Book Review: Volunteers That Stick

Book Review: Volunteers That Stick

In the world of children’s ministry the most common and most frequently asked questions will always address one of the following three questions:

  1. Where do I find Volunteers?
  2. How do I recruit Volunteers?
  3. How do I train and equip Volunteers?

These questions show up at every conference, in every meeting, during every volunteer Sunday and are forever at the forefront of the mind of the Children’s Pastor at your church. Because the reality is we don’t know where to find quality volunteers, we are clueless about how to recruit people who want to serve and then once we find them we don’t know what to train them in or how to equip them to make them want to stay. It’s the prayer request of every Children’s Ministry Leader across the country “God please bring me willing hearts today who desire to serve you and your children”

Jim Wideman, the Children’s Pastor and Director of Christian Education at Church on the Move in Tulsa Oklahoma, has written a compelling and informative book called “Volunteers That Stick”. It walks you through a step by step process of how to find, train, equip and encourage volunteers so that they make a difference in the lives of the children you serve. Throughout his book Wideman discusses the value of the culture you create, what the “right” volunteers look like, how to recruit like Jesus did and at the conclusion of his text includes resources and templates to help you get started. Each and every chapter unlocks a new insight, encouragement and resource that will not only equip you to lead your volunteer team well but to encourage you in the moments when finding or growing that team can feel difficult. Below I have highlighted each chapter and mentioned some helpful insights but I encourage you to find yourself a copy of the book and as you read through consider what you and your team are excelling in and where you have room to grow.

  • Chapter 1: Creating a Volunteers Welcome Culture
    • “If you want to create a place where your volunteers look forward to hanging out, make sure they’re welcomed each time they walk through the door.”
    • “Doing ministry with kids can be fun” – remind and show your volunteers that fun is actually a part of their job description!
  • Chapter 2: What Do You Believe About Volunteers
    • When it comes to your volunteer team these three truths must be remembered:
      • God has promised to meet all your needs
      • Every Christian is called to do ministry
      • Every Christian has at least one gift to share
  • Chapter 3: Volunteer Careers
    • “Career volunteers” – people who have a heart for serving others and a desire to use and grow in their skills – are worth their weight in gold.
  • Chapter 4: Right People, Right Places, Right Time, Right Reasons
    • “Do you have a profile of what a right person would look like? If not, how will you know one when you see one? In Children’s Ministry the wrong people are people who aren’t fully committed to our ministry’s vision and mission.”
  • Chapter 5: Recruiting Like Jesus Recruited
    • Our church expects church members to volunteer in a ministry. We expect it, and our church leaders talk about it and model it. We don’t apologize for that expectation because it doesn’t come from us – it comes from the Lord. He expects people to use what he’s given them in ministry. He expects stewardship not just of money but time and abilities as well.”
    • Wideman provides 15 recruitment principles and practices that Jesus used during his time on earth that we can adopt for our own success in ministry
  • Chapter 6: Job Descriptions
    • “A Job description can go a long way toward eliminating frustration for church volunteers. Job descriptions are essential, but you can’t believe how many churches try to get by without them. Some churches think that because they’re small they don’t need to go through the trouble of defining jobs. They’re wrong.”
  • Chapter 7: Interviewing and Placement
    • “Interviews give you the chance to dig a little deeper and develop a deeper understanding about what brought a volunteer to you – and what will help make that volunteer stick.”
  • Chapter 8: Orientation, Training and Evaluation
    • Wideman reviews all the topics and information you need to cover during an orientation as well as the resources you want to provide your new volunteers with at this time as well
    • This includes:
      • Your Vision and Mission Statement
      • Safety Policies
      • Communication
      • Performance Expectations etc.
  • Chapter 9: The Secret of Volunteers Who Stick
    • If you read Chapters 1-8 you know exactly how to ensure that the volunteers who currently serve on your team as well as those who are considering joining your team remain in children’s ministry.
  • Photocopiable Resources
    • Sample job description template
    • Sample Volunteer Application
    • How to Interview Church Volunteers
    • Volunteer Staff Handbook

Whether you find yourself with a team of 300, 30 or 3 volunteers this book “Volunteers That Stick” will be an incredibly engaging and helpful resource as you lead and serve in children’s ministry.

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