Mark: Mr. Mark’s classroom season one episode seven. Did you like that?
Amy: Yeah, remember when I used to introduce you? That’s over now.
Mark: Roll the music.
Speaker 3: Mr. Mark’s classroom
Speaker 4: This is the podcast dedicated to intentional leadership in childhood ministry.
Speaker 3: Mr. Mark’s goal is to resource you with tools, ideas, and a passion for leading kids to become lifelong followers of Jesus
Speaker 4: Let’s get this episode rolling with the man at Champions Kids Ministry today, Mr. Mark Jones.
Mark: Amy, I am so glad you’re here today. I noticed yesterday that you were a little bit down, quiet, sleepy, like a real pain in the neck, because you …
Amy: You’re calling me a pain in the neck?
Mark: No because you have a pain …
Amy: Next thing you know, you’re getting the boot. Boot to the neck. You’re getting fired.
Mark: You had a pain in the neck.
Amy: Let’s start the save the Amy campaign.
Mark: I just think we need to save to buy you a pillow that doesn’t give you a pain in the neck.
Amy: Yeah, it’s the pillow.
Mark: The pillow. That can be an issue.
Amy: It’s not Mr. Mark at all.
Mark: Everybody needs plenty of sleep, and I’m afraid that a lot of our Children’s Ministry friends actually burn the candle at both ends and maybe a little heated in the middle, maybe got a hairdryer on it, I don’t know.
Amy: It’s because somebody’s always melting their middle, okay?
Mark: I’m trying to melt some of my middle right now.
Amy: Melt it in the middle while we’re all jiggly and wiggly.
Mark: One of the big things that we’re losing sleep about right now is we’re trying to get all of our Vacation Bible School workers enlisted. Even as we speak, we’ve got coordinators that are meeting and calling and trying to figure out how do we get an army of people enlisted to work in Vacation Bible School. I felt like today we really need to talk about enlisting Vacation Bible School workers. I think there’s a couple of things that help in this. It’s different than Sunday school.
Amy: If anybody would like to come to work at the Coil Springs Bible Church VBS, our phone number is …
Mark: We welcome you with open arms, because we’re trying to enlist an army of people.
Amy: Yeah, and some people have chosen to go on vacation that week.
Mark: I heard that.
Amy: That’s appalling.
Mark: That hurts my heart. It wasn’t the pastor, so thank goodness. Our pastor would never do that anyway, but I have heard of other …
Amy: No, he’ll be at convention.
Mark: … churches. No, no.
Amy: He won’t?
Mark: Is that that week?
Amy: I don’t know, but I’m going on vacation, too.
Mark: I won’t say that, that’s just mean. No you’re not.
Amy: I’m getting married that week. April fool’s. It’s over, isn’t it?
Mark: It’s over. I want to say, one of the biggest challenges we face are people are so busy, maybe they just totally lack confidence that they could do it, and I’ve even heard people say, “Oh, I’m not really not called to that ministry.” Really? I’m calling you, let’s talk. I think that we need to get people in there. I’ve also heard people say, “Oh, I’ve done my time.”
Amy: I hate that one.
Mark: That makes me crazy. Other people say they just need a break from kids. They just want to come and drop their kids off and go back home. I understand, we all have those days, those moments, but really, this is a great time of sharing in the greatness of what your kids are learning. I’m going to say this is like a mission trip that we don’t have to leave. You get to actually sleep in your own bed at night instead of sleeping on a hard bed somewhere where you’re sweating. This is really great, if you’ll frame it that way, to be able to do it.
Amy: If it would help, I’d say go ahead and turn the air conditioner off and sweat.
Mark: No, it won’t help.
Amy: Don’t take a shower all week or do laundry.
Mark: That won’t help, that won’t help. I want everybody right now to take a deep breath. It’s all going to be okay.
Amy: This is going to sound obscene, like an obscene phone call or whatever.
Mark: No it’s not, because we need to relax. It’s all just fine. I’ve got a few key points here that I want to share with you. First key point is that we really need to talk about you, the person who’s organizing this, the person who’s doing the enlisting, because sometimes we get so stressed out in all of this that we may have taken on more than we can do. It’s not just enlisting for Vacation Bible School, but what is your schedule? Are you starting late on this? Are you volunteering for everything at the end of school? Are you volunteering for multiple things that are going on, or are you really trying to give your time and your attention to what God’s called you to do here? You get so stressed because your own schedule gets out of whack. You’re stacking your workload, and so now you’re looking at me like, “That’s the pot calling the kettle black,” right? Is that what you’re thinking? No?
Amy: I wasn’t going to say it out loud on the air.
Mark: I do have a tendency to stack a lot of things.
Amy: I’m going to say.
Mark: I’m saying, because I’m realizing in my own life that we have to say no to some things. It’s hard to say no. Honestly, …
Amy: It is.
Mark: … it’s very hard to say no, but we’ve got to plan farther ahead so we know what’s on the calendar. Quit, Amy, I’m trying to plan.
Amy: I know, I was just thinking sometimes we have to get on our knees and pray for conviction of everyone who’s saying they’re done, they’ve done their time.
Amy: Convict them, Lord, because they still need to do some time.
Mark: That almost sounds like strike them out. It did sound like that.
Amy: You know, sometimes I get an attitude.
Mark: Yes, I think we all get an attitude when people are telling us no, and their reasons are [crosstalk 00:06:25].
Amy: What you’re saying is poor planning on our part does it.
Mark: Yes, starting late, all of that, it’s bad for the whole thing.
Amy: I have done that too. I have messed it up. If anybody can mess that up pretty good, it’s me.
Mark: I think people don’t really know where to grab a hold of this, where to start. Right now, when you can spend time in the morning, or if it’s poor weather outside or something, sit down, open the file folders for the first time, and just start making a list of all the things you need to think through, and you’ll see just getting the ball rolling will help. Often we just don’t know where to start and so we keep delaying, and that kind of resistance is no good, and you can bust through that very easily. Just grab a piece of paper and start making a list.
Amy: The thing that I found successful a lot was when I very first sent out an email to everyone who worked before and said, …
Mark: There you go.
Amy: … “I want to give you the first chance to sign up where you did last year.”
Mark: Very good.
Amy: Actually, you get pretty good response off of that.
Mark: Right, and I have found that having a key emphasis day in the church that we’re … Maybe work with the pastor, set the date. This is the day we’re going to put in the bulletin and we’re going to emphasize it from the stage, and the pastor’s going to give his endorsement, and we’re going to get the ball rolling. You’ll find yourself getting ready for that day and it’ll help motivate you. You need to hack your own schedule, your daily routine. I put up a blog post earlier that said, “Is it routine or rut-tines?”
Amy: That was funny.
Mark: You get stuck, and you’re like, “I don’t even feel like I’m creative anymore, I can’t do …” They need for you to be the leader and get the ball rolling, and the sooner you start the better. Look at your own schedule. What do you need to say no to? Where do you need to start? Let’s get going.
Amy: And quit making it so hard.
Mark: Yeah, and whiny, and don’t be a crybaby. Do what God called you to do and love it, because he trusted you big time with this. That’s pretty big deal. Key point number two: Pray before doing. Isn’t it true that we often pray as a last resort? I hate that, that’s terrible. It’s like, “Lord, I can’t get anybody.”
Amy: Pray, what?
Mark: “I can’t get anybody to do this. Why don’t you help people come out?” Well, why didn’t you pray when you started? One of the greatest things that I think I’ve done for praying for VBS is to make a list of all the needs that we had. It’s on a word document, and they put a line across it, and under that put answered prayers. Any time there was an answered prayer, I just highlighted that line and pulled it down below for the answered prayers. It always adjusted itself …
Mark: … in order to do that. I shared it with the staff, share it with the prayer ministry, share it with specific Sunday school classes that you know are praying. You just watch how people get behind you and join you in prayer. You as the leader are going to have to lead out in that, too.
Amy: I’ll say too, when you start praying early, we had jump start in the fall, you’re seeing stuff in the Winter. Before January hits, you’re into VBS, we all are. When you start praying early on about how God wants VBS to happen, then if there’s some changes or anything like that, schedule changes or how you’re going to do rotations or …
Mark: True, providing for growth.
Amy: Yeah, anything like that, or adjustment, and it starts early so you’re not frustrated in the end as bad.
Mark: True, it’s true.
Amy: God has time to work and make it what he wants it to be.
Mark: I agree.
Amy: One year, I remember going to my workers and saying, “I really felt like God was telling us this was like a revival.” We put lots of energy, money, attention to this, and it’s reviving our church. It’s something our entire church …
Mark: Gets behind.
Amy: … gets behind, and it’s good for the whole.
Mark: Everybody. Being able to include everybody in the prayer part of this is a great first step in awareness and asking the lord together as a church, but you have to lead out in that. Matter of fact, Matthew 9:37 and 38 says that we are to pray to the lord of the harvest, that he will send laborers. It is our responsibility to be praying. All right, I think it’s important, also, that we help people get in the place that they like to serve, and no, we’re not just filling a hole in our spreadsheet. Be praying about how you will know who enjoys what and help people to get there. Just remember, if it’s God’s ministry, that it is too important to be desperate about it, so we need to start early, we need to be able to include more people. Are you at a place where you can pray and turn this over to him, since he’s the one who fits the church together perfectly and will provide for the needs? We can trust him, and people need to see that in us as leaders that we’re willing to trust him and to follow him. When they hear it in our voice saying, “God’s going to provide. Let’s keep praying, let’s keep asking and be diligent about what he’s called us to do.”
Key point number three is vision. Many people take the stance of trying to get all of the workers, like secretarial or something clerical that they’re just going to check off all the list, they’re going to turn in the right paper work or whatever, it’s going to be proofread. No, no, it’s so much more than that. You need to cast the vision. What do you want to see happen this year? Is it more numbers? Is it that we’re going to be better prepared to share the gospel? Is it that we’re going to reach a certain area of our city that we haven’t really focused on? Let them see your passion. Don’t expect workers to develop their own passion for VBS. They really want to hear you cast the vision. Where is your faith in this? Speak this to them. What do you want to see happen, and then watch them get behind a leader who has got their mind made up on seeing something great happen rather than, “Let’s just mark this off the list.”
Amy: Yeah, because their attitude will reflect yours in all things. If you walk around whiny, “Let’s just get this over with, I can’t wait until the day after,” then that’s what they’re going to think, too. Instead, focus on enjoying the entire part of it. Rejoice in who you’ve recruited, and don’t just leave them on the line. Go back and say, “What do you need? I can help you.” Whatever it is, you recruited them, so to them that was one single process. You’ve recruited a hundred people, but to them it’s just one, so don’t leave them hanging and keep … Yeah.
Mark: Tell them I want to resource you to be everything you want to be. The greatness that I see in you is fixing to bloom, it’s fixing to emerge.
Amy: Yeah, and then during the week go back and say, “Man, I saw you doing this, …
Mark: Yes, all that affirmation.
Amy: … and your kids are loving you,” …
Amy: … all those things. You just keep it really positive and forward-moving, and they’re going to reflect that.
Mark: All that’s real, it’s authentic. You don’t have to make that up, it’s really what your heart is. Is your heart like mine, saying, “I can hardly wait for the first day. When those kids get here, they’re going to love this. I can hardly wait to see them in this.” Is that the anticipation that you’re building? Now, in this vision, there’s a couple of things that you want to not do, and I just want to point out a few things to avoid. One is expecting announcements to get volunteers.
Amy: Oh, yeah.
Mark: That can’t be the only thing you do, just announce it. That’s not going to be good enough. Guilting people into working. You’ve heard me say before that I had all the children come up on the stage and say, “These children need a teacher,” and all the positions were filled, but six weeks later they all quit because it just guilts them, so don’t do that. Then, don’t forget, people think, “Maybe if I just put it in the church newsletter, maybe the bulletin on Sunday,” that that’s all it’ll take. It’s not. That is a way of communicating needs, but it isn’t the only enlistment. Stay away from wanted posters. We don’t need wanted posters hanging around. I think one thing to remember is assume that no does not mean never. I’ve even enlisted someone, Amy, that told me no on one particular job, and then I came back later and said, “I know that your time is limited. What about something like this? Would that work for you,” and it was a yes, because I took the time to listen to why and I had something that fit that better, her needs. Maybe she was overqualified for it, but it didn’t matter. I still needed that filled and she was temporary on time, so that worked out.
I think we also have to stay away from those type of scary announcements, like sending in a tattered woman that says, “We’ve got to have help back here, we’re going to die.” Who wants to go feed lions? That’s bad stuff. A short window of time usually leads to hammering people, because you’ve tried to get it done in a short window of time, so you need to, again, think longer, think more time. If vision is really going to be part of this, it’s going to be about being transparent. Listen, you’re not perfect, and trying to keep up an image that you are will suck all your energy away, so just be who you are and it won’t be perfect. Be transparent, but share your heart. Let your heart be transparent, too. That’s what people will cling to, and they want to be a part of that. Even the statistic of eighty-five percent before age fourteen are going to start a relationships with Jesus. That’s a huge vision statement. This is a great opportunity.
Amy: Sometimes you’ll get bombarded with people that are the negative Nellys, or they’re the worry worts, maybe is the better word for it. You are down teachers, or you are down workers in a certain area, and they just keep going, “What are we going to do? What are we going to do?” Be honest and say, “I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we’re going to pray, because maybe God has a different plan for this age group.”
Mark: It’s true.
Amy: “Or, if we have to combine classes, we just will.” Somebody was supposed to step up, and I say point them back to what God has the vision for. Then, if he answers and someone obeys him and follows through, make sure you say that, too.
Mark: Yeah, that’s right, say that.
Amy: We were sweating it, and we were praying, and we knew God would take care of it, and look, …
Mark: He provided.
Amy: … he brought us three teachers. Remember, he brought us three teachers, …
Mark: He is faithful.
Amy: … he will do it again, because we are the witness and the testimony to those who are following us.
Mark: That’s right. [crosstalk 00:18:30].
Amy: If all they hear is wining and, “Poor us,” they won’t know how great God is.
Mark: I agree, that’s totally right. Now, let’s think about the actual strategy of enlisting these VBS workers. I’m going to say, first of all, see yourself as ministering to everyone. One of the great things about VBS is it’s only for a week. Isn’t that great? You can even enlist people to be part of the followup team that isn’t a part of the actual VBS teaching faculty. I’ve used deacons who worked during the week and couldn’t be there in our morning VBS who actually came in the evenings and did the followup, and even the week later they were still doing the followup. They were huge. There are people at different times who can do different things, so see yourself as more than just all the mommies. You’ve got more people.
Last year I even announced that we’re still needing some more teachers, and I would love to have some men. I know that might mean going in a little bit late to work or even taking vacation time, but would you consider it? Just making that announcement, I had a man came up to me and said, “I really want to do that, I own my own business. I don’t even have to put in for vacation time, it’s my business.” He told me all week long how much he loved it. Had a highway patrolman who would take his vacation every year so that he could be there. These are huge opportunities, but we forget to plant that seed for people to be a part.
Amy: Sure, and dads bring such a different element …
Mark: Oh, they do.
Amy: … to the picture.
Mark: They do. Children get to see how Christian men respond. What’s important? It’s not just the ladies, it’s everyone. I think you have to create a buzz. You can be walking around the halls meeting people and building relationships with people so that they trust you when you ask them to work in any of the children’s ministry, but you also have to create a buzz. I had the kids come up on stage with backdrops of the VBS scene and I made the announcement. One year it involved a rickshaw, and I had two little boys roll me in on a homemade rickshaw. It was hilarious.
Amy: I did that too.
Mark: You did too?
Mark: It was so much fun. Every year we can do new things that would help build that interest, but you’ve got to create a buzz. Think of creative ideas. If it’s from having a balloon launch that you go outside and everybody lets go of a balloon that has an invitation to VBS, great, do that. It may be as much as even taking time to make a video announcement so that people can watch it on the website.
Amy: I think something you have to do is you got to get over yourself.
Mark: Yeah, that’s true. Get comfortable.
Amy: You got to get over yourself. You know what? Being silly makes everybody around you more comfortable.
Mark: And they remember it.
Mark: They remember it.
Amy: Get over those hurdles.
Mark: If you can’t be that guy, you are always going to be the straight guy and you need someone else to be the funny guy, then go ask them. There’s people who are really ready to do that, so ask them to help you create a buzz and maybe do a little skit in the announcements, whatever. That’ll make a big difference. I think it’s time to make the ask. I think what you said was really key, that you went ahead and called everyone, or emailed everyone, from last year, and said, “We need you. Will you do this?”
Amy: And we want you.
Mark: Yeah, we want you, absolutely. For me, when I’ve had to do enlistment things, I’ve had to set a calendar week. This is the week, I’m not going to take other meetings and other commitments, I just need to get this done. You got to guard that week, because it feels like, when you’re doing enlistment calling and stuff, you’re going to do that in some spare time. It’s just phone calls, it’s just emails, but the truth is, it gets choked out with all these other things.
Amy: You know what, I’ve sat down with people and said, “You know what? You’re going to be better to call them than I would be,” and they’ve said to me, “They’ll respond to you better than they will me,” …
Mark: That’s great, do it.
Amy: Do it.
Mark: Yeah, just trade off like that, and don’t get your feelings all stuck on that.
Mark: It’s okay.
Amy: No, yeah.
Mark: Share the love. Create all the classes that you’re going to need for VBS, consider any growth that you’re going to have. We’re trying to plan for extra classes in every age, every grade, in order to have enough, and we’re trying to figure out how to fit all those into the rooms that we have, as well. Then, after you ask the previous teachers, recognize where it is that you’re going to need teachers, and start sending out letters to some new members. Maybe there’s been some people who have joined since last year, maybe it’s some people who couldn’t work last year that would work. Maybe they had an ill family member that they were taking care of, and this year they’re going to be free. Maybe they were gone on a vacation or something, but they’ll be here this year. Go through and recognize who wasn’t on the list last year that you could have again this year.
Also, think about grandparents. Sometimes we don’t always go after the senior adults like we should, but they are such great workers. We don’t want to overlook those kids’ grandparents at all. We need our senior adults and a big, big way. I have found that when I ask someone point blank, if it’s on a phone call or if it’s in person, and I try not to do it in the church hallways. I want people to come to worship and not avoid me like the plague, because I learned that the hard way, it’s testimony [crosstalk 00:24:57]. I ask people if they’d be willing to work, and then say, “I’m going to give you a couple of weeks to think about it.” It takes the pressure off of having to ask and answer immediately. You may get a yes that really is a no, you may get a no right there, but if you gave them all the information, ask them to think about it, and then tell them, “I want you to have a couple of weeks to pray about it. Consider it, talk it over with your family, and I’ll get back in touch with you.” Maybe even email them in between so that way you could be able to get an honest answer.
Amy: I think your approach is really important, and you should pay attention to how you approach people.
Mark: It’s true.
Amy: If you do approach someone at church, because you’re going to at some point, really think about how you’re going to approach someone, what you’re going to say to them, before it comes out of your mouth. If you attack them and you’re wagging your finger, even if you think you’re joking, wagging your finger at them, “I got the job for you, blah, blah,” they’re like, “What,” …
Mark: Threatened, yeah.
Amy: … instead of, “Hey, I was going to talk to you about thinking about something, and just want you to think about it,” or whatever.
Mark: Really, relationships are first, they’re always first. If you’re going to come up to somebody and say, “Oh, I heard that your mother was very sick and in the hospital, I hope she’s okay.” “Yes, she’s going to be fine.” “Well good, I was hoping maybe I could talk to you about working in VBS.” Really? That says, “I didn’t care a bit about your family.”
Amy: Yeah, I had an agenda.
Mark: That’s terrible. Please, steer away from that. Either be one or the other, but don’t couple those together. Your relationships are so important. Make that the priority, absolutely. Identify life with them, because you’re very much the face of Kids’ Ministry, and you want to identify life with them. Treat people the way you want to be treated, so respect them, build trust with them, and if they say no, then thank them for considering it and move on. Listen, you’re going to hear no a lot, so get ready.
Amy: I know, you are. Even if you are about one hundred percent sure you’re going to hear no, sometimes people just need to be asked.
Mark: I’ve seen that paralyze leaders and not ask, “Oh, they always say no.” Well, maybe they won’t this time.
Amy: Right, maybe they won’t, or maybe God’s going to work through that for them, but go ahead and do the ask.
Mark: Yeah, make the ask, I agree.
Amy: It’s okay, don’t take it all personally.
Mark: Totally agree with that. It’s his church, he’s putting it together, you don’t have to take it personally. He’s working in ways we have no idea.
Amy: That’s right, and they’re just as accountable to him in their obedience as we are.
Mark: Listen, finally I just want to cap this off with the fifth point, and that is keeping workers. What you said earlier, Amy, is key, that we have to affirm them in the things that they’re doing. In other ways, it is that you would be able to help them fit in their sweet spot. What is it that they like to do? Do they like crafts? Do they prefer rec? Do they want to teach the bible? Help them get in a place that they like the most. Those roles where their gifts, their abilities are at. Really recognize their limitations. If they’re crazy about being on the stage and loving that, then let them be on the stage. If they don’t want ever to be on the stage, don’t call them up there. That’s not going to be right you’re going to lose people.
Amy: You mean more than once?
Mark: Maybe at all.
Amy: Just kidding.
Mark: Okay, good. Provide training for them. You may have somebody for the very first time looking at the curriculum, looking at the schedule.
Amy: It’s intimidating.
Mark: Please don’t assume that they know what they’re looking at, that they know what to do, because they can be intimidated and quit. It can just flat scare them to death. Walk them through it. Say things like, “Oh, I know you know how to read and all this, but this helps me remember how this is laid out. Let’s look at it together.” Give suggestions, “Oh, you know what? When it says this, it just reminds me I need to get that in the resource room,” or, “Here’s how I would set it up on this table. Remember, it’s always easier on the tile than the carpet.” Any little tidbits like that, people appreciate that because you’re investing in them. I think one big thing is to say to them, “I will guarantee a sub. If there’s something wrong, here’s my cell number, and you let me know. I’ll take care of you.”
People appreciate that. Usually there’s not quite a demand on subs for one week, that’s the nice thing. Things do come up, though, and so you just take it and you keep moving forward and it’ll all be okay. There are probably some other ideas here that people could add to this, but I want to encourage you today, because while you’re trying to enlist workers for different things in the Summer, and especially for Vacation Bible School, I just wanted to encourage you. Maybe there was something here that you haven’t considered and you’d like to try again. Amy, anything you would like to add to it before we go?
Amy: Yes, these words of wisdom.
Mark: Yes, what are they?
Amy: Just say yes to VBS.
Mark: Say yes to VBS. I like that song. Friends, we hope that you’ve enjoyed this little training time. If this was helpful to you, please go to iTunes and rate our podcast, even leave us a little message there, because it helps keep visible with all other people who are looking for training, would be online or on a podcast. We want you to do well, because your life is a gift in Children’s Ministry. Now go and it count.
Speaker 4: That’s it for this episode of Mr. Mark’s Classroom.
Speaker 3: We invite you to leave your questions or comment on the show notes at mrmarksclassroom.com.
Speaker 4: Until next time, remember: Your ministry to children is a gift with eternal value, so go and make it count.
Speaker 3: So, go and make it count.