It is easy for volunteers to complain about the people leading them and vice versa. Lost in all of that though is the fact that, whether it is provided or not, there are certain things which you, as a volunteer, have a responsibility to seek out. If your church and children’s ministry leadership is providing those things to you, that’s great! If they are not, that doesn’t take you off the hook. The following list is the things which you, as a volunteer, should seek out and make sure you have in your life in order to grow in your ministry to God’s kids.
1. Feedback: No matter what your role is in children’s ministry, you should find people to give you feedback. If you are a large group teacher, invite the small group leaders and other volunteers in the room to give you feedback each week on your teaching. If you are a small group leader, ask a student helper who sits at your table what you did well and what could be improved. If you do worship for kids, ask the other adults in the room about the song choice and whether or not kids were engaged. If you write your curriculum, ask your teachers how easy it is to teach. What could be done better? Self-evaluation is great, but it will only take you so far. Feedback from others is an opportunity for your to continue to grow both in your giftings and your ministry.
2. Accountability: Take what you do seriously. No matter where you are on the totem pole, or how active or inactive your immediate supervisor is, seek out someone to hold you accountable for your work in ministry. Give someone permission to tell you that you are not investing enough time or that you are making your ministry your idol. God created us to live in relationships and accountability has a lot to do with that. Find someone who will speak openly and honestly with you.
3. Opportunities for Growth: Whether they are conferences, or podcasts, or blogs, search out means for growth in your field. If you are a teacher, seek out books and articles on teaching methods and how kids learn. If you work as a small group leader, find a podcast on relating to kids. If you are a greeter in kids church, find a resource on what kids react well and not-so-well too. If you write your own curriculum, read other people’s curriculum. Whatever you are doing, figure out what would make you better, and do it!
4. Relationships: Kids will view you as an authority figure. That’s how they see adults, and that’s now all bad. But, you will need to be intentional about seeking them out for relationships. Find a couple or few kids in the class (God will lead you to the right ones) and start to forge deeper relationships with them. Find out what is going on in their lives. Ask about their families and houses and pets and holidays. Tell them about your life. Go to their sporting events. Work hard at building relationships with some of the kids in your class.
5. Vision: If you do not know the vision for your children’s ministry, seek it out. Find out what your’ Children’s Pastor and Lead Pastor think children’s ministry is all about. Our job as volunteers in that ministry is to support and further that vision. If it has never been communicated to you, go out of your way to find out what it is. I find that best way to figure that out is….ask!
6. An Understanding of Theology: Teaching kids is an awesome responsibility. Far from being easier than teaching kids, it oftentimes requires a much deeper understanding of theology in order to reduce those concepts to a level kids can understand. Try explaining the Trinity to a six year old some day and you will find out what I mean. If if your curriculum is pre-prepared, you should understand the theological intricacies of whatever you teaching to kids. At some point, you will be called to account for everything you taught them. Seek out a deeper theological understanding of Christ, the Bible and whatever else you are teaching.
7. A Deeper Relationship With Christ: This should be number one in the list, but I decided to save the best for last. As a volunteer, you must seek out a deeper relationship with Christ. We minister out of our overflow which means we can only really teach kids about Christ when we have an active and living relationship with him as well. Spend time in God’s Word. Spend time praying and growing in your relationship with Christ. Focus on his Gospel and how it applies to your life.