Recruiting for children’s ministry has never been more difficult.

COVID-19 fears and the reality for many leaders about the freedom from preparation and consistent attendance has led many potential volunteers to say no to rejoining your staff.

Your heart for the children desires more than volunteers who are “warm bodies,” but your need for staffing says you will take what you can get.

Maybe it is time to reconsider recruitment and how you ask for volunteers.

Begin and end your efforts with prayer
Remember that God hears your prayers and His timetable may not be the same as yours. Pray for obedient hearts for the people you will contact and for protection from discouragement for yourself.

Consider what you are calling volunteers to do
Do you have a clear sense of your why? Is your call to ministry compelling and meaningful? In 25 words or less, explain why volunteers should consider joining your children’s ministry team as they fulfill a vital role in the kingdom of God. Making the “ask” through this framework will help you recruit to ministry and not just need.

Your heart for the children desires more than volunteers who are “warm bodies.”

Provide options and information
Help potential volunteers understand the importance of the role you are asking them to fill. Discover if they have a preferred age group or area of ministry if there is an option for service. Have a written job description for multiple areas of ministry with the expectations clearly stated for each one.

Have an answer ready for some of the questions they may have, such as: what if I can’t serve every week, how do I find a substitute teacher, what curriculum will I be teaching, how much work does it take to prepare to teach and what steps do I need to take to be considered an “approved worker?” Assure volunteers that you will provide training opportunities to add confidence and competence in their efforts.

Make an appointment to meet with potential leaders about the position and don’t ambush them in the hallway at church. Allow time for consideration and prayer before expecting an answer.

Invite them to join your team
Plan for and promote a sense of teamwork. Let volunteers know how they fit into the bigger picture and the importance of their role to the team.

Don’t forget to “recruit” current volunteers
Show appreciation to those teachers and leaders who have stood with you this past year. Do they know what they do matters to you and your church? A public recognition, appreciation luncheon, gift cards, books, thank you notes or a verbal “thank you” or “well done” lets leaders know of your appreciation and the value of their service. They may be as weary as you are and need to know that their efforts make a difference to you and your church.

Appreciate those who work hard among you
As the Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5:12, we should respect those who serve and show them a very special love because of the work they do.

Yes, this next season may be the most difficult you have had in leadership and ministry. But remember, this is the Lord’s work and He will provide. All you are ultimately called to do is trust and obey.