One of the most challenging aspects of children’s ministry is recruiting leadership, while the second most challenging aspect is retaining those leaders. You want your volunteer leadership to feel loved, appreciated and respected. In addition, most children’s pastors want their leadership to feel as if they have ownership in their ministry. Here are five strategies to love your leaders and help foster an environment of respect and ownership.
- Know your leaders: This first strategy will cost you the most. It takes time, energy and keen awareness. Know your leaders, know their names…confidently, know what’s going on in their lives. Then use that knowledge and talk to them. Talk beyond just “good morning” and throwing curriculum and children at them, but ask them how their week is going. Ask them how their life, children and walk with God is going. Show them you know AND care for them.
- Pray for your leaders: Pray for your leaders as much as you can. If you are truly passionate about impacting children for Christ, then your prayers for your leaders are desperately needed. They’re the ones building relationships with the kids and directly pointing them to Jesus on a weekly basis. And guess what? The enemy is not going to be a fan of that. They need our prayers to love and take ownership of the ministry.
- Affirm your leaders: Now that you know and have prayed for your leaders, tell them! Write cards, emails or text messages with words dripping with affirmation. Specific affirmation–small things they’ve done that they think no one noticed, times they’ve arrived early, stayed late or graciously filled in. Write those words and tell them they are appreciated, loved and most importantly, prayed for. We all know affirmation goes a long way.
- Gift your leaders: Depending on your budget, do your best to gift your leadership with small tokens of your appreciation. In our Kid’s Ministry we’ve done gift cards to the movies, Sonic and for our male leadership, a home improvement store (check out the free printable I made below). We’ve given plants, cups, candy and t-shirts. With budget obviously in mind, do what you can to physically show them your appreciation for their service. Our leadership has been so thankful for even the smallest gift, surprised that they would get anything at all. Make budget room to love your leaders.
- Challenge your leaders: Each year cast a vision for your ministry and challenge your leadership in a new way. Keep these challenges simple, so all volunteers feel capable of accomplishing it. This year we encouraged our leaders to pass through our kid’s meeting area even if they weren’t serving. We asked them to stop by, say hello and help foster the relationships they were developing. This didn’t require them to serve an extra Sunday or buy anything, it just challenged them to invest a little deeper.
These five strategies aren’t 100% guaranteed and won’t magically fix current issues in your ministry, but they will begin to foster an environment of love, respect and appreciation within your leadership team.
Thanks for letting me share,