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

Is a 5AM start time too early? No!

A Part of Multisite Monday

I know what you’re thinking. 5:00AM is too early for anything! In most circumstances, I would wholeheartedly agree. However, in a non-permanent multisite model, there is rarely a “too early” for set up. Things never go as planned. A section of pipe and drape has disappeared (or maybe the whole cart), the computer dongle that connects the laptop to the projector has walked off again, the baby gate hardware is bent, the four volunteers scheduled to set up your preschool room called in sick fifteen minutes ago, and why are there oil-like stains on all the rugs? Like I said…things never go as planned. At an Elevation non-permanent location we often asked our volunteers to arrive as early as 5:00AM to begin load-in.

Yes, these people were aliens from another planet that just happened to fall in love with our church. Just kidding. These were wonderful people who believed in the vision of our ministry and had a clear understanding of the role they were asked to play.

Often times in ministry we have to make the BIG ASK of team members, something that is crucial to the ongoing success of our ministry, but feels ridiculously taxing, something like a 5:00AM start time.

Through the years I’ve learned that although these BIG ASKS usually do require some sacrifice on the part of the team member, they are often as rewarding as they are burdensome. On many occasions, I’ve heard my husband coach ministry leaders through these tough conversations. He’ll often explain, “Don’t say no for them. You’re robbing them of a blessing.” Think about how you came to be in ministry? It’s probably because someone at some point asked you to do something that stretched you. You rose to the challenge, were given even more responsibility, and the rest is history.

Have I convinced you yet? If so, it’s time to start preparing. If you’re going to ask volunteers to step up, you must create a serving experience that is both efficient and rewarding. If you’re going to ask someone to arrive at 5:00AM, there better be music and coffee. Check out the start time and morning schedule for volunteers at a non-permanent Elevation Church location.

Sunday Morning

4:30AM: Box trucks carrying set-up equipment and supplies are picked up by a designated individual from a storage facility.

5:00AM: Box trucks arrive at the school or non-permanent location. Initial load-in process begins.

  • Music is playing.
  • Coffee is delivered.
  • The members of this team are in competition to beat their previous load-in time.
  • Breakfast is served to this team immediately following the completion of the initial load in.

6:00AM: Volunteers from all teams arrive to begin setup of various areas.

  • Music is playing in the hallways.
  • Coffee is available for all volunteers.
  • Supplies requested the previous week are delivered to perspective areas.

7:30AM: Breakfast is served in eHQ (Empowerment Headquarters) for all set-up volunteers.

  • Hot, homemade food is offered along with gourmet coffee and a variety of teas.
  • Volunteers are encouraged to sit as teams and catch up with one another.
  • Tables are decorated and scattered with tiny notes of encouragement.

8:00AM: An all-volunteer rally begins in eHQ (lead by campus staff).

  • Specific volunteers are recognized and honored for their sacrifice and contribution.
  • A story of life change, specific to the campus, is shared to remind volunteers of the impact they are having.
  • A short five minute devotional thought is shared.
  • All volunteers pray together.

8:30AM: Volunteers are dismissed to their perspective areas to meet as a team and discuss any special considerations for the day.

  • Volunteers are encouraged to connect, share and pray together.

9:10AM: Volunteers are in place to welcome and serve those attending.

At Elevation we ask all volunteers to serve during one experience and attend during another. During the first six weeks of launch all volunteers are asked to be present and accounted for at all times (an all-in mindset). At week seven, we assign half of our area volunteers to set-up and half to tear-down. Those that serve during the 9:30AM worship experience also serve on the set-up team. They serve, then head into the main auditorium to attend the 11:30AM worship experience. Those that attend during the 9:30AM worship experience will serve at 11:30AM and assist in tear-down. All volunteers are asked to be on campus by 8:00AM for breakfast and the all-volunteer rally.

There is no perfect schedule. Arrival times are always being tweaked and updated. Your goal should not be to ask less of your teams. The goal is to make the most of their serve time and create community among your volunteer base. When considering start times, set-up, tear-down and volunteer systems, it’s important to remember the benefits should outweigh the sacrifices. Focus on making your volunteer experience as rewarding as possible. Happy teams last. Fulfilled volunteers produce excellence.

Don’t be afraid to make the BIG ASK of your volunteers. 5:00AM isn’t too early if you’re prepared to make the experience an enjoyable one. Volunteers will enthusiastically accept a challenge when they feel called to something significant. Keep the vision clear, honor the sacrifice and make the experience fun!

For additional Multisite Monday articles, click here.

Jess Bealer

Help! I Need Somebody!

A Part of Multisite Monday

Have you ever looked at your ministry and been completely stumped? Have you ever had an insane urgency to sing an ode to the Beatles and break out with, “Help! I Need Somebody!” You’re not alone. We’ve all found ourselves at that crucial crossroads.

For the past 17 years, I’ve had the privilege to minister to children and families. At the age of 19, I took my first children’s director position. I was wide-eyed and passionate with big dreams. I can honestly say God has guided my path and allowed me to pursue greater opportunities than I could have possibly imagined. The past six years saw me leading the children’s ministry of one of the largest and fastest growing churches in America. It was an incredible journey.

About six months ago, my husband and I made a major transition in our life. We went on staff with Orange and began helping churches all over the globe better minister to kids, students and families. I also began consulting and coaching with leaders and ministries from around the country.

Whether you need a one time comprehensive evaluation or are interested in establishing on ongoing coaching relationship, I believe I can HELP.

My areas of expertise extend to children’s ministry multisite and launching, volunteer recruitment, coaching and appreciation, preschool and elementary age programming, systems, standards, atmosphere, staff culture, and time management and personal health.

Despite the demand of writing, speaking and managing the craziness of a six-person household, I have elected to open three additional consulting slots as we head into fall.

As summer quickly comes to a close and your church begins preparing for a SGS (strategic growth season), it’s always nice to have a new set of eyes and fresh ideas. I would love to partner with you and your team as we set the stage for God to move in miraculous ways!

If you’re interested in learning more, leave a comment below. 

Jessica Bealer

For additional Multisite Monday articles, click here.

Ready or Not: 3 Steps to a Successful Launch

Free Resource: Quick Check Weekend Observations

If you’re just starting out in Multisite, maintaining minimum standards may seem to be a manageable feat. For the most part, at two locations, it is. You essentially replicate what is working. Why reinvent the wheel? It’s a great starting point. However, the key to success in multisite is healthy systems that are built to last but can be adapted as growth occurs and expansion is needed. Think of it as adding spokes to the wheel. You’re going to be driving a bigger machine that will need better alignment and additional support.

Wondering where to start? Here are 3 goals for system implementation.

Define Excellence

I define excellence as, “the minimum standard required to make a positive and impressive impact.” Excellence is always the goal. Therefore, anything below this standard is unacceptable. When communicating excellence, it’s important to describe it in a manner that is easily understood and reproducible. Point to a situation and say, “This is great! Do this again.” or “How do you feel when you are being served at Chick-Fil-A or assisted at Publix?” Don’t negate the importance of emotion when identifying and labeling excellence with your teams.

Clarify Expectations

Written guidelines. Written guidelines. Written guidelines. Your expectations must be written down and distributed. Defining excellence is about emotional inspiration, but clarifying expectations is about practical application. What must your teams do in order to meet your minimum standards, your definition of excellence. Don’t assume your leaders know. Take the guesswork out of the equation and give them a framework to operate within.

Build Excitement

When your teams have a clear understanding of what excellence looks like and what is required of them, anticipation begins to develop. A healthy team is a hungry team. Once excellence has been achieved and unity has been established, there is a natural tendency for leaders to look around and ask, “What’s next?” When this occurs, it’s only a matter of time before an upsurge of attendance occurs and expansion is necessary. If you want to reach this stage sooner rather than later, make plans and establish timelines for the next season. Ask yourself, “What happens when we reach the end zone? What’s next?” Make sure to outline future endeavors and share these with your teams.

Here’s an example of how to communicate standards and expectations, as well as build excitement for what’s next:

Define Excellence: “Excellence is…when every family walking through the door of our church feels loved, known, and inspired. How did you feel when you first came? How can you help others experience that same connection?”

Clarify Expectations: “Every preschool family should receive individual attention during pick-up. A personal one-on-one conversation offering insight into their child’s classroom experience is expected. In addition, you will hand them a newsletter outlining the items parents are most interested in. Review this handout with mom or dad. Ask if he or she has questions. Give him or her the opportunity to share thoughts.”

Build Excitement: “Once our families feel connected and well cared for, I am certain we will see growth. At that point, we will consider adding another toddler room in our preschool area. If we continue to grow, the leadership of the church will consider launching another location nearby.”

In a Multisite Model, as you launch additional locations, you’ll find every campus is unique in size, ethnicity, culture, and economic class. Despite the diversity, your minimum standards of excellence should not vary.

Here’s an example of one way in which eKidz defined excellence and clarified expectations: Quick Check Weekend Observations

Once a quarter, each children’s director at every location was asked to work through this Quick Check document. He or she would talk to team leaders, observe system operations, and make notes of problematic areas. This encouraged campus directors to identify missed opportunities and make adjustments. In addition, by reviewing this document and tweaking it as needed, it allowed the children’s ministry admin team to update, maintain, and communicate centralized standards.

If your church is operating within a multisite strategy or just considering it, it’s important to position yourself for expansion. Excellence will never be reached if not defined. Your teams will consistently fail to meet your expectations if never communicated. Encourage leaders to dream of what could be and prepare as if it’s a certainty, not just a possibility. Work hard at being the best. Position yourself for expansion and watch God move.

For additional Multisite Monday articles, click here.

Jess Bealer

Can You Really Balance Life and Ministry?

 

by | Jul 14, 2017 | Ministry Leaders, Orange Leaders

I married my high school sweetheart. Frank was the lead guitarist in a local band, two years older than I, a rebel with a cause, and he was hopelessly in love with me. The good news…I felt the same. I was smitten, and at the age of nineteen I stood before God, friends, and family and promised to love him forever. I always have and I always will, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t experienced bumps along the way. As I mentioned, we were practically kids when we recited our vows. We literally grew up together. In the sixteen years we’ve been married, we’ve traveled the world, changed jobs a half dozen times, lived in four states, flipped eight houses, had three children, adopted a fourth, fought off a debilitating disease, and clearly heard the call to fulltime ministry, which required a 70 percent pay decrease.

Of all that we’ve experienced, the call to ministry was by far the most challenging, and it wasn’t because of the reduction in our finances. Read more. Click HERE.

Multisite Monday – 8 Do’s and Don’ts for Volunteer and Staff Kids

Part Two

A couple weeks back I shared 8 Do’s for Volunteer and Staff Kids. Before we jump into today’s content, here’s a brief recap…

Growing up, my parents were the ultimate church volunteers. My mom was a Sunday School teacher, my dad the Sunday School Director and Associate Pastor. When I was a teenager, he announced his call to preach. As much as I loved Jesus, I came to resent the church building itself. I endured long hours inside those brick walls, bored and wishing to be anywhere else. Yet, at 19 years old, I felt God’s call on my life. It was very specific. He wanted to use my own experience to fuel my passion and make church FUN for kids. Over my 17 years in children’s ministry, I’ve strived to create environments that engage and attract children, especially staff and volunteer kids. Today’s post is Part 2 of 8 Do’s and Don’ts for Volunteer and Staff Kids. It will focus on those things that should be avoided in order to connect and minister to the families you see most often. I would encourage you to start with Part 1.

Up until December 2016, and for the past six years, my husband and I had led the family ministry at Elevation in Charlotte, North Carolina, a fast-growing church of 16 locations and nearly 30,0000 attendees. One of the areas in which we found success was called Clubhouse. Clubhouse is an environment designed specifically for staff and volunteer kids. At Elevation, parents attend one worship experience and serve during another. As a result, volunteer and staff kids are at church for more than four hours. Clubhouse ensures they don’t get bored or serve as a distraction.

Clubhouse is an area where kids can eat a snack, hang out with friends, watch movies, play boardgames, engage in video game tournaments, craft, and play with toys. Kids love the low key environment and parents appreciate the energy and effort expended to care for their children while they are busy serving Jesus.

Having a defined strategy is key. Here are 8 things to avoid when establishing a plan to better engage and minister to staff and volunteer kids.

DON’T

DON’T expect them to be exemplary pupils.

  • Kids are kids. While I strongly believe regular church attendance helps young minds develop a more defined and Biblically based sense of morality, it’s important to remember even great kids have bad days, weeks, and years. Believe me, my funny and sweet 11 year-old, Isaac, was not so pleasant when he was three. If I’m being honest, he was a terror. I wanted to apologize every time I dropped him off. If you’re creating a Clubhouse type environment and expecting the kids in attendance to behave like angels that treasure the space, put away games, and listen the first time an adult speaks, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Clubhouse at Elevation is loud, somewhat chaotic, busy, and FUN! When children feel safe to be who God made them, they’ll start to anticipate that freedom. They’ll begin to look forward to the long hours at church.

DON’T punish them or make them an example because they are “tough enough” to handle it.

  • The kids in your ministry will act out, especially in an environment in which their energy is allowed and encouraged. As with anything in life, a bad choice can result in unfortunate consequences. I’m not suggesting you should let volunteer and staff kids run wild, but make an effort to understand the stress and strain each child endures in order for you ministry to thrive and always err on the side of grace.

DON’T assume their parents are informed about what’s happening in your ministry.

  • The most uninformed parents in your congregation are typically those on staff or serving in a volunteer role. Why? They’re too close to the action. Volunteer and staff parents assume because they spend so much time within the church walls they are “in the know.” These moms and dads rarely read handouts or emails, and they never pay attention to details because they know who to call when they need a reminder. As a ministry leader, it’s incredibly frustrating, but it’s also a reality. Find ways to keep volunteer and staff parents informed. Station a volunteer at Clubhouse pick-up to relay details through face-to-face conversation. Mail handouts directly to their homes with a personalized note. Create disposable take-home bags parents can grab with all the information they need for the week. Make it a point to keep them informed and watch as they begin to understand, support, and appreciate your ministry in a whole new way.

DON’T forget about attention span.

  • Have you ever been in a car with a kid? Whether the trip is 10 hours or 10 minutes, as soon as your foot hits the gas those legendary words fall from their lips, “How much longer?” God gave us these precious, adorable, mini people with boundless energy and zero attention span. If you truly want to help kids love church, you have to keep their minds and bodies occupied. Having staff and volunteer kids repeat your Sunday morning programming multiple times will eventually create problems. When little minds and hands wander, they cause distraction and create mischief. In your Clubhouse environment, keep a steady pace of activities planned. When parents arrive to pick-up, you want their kids asking, “Can’t I stay just a little longer?”

DON’T treat them as you would all other regularly attending children.

  • Staff and volunteer kids will, on average, spend 300% more time at church than a sporadically attending child. If you strategically use this time to invest in them, you’ll find these children will be your most effective marketing tool. They’ll understand the heart of your house and the systems of your ministry and will one day be your most passionate volunteers.

DON’T allow programming constraints to limit what you can do.

  • Just because your main worship service is programmed for 60 minutes and held inside the brick walls of the church building, does not mean your Clubhouse environment should operate within those same constraints. Schedule a game truck. Turn your parking lot into a waterpark. Plan a Easter Egg hunt with mega prizes for your staff and volunteer kids during the Easter Clubhouse experience. Order Happy Meals and milkshakes from McDonald’s and sit on the playground or sidewalk for lunch. Find ways to make your Clubhouse experience feel not normal.

DON’T assume they love church.

  • I shared how, as a child, I loved Jesus but hated the church building. I was often bored and couldn’t relate to the teachings. I’m sure your church is committed to creating fun, relevant environments but every child may not initially view your ministry in a positive light. That’s okay. Treat them kindly. Ask questions. Find out what his or her interests are and make adjustments that will strategically appeal to individual interests.

DON’T babysit them.

  • We all love to be needed, to feel important, to believe that our opinion matters. Kids are no different. If anything, they are seeking validation and acceptance more than anyone else. When you schedule a volunteer and ask them to do little more than pass out gummy snacks, turn on a movie, and check tags at pick-up, kids have no motivation to be more than a number in a ratio. Instead, find adults who will take a vested interest in them as individuals. Make sure your volunteer and staff kids feel important and valued. The lengths to which kids will go to fulfill the expectations you’ve set will surprise you. Challenge them to assume leadership positions among peers. Offer incentives for scripture memorization, and find opportunities for them to take the reigns when possible and be the hands and feet of Jesus.

A successful Clubhouse environment is one of intentionality. Your strategy should be to engage kids, facilitate friendships, and bring laughter, as well as connect families on a more personal level.

In a Multisite Model, bring campus children’s director’s and Clubhouse leaders together frequently to brainstorm ideas and determine what is and is not working. Sharing supplies and strategy can save you time and money in the long run. The secret to success is not a secret at all, it’s collaboration.

If you haven’t already read Part 1, I would encourage you to go back and read the first half of this post. To check out additional Multisite Monday articles, click here.

Jessica Bealer

 

Sample Clubhouse Schedule:

8:00AM Parent Drop-off / Free Play / Morning Movie

8:30AM Breakfast

9:00AM Cleanup

9:15AM Kids transfer to class

9:30AM Clubhouse kids attend first experience

11:00AM Clubhouse volunteers pick up kids from classrooms and transfer them back to the Clubhouse area.

11:15AM Lunch

11:45AM Cleanup

12:00PM Free Play / Video games / Crafting / Art / Boardgames / OCCASIONAL SPECIAL ELEMENT

12:45PM Snack

1:15PM Parent Pick-up

*Note: Clubhouse is available for volunteer and staff kids, ages 3 through 5th grade.