Linda Martin is the Kidmin1124 Volunteer Champion of the Week

Wayne Stocks —  March 4, 2011

Volunteer ChampionWelcome to the Kidmin1124.com Volunteer Champion of the Week. There are thousands and thousands of volunteers who turn out each weekend and selflessly serve children in churches around the globe. They do not do what they do for recognition or accolades, but at Kidmin1124 we would like to shine a light on some of these volunteers as a way to say “Thank You!” So, each week we recognize one volunteer from the world of kidmin who goes above and beyond in their service to God’s kids. Our hope is that this segment will provide some well deserved recognition to individual volunteers. More importantly though, we have asked these Volunteer Champions to share some of their insights and experiences with us so that we can all learn from their wisdom.

This week’s recipients, based on a nomination from our very own Tonya Langdon, is (drum roll please):

Linda Martin

Linda_49Here is some background information on Linda:

1. What is your full name?

Linda Kaye Martin

2. Where do you live (city, state, country)?

San Diego, CA, USA

3. What church do you attend and serve at (please feel free to include the web address of your church)?

The Rock Church, San Diego

4. How long have you been involved in children’s ministry?

I have been serving in children’s ministry since 2005.

5. What position(s) do you volunteer at in your children’s ministry?

I serve as the (volunteer) leader of the Special Needs Ministry.

6. Tell us about your family (spouse, kids, etc.)

I am a newlywed Smile.  I was married on March 7, 2010 to Zap Martin.

7. Any links you would like to share (blog, twitter, facebook, cmconnect, etc.)

A Special Needs Ministry non-profit organization was formed called the Agapetos Foundation to assist other churches in building special needs ministries, as well as to train teacher and equip churches in Central & South America. The website for the Agapetos Foundation is www.agapetosfoundation.com

We also asked Linda to share some thoughts and wisdom on some selected questions. Here is what she had to say:

1. What do you know today that you wish you knew when you first started working in children’s ministry?

I think as the leader of a ministry, it was an important lesson for me to learn that our classroom would grow and change through the years and to be patient in getting it ‘right’. Our classroom (meaning everything from the physical layout, the structure of our teaching, how we work with the children, and how we encourage and train our volunteers) ‘looks’ much differently now than it did when we first began the special needs ministry. It functioned fine at the beginning, but as we have made changes over the years, it has become better suited to the students’ and volunteers’ needs.

2. How have the needs of children changed today compared to when you started?

Within special needs ministry, being continuously aware of a child’s individual learning styles and preferences is a must. Not only do learning needs change over time, but they are also very different from student to student within special needs ministry, depending upon their specific disability. As we get new and different children, we constantly reassess how we can best teach that child about Jesus. I think this is another aspect of what makes our classroom so fun and engaging. We are always on our toes to find new ways to teach and love our children.

3. What have you learned about leadership as a volunteer?

I have learned SO many things. I have learned it’s really difficult to express the extent of the appreciation I feel for all that our volunteers do on a weekly basis to make our special needs classroom happen. I have learned to accept the fact that not everyone will feel as passionately as I do about this ministry, but to love and appreciate the level of dedication they are able to put forth at any given time. God will change their heart… I cannot. I have learned that there is an extreme need around the country for more churches to support families that have children with special needs. Probably most importantly, I have learned to trust God even more!

4. Can you think of a situation or a child that had a real impact on your own spiritual development?

I think my richest spiritual development has come as a result of seeing God’s faithfulness and provision in this ministry every Sunday. There have been weeks where I wasn’t sure how many volunteers would show up on a Sunday morning – yet God ALWAYS provides just the right amount of volunteers to care for the children that come. There were Sundays that I’d have to be gone and just “let go and let God” take care of the details that I couldn’t control. He ALWAYS made a way. How can my faith be weak when God has always been strong? How can I doubt when He has ALWAYS provided? I have been privileged to witness God work in miraculous ways in this ministry!

5. As a volunteer yourself, what advice would you give to a new or young children’s pastor who needs help learning to recruit or retain volunteers?

While this is a weekly prayer and an on-going process for us, too… I always try to do the following:

1) Find ways for the volunteers to use their gifts and talents within the ministry. If God has blessed them with musical talent, let them help with worship. If God has given them the gift of teaching, let them lead a Bible lesson. This will bless them Spiritually and help them realize they are an important, contributing member of the team.

2) Continue to challenge the volunteers to push themselves. If someone is nervous about teaching but seems to have leadership qualities and a passion for seeing the children grow, encourage them to try it out once. Chances are they will see their nervousness was the devil trying to stop them from growing.

3) Bring the volunteers into the larger vision. We are not just ‘babysitting’ on Sunday mornings. Try to help volunteers see what they do each week impacts others outside of the church. They are an inspiration to other churches and volunteers across the world (literally) to include children with special needs in the church!

4) Allow volunteers to take on leadership roles. Empowering volunteers to step up creates a deeper investment for them within the ministry and will help longevity of service. But, to do this successfully, the leader has to be willing to give up some control!

6. What is the most impactful book you have ever read in relation to your work in children’s ministry?

I love Andy Stanley’s book called “Visioneering: God’s Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Personal Vision”. God spoke to me in profound ways through that book. I highly recommend it!!

To Children’s Pastors and Others who would like to nominate a volunteer for Kidmin1124 Volunteer Champion of the Week:

We need your help! We are looking for additional nominations for future Kidmin1124.com Volunteer Champion of Week recipients to keep this segment going. If you have a volunteer, or know of a volunteer, who really goes above and beyond, please e-mail their name, e-mail address and brief explanation of why you are nominating them (a sentence or so) to wayne@kidmin1124.com. We need your help to make this series a success.

Prior Recipients of the Award:

Prior recipients of the Kidmin1124 Volunteer Champion the Week Award include:

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 WayneStocks.com and contributes articles on a regular basis to Ministry-to-Children.com.

2 responses to Linda Martin is the Kidmin1124 Volunteer Champion of the Week

  1. This is a GREAT post – and I need to know Linda!

    What Linda shared about trusting God to provide volunteers (and sometimes at the last minute) is a story I repeatedly hear from Special Needs Ministry leaders. (#4 above). I have heard many CP’s/lay leaders, etc say that the way volunteers showed up and came through was their evidence of God’s presence and faithfulness.

    I also like what Linda shared about bringing volunteers into the vision of the ministry. I need to do some writing on “Leadership and Special Needs”….guess who I am going to be calling?

    Thanks for this great post!

    Amy Fenton Lee

  2. Linda, May the Lord continue to bless you in this critical ministry. May He give you guidance and raise up an army of volunteers to serve alongside of you.