If there is one cry you hear in just about every church in every corner of the continent, it is “We need more volunteers!” I remember several years ago when sitting in a meeting, a colleague of mine commented that he just couldn’t understand why more people didn’t volunteer in a church. I was fresh on the team at the time so I still had a bit of an outsider perspective. I just sat there shaking my head; we were a church of 2500ish people with nearly 1000ish volunteers. My new co-workers clearly needed to visit some other churches.
That was then, this is now. Over the past 10 years, I would estimate I have had 600 different volunteers on my team and I still want more. I’m like a greedy little volunteer Gollum. (“Mine! Mine! They are all mine!”) In our middle school ministry, which I oversee, we have even hit that magical (miraculous?) ratio of 1 leader for every 5 students – at least on paper. The reality looks a little different. Normally when we look at the student to leader ratios we look at the average number of students attending compared to the total number of leaders on our team. The ratio would look a little different if we compared the average number of students to the average number of leaders at any given event. Or worse! The total number of students who have attended to the total number of leaders.
All this is to say, that no matter which ministry we are talking about at Southland, we could all use more volunteers. But we don’t just want bodies. Gone are the days when I used to recruit any breathing mammal to help me. (“You have a service dog? That’s TWO leaders for the price of one!”) Nope, we want awesome volunteers. The current teams we have in the ministries I oversee are filled with awesome volunteers and I would hate to bring the average awesomeness down by taking in the wrong volunteers.
So who is the right volunteer?
I’m going to give you a hint: If I’m writing a blog called “The Privilege of Serving our Children” on a website for parents, I’m probably sending a message. [Smiley face]
Parents, it would seem, are sometimes an elusive breed of volunteers. Currently, we have a whole raft of parents serving in our Wednesday evening kids program, Deeper, but when I look at the other areas I oversee; weekend ministries and our midweek middle school program, I would love to see more parents volunteering. I’ve been reflecting on this quite a bit this week. Typically when we recruit parent volunteers we do several things; we outline the need, we talk about ratios and Plan to Protect, sprinkled with a light dusting of “parental duty” rhetoric. And while it’s true that parents have a responsibility to support the ministries their children are a part of (particularly in the nursery and pre-school areas), we need to stop talking about duty and start talking about the profound privilege of serving our children!
Psalm 127 tells us that children are a reward. An undeserved reward at that; a gift from God.
Oh, I understand the intensity of having kids. I remember being the overwhelmed new dad. (I remember it because I’m still often the overwhelmed new dad when new foster children join our family!) And yes we do need a break from even the people we love the most, but we also need to serve them.
“But I’m his mom, clearly I’m not going to be his cell leader.”
No of course not, mom’s won’t lead a boys middle school group. However, I remember at my first church when a dad approached me to start serving in our jr. high ministry. He was one of the church board members and a businessman with thousands of employees. He wanted to serve in the youth ministry to have a shared experience with his daughter. That’s all. He wanted to lead a group of boys, but also have something significant to talk to his daughter about at home. Brilliant!
Two years ago, I lead a middle school cell group of grade 5 boys with my son, Malachi. He was only two years older than the boys we were leading, but what a great time we had!
And then there is Mr. Alan Holmes. While he isn’t a dad of a child in our children’s ministries, he is a dad (and old enough to be a grandpa!) He was Malachi’s Deeper leader when Malachi was in grades 2-4. Mr. Holmes is one of our dearest friends. He has blessed us immeasurably. I could weep when I think about how he still loves and prays for my son. Now did he have the energy of a high school student? Nope! Did he have the cool factor? Not really. (Although I think he looks remarkably like a hobbit, which is pretty cool.) But he was wise. Wise in a way that only age can provide and parents, so are you (old and wise), and that is what our ministries need when we ask you to consider volunteering.
When you volunteer several things will happen:
- You will support the church and find your specific role in the body of Christ.
- You will communicate to your children the value of serving in the local church.
- You will communicate to your children that they have value because you will give your time to their ministry.
- You will build common memories with your kids.
Literally, no one loses when parents volunteer to be leaders in their child’s ministry area!
Sometimes I hear parents say that we ask too much of them. In middle school ministry, for example, our leaders stay an extra hour after the kids leave for leadership cells, once a month we ask them to attend a leader’s night and there is the cost of time spent connecting with kids, etc. Parents are busy, and you know what? I totally get it! Families are very busy and they are even busy with great things in many cases.
I brought that up at my middle school core team meeting this week and told the team that if we want more parents to serve in middle school we may just have to tell them that they don’t have to be at every monthly leadership meeting. And then I almost laughed out loud. My leadership team is made up of 10 individuals, 6 of whom are married with children. These are parents who not only lead in Middle School Ministry, they lead at the highest volunteer level giving extra time to the ministry instead of their families. What a price they have paid for the privilege of serving the children of our church!
Why not follow their example? I would invite you to consider the great rewards of serving your children as well!
Parents, I invite you to consider the great rewards of serving your children as well! If you don’t know where to start? Comment below and I’ll get you connected. And if you DO serve, comment below and let our readers know the value of what you are doing.
If you don’t know where to start comment below and I’ll get you connected. And if you DO serve, comment below and let our reader’s know the value of what you are doing!
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