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Dear Mr Mark,

Our Preschool Director recently asked me to take on the assignment of Sunday School Director for the Pre-School Department of our church.  Our immediate goals are encouragement and training for the teachers, better connection with parents and enlistment of teachers & volunteers.  We have already seen some success with the first two.  We need help with enlistment.  All of our classes could use at least one more teacher and our extended session is constantly short on volunteers. While the church is growing, volunteers are not.  Is there any church in Oklahoma that has had success in recruiting teachers and volunteers?  If so, how did they do it? 

Thank you,

Needs Workers in Watonga


Dear Watonga-

You lead an army of volunteers in Children’s Ministry.  Here are a few things to remember:

Pray– Surely you knew I was going to say that.  It’s true though, I pray a lot.  I also remind myself, this is God’s church and He fits the body together perfectly.  No need for worry.  It’s an ongoing process and takes time.  As soon as all the positions are filled, someone will need to quit or we will grow and need another class (that is a good thing in case you forgot).

Finding a balance between the emergency, the urgent and the ideal– Emergency is Saturday night and no teacher for tomorrow morning.  Who is on the bench that I can call to sub?  I put together a list of people (by going to all the adult classes) who are willing to serve on the bench.  My starters are in the game but I need people on the bench to join the game in progress sometimes.  Don’t call them every week.  Spread the love.  Some prefer babies, other prefer elementary and there are adults who are parents or grandparents and they aren’t scared of anyone and can work anywhere.  Create an extra stash of curriculum or email the ETC pages from the music CD so they have some ideas to use in the classroom.  No one likes childcare and let’s not waste valuable teaching opportunities with kids.   Don’t send volunteers in the game empty-handed.

Enlistment is a slow cooker not a drive thru window–  It would be great if we could just order a teacher and drive away with an expert but it often requires asking, praying, asking again, “Come and Watch”, helper role and later maybe a regular volunteer that you can begin training and encouraging. I can almost hear you saying, “How am I supposed to be that patient when Sunday keeps coming around each week?”  Let remind you again, God is working everywhere and He may bring you a teacher that someone else trained and developed and now you get the harvest or He may be working with someone to take steps of faith in this role and they are trying to trust God.  While you are asking others, waiting on the Lord, watching the calendar move forward; build in a detour.  I have driven passed our city’s construction on I-40 for four years.  When they said it would take four years, I thought that was forever.  Don’t they know we need that road now?  Four years later and it recently opened.  It is great!  The detours and traffic jams were awful but now worth it.  Here’s what I practice and suggest to you, find a volunteer that can work a month.  That’s all.  After the month, thank them and let them go.  Keep your promises and don’t beg.  I have begged and that is never flattering.  You can set up a couple of months ahead and give yourself a little breathing room.  This is not ideal for the children but it is the reality for now.

Take “No”  for an answer– The Bible says, “Let your yes be yes and your no, no.”  I might not want to hear people tell me “no” but I would rather they be honest with me than quit a few weeks later or just not show up some Sunday (which has really happened to me).  I guess I’m trying to say, be gracious and accepting when told “no” just like you are when you hear “YES” and the angels sing in Heaven.

Maybe some of my practices will help you think through a strategy and move you out of the wilderness of frustration.  Start in the prayer closet then begin drawing up plans for a detour path that moves you a little forward so you can think more clearly.  Building this road takes time but the new highway will be such a reward.

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