carve out a new pattern in my life to help establish habits that are healthy and productive. Volunteer appreciation should be no different. Create systems that force the behavior. Schedule time on your calendar to send thank you notes each week. Make it a habit to swing by Starbucks or Krispy Kreme every Sunday morning and pick up sweet treats for different teams of volunteers. Divide your volunteer appreciation budget into a monthly amount and set reminders to spend that money regularly. If you don’t have money set aside in your church budget to honor volunteers, advocate for it. When you systemize your volunteer appreciation it won’t be long before the practice becomes a pattern.

Example: During the holiday season, Elevation honors volunteers by honoring their children. Each year they create a Christmas clubhouse promising seasonal treats and activities to help kids enjoy the long hours spent at church each Christmas.

Tip: Create a card writing station and encourage leaders to utilize it to show appreciation to their teams. Provide beautiful stationary, colorful gel pins, stickers, confetti, and $5 gift cards. Then ask every leader to write two cards to volunteers they caught going above and beyond. Make it easy by only requiring them to write the volunteers’ names on the envelope. You can always go back and add the stamp and address later.

 

Let’s be honest, all volunteers are not created equal. Some are incredible. They move your ministry forward and you wonder what you would do without them. Others show up and get the job done and while you’re thankful for their service, they may not shine like those showstopper vols you cling to so tightly. Then there are those who you may or may not see during their scheduled service time. They arrive late, rarely smile, and occasionally spout something that has everyone around them rolling their eyes. Their contribution is little more than a ratio met. These types of volunteers are few and far between. They exist, but are definitely in the minority. Over the years, I’ve discovered that almost everyone serving in ministry signed up with altruistic intentions. No matter their “type,” at some point they just wanted to make a difference in the life of a child or student. They wanted families to feel welcome and empowered, and they wanted the personal fulfillment that comes with serving. But ministry is messy. Toddlers throw tantrums. Parents get offended. Supplies go missing. Systems change and then change again. Before you know it, a volunteer is throwing his or her hands in the air and walking out the door, or in most cases, disappearing to never be heard from again.

There are a million different reasons why a volunteer vanishes, but I’ve found more often than not, it’s because they’ve fallen off our radar. For too long in ministry, we’ve relied on a slap on the back or a kind word to keep volunteers energized and moving forward. That’s a great start, but ultimately it’s not enough. Your volunteer base may be the key to execution for your ministry, but it’s crucial to remember these are individuals with interests, concerns, and needs, and one of their greatest needs is to be valued by you, their leader.

In a multisite model, systemizing your volunteer appreciation is essential if you want to build team camaraderie and increase longevity. Whatever system you create must be transferable from one location to another. Systemizing volunteer appreciation doesn’t have to be complex to be complete. Effectiveness is most often found in personal touches and meaningful relationships.

Join me again next Multisite Monday as I talk about First Time Guest follow-up and care.

 

Jess Bealer

Volunteers That Lead Like Staff w/ Nick Blevins

NickBlevinsPodcast

 

In the newest podcast by Nick Blevins, we talk about how to help volunteers lead like staff. At Elevation Church, volunteers are empowered to lead in big ways in every ministry. We talk about what those roles look like, how to recruit to them, what Elevation does to help volunteers get their culture and how they ensure volunteers are cared for and heard from.

Check it out here.

 

Frank Bealer

#OC15 Session Notes: Not Normal – 7 Quirks of Incredible Volunteers

I really enjoyed this breakout which highlighted the content of the new book by Sue Miller and Adam Duckworth. Here are some notes and a fun video.

Quirk #1: Start Somewhere. 

  • 80% of people just don’t know where to start.
  • Most people are so overwhelmed with the need that they never start.
  • As leaders encourage them to start somewhere!
  • Encourage people to try something they LIKE and to start over if they’ve been BURNED!

Quirk #2: Small is Big

  • The smallest things we do have the biggest results.
  • Small things bring about not normal results.
  • Speaking encouraging words, sending birthday cards, etc.

Quirk #3: Own Don’t Rent

  • “If you want to be a not normal volunteer you need to be an owner not a renter.”
  • Owners invest more for a bigger return.

Quirk #4: You, Me & We

  • This is not about ME. This is not about YOU. It’s about how WE do this together!
  • It is about looking side to side to see what is going on around you – rather than focusing on yourself.

Quirk #5: Honor The Leader 

  • Embrace Your Leaders Vision – It will drain volunteers to be part of a vision that they do not support.
  • Sometimes the best thing a volunteer can do is to amicably move on if they are in conflict with their leaders over vision.
  • “Your leader needs a cheerleader, not a drama queen.”

Quirk #6: Replace Yourself

  • Let go of what you want. Let go of your current role. And, let go of controlling your future.

Quirk #7: You Can’t Always See It

  • Volunteers can’t always see the impact they are making.
  • Remind your volunteers often that even if they can’t always see it – they are making a difference.