How to Lead from a Non-Leadership Volunteer Position

Wayne Stocks —  March 10, 2011

DucksSo many people who work in children’s ministry are not in either staff or volunteer leadership positions.  They are the ones who show up week-in and week-out, work directly with kids, run the tech booth, perform worship, and so so much more.  Oftentimes though, there people are not amongst the core leadership team for the children’s ministry as a whole.  Unfortunately, these people are sometimes forgotten when it comes to planning upcoming events, casting vision and communicating upcoming changes.

If you find yourself in such in a position, this article is for you.  I want to talk about eight very specific things you can do to lead from non-leadership position.

1. Get Involved

Jump in and get involved in the children’s ministry as a whole.  If you are content to just “do your part,” you will never move beyond the part you have been assigned.  Do a little digging.  Find out what’s going on in other parts of the children’s ministry.   Strike up a conversation with a leader or worker in the area just above the ministry you are in and find out what they are seeing from the kids moving up from area.  What would they like to see that they aren’t?

2. Ask Questions

It’s hard sometimes to just start asking questions, but you need to get over that fear.  Talk to your children’s pastor and ask them what is going on in the ministry.  People like to talk about what they are passionate about, and you ask the question to get the conversation started, you may be surprised how much time the “answer” will take.  Talk to other people in the children’s ministry and ask them what their role is.  Get online and talk to other people in children’s ministry and ask them what they’re doing.

3. Make Suggestions

No one knows better what the children’s ministry needs on a week-to-week basis than those who are in trenches each weekend.  Don’t be afraid to make suggestions based on what you see and needs that you know need to be filled.  You see things from a different angle and a difference level than leadership in the ministry.  Give them the benefit of your insight.

4. Educate Yourself

As a volunteer, you already give freely of your time.  I want to encourage you to take a little more time to educate yourself.  Get online and read some of the great children’s ministry blogs to find out what it going on in the world of children’s ministry.  Subscribe to K! Magazine.  Read a book about educating kids.  Study your Bible and read up on systematic theology.  Pick one thing you can do today to educate yourself in an area that will benefit your ministry and do it!

5. Lead by Example

Anyone can be a leader.   Even if your position doesn’t include the title leader, and even if the word lead isn’t in your job description, we lead each any every day through our actions.  Lead your fellow volunteers by working hard.  Lead the parents in your ministry by exhibiting a positive attitude towards their kids.  Lead the kids in your ministry by sharing your own stories about your spiritual journey with them.  You don’t have to pronounce yourself a leader in order to be one, you just have to set a good example.

6. Never Complain

Mostly, this article is things you should do to lead from a non-leadership position, but there is one no-no that needs to be shared.  Don’t complain.  Leaders don’t complain.  They identify problems, but they also suggest solutions.  Never go to someone with a complaint or a problem without having first thought through the problem and developed some potential solutions.

7. Take Some Initiative

There is a concept in the field of Physics known as Newton’s First Law of Motion.  It states that a body at rest tends to stay at rest.  It is also known as inertia, and if you fail to take some initiative in your ministry, your ministry will also remain inert.  Be the spark that causes new and great things to happen in your ministry.  Take the initiative and solve a problem.  Just do something!

8. Network and Get Connected

Networking is not only for those in leadership positions.  Find out if there is any sort of network of children’s ministry volunteers in your area and join.  Truth be told, you are not likely to find one based on my knowledge of what’s out there.  So, start one yourself.  If you’re not comfortable with that though, start networking online.  You got a jump start just being here on  Our goal is to bring volunteers together in community.  Jump over to our facebook page and join the conversation there.  Comment on articles and start the conversation.  Join and engage in the conversation there.  You won’t regret the connections you make, and your ministry will benefit from them.

Wayne Stocks

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Wayne is married to a wonderful woman and has four kids whom God uses to teach him on an almost daily basis. He is blessed to volunteer in a wonderful children's ministry at New Life Church Gahanna. He established Kidmin1124 for those who give their time to kids and feel passionately about children's ministry. When he isn't working on Kidmin1124, he maintains another blog at and contributes articles on a regular basis to