The Most Radical Strategy for Recruiting Children’s Ministry Workers

hammer smash

Stop begging for workers! Jesus never begged for disciples. Imagine if He had…

Just after the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says,

“Oh, before everybody goes, I want you to know we are still three disciples short of our goal of twelve. So if anyone would like to be a disciple just sign-up with Pete. Stand up, Pete, and wave your hand. He’s the one holding the clipboard under the tree. Thank you.”

What would you think if Jesus had done that?

What do you think the people listening to Jesus would have thought if He had done that?

You probably would have thought that it must not be a big deal to be a disciple if all you have to do is sign-up with Peter.

And that’s the point.

The WAY you recruit workers tells people whether or not it is a big deal to be in children’s ministry.

If you believe it is a vital ministry, then act like it. Recruit like it.

Public begging will kill your children’s ministry. It puts the word out that you are desperate for workers and that there is no honor in working in children’s ministry.

When I first started traveling across America conducting Kidz Blitz Live events I would often serve as a consultant for children’s pastors.

One children’s pastor in a growing church in South Carolina told me she could not get workers to help in children’s church on Sundays.

I listened to her frustration and then offered a crazy strategy that worked for me in Tampa.

I told her that if she did exactly what I said, she would have a waiting list of workers in six weeks. (I was guessing about the six weeks.)

She followed my plan exactly. She called me in less than two weeks and told me she had a waiting list!

This is what I told her:

1. Make this announcement word-for-word in the bulletin and in front of the congregation:

“Some have asked why we no longer accept volunteers in children’s ministry. I appreciate that question. It is because working in children’s ministry is too important for us to accept just anyone. Our kids and our Lord deserve the best…

…From now on working in children’s ministry is BY INVITATION ONLY. Thank you for understanding.”

First of all, that announcement didn’t hurt anything because nobody was volunteering anyway.

And more importantly, you have just changed the landscape by making it an honor to be in children’s ministry.

2. Search out the best people in the church.

Do everything you can to identify quality people (adults and teens) who could fill a roll in children’s ministry.

Encourage workers to help you identify other potential workers.

Don’t be intimidated to go after the best in the church.

3. Invite them to join your team.

Avoid the word “volunteer.” Adults hate that word.

Explain your vision. Tell them you need people like them to make it happen.

Give them a three-month trial period after which they can leave if it doesn’t work for them.

The vast majority will accept your invitation and all will be honored you asked.

Why? Because you made it clear that you only invite the best to work in children’s ministry.

Someone once told me—as if it were a criticism—“You’re just trying to build an elite team.”

“You betcha!” I responded.

By |2019-01-04T13:58:51+00:00August 25th, 2014|Ministry Articles|11 Comments


  1. Cathy September 17, 2014 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    I didn’t get past reading Step 1 where I am instructed to lie by printing “some have asked why we no longer accept volunteers in children’s ministry.” in my church bulletin. No one has asked me this. 🙁

    • donnie September 17, 2014 at 6:46 pm - Reply

      then change the wording to say that recent events have led you to change how you recruit people for children’s ministry and that you will no longer be accepting volunteers as our children are to important to let just anyone work with them. Its only a lie if you actually lie. If you actually make the changes then there is no lie.

  2. Mary Lynn September 18, 2014 at 11:48 am - Reply

    I stopped using the word “volunteer” a long time ago. I always use the title “team member”. It is a joint effort- building each other and working with parents as well. I try to communicate that each week we GET TO worship with the kids. It is an honor and a privilege to lead their hearts in worship and discovery of their God. Having the “test drive” has been useful for us. We have discovered some great talent that should be shared in other age groups or other ministries. There is a place for everyone in the Kingdom work.

  3. Jmarie September 18, 2014 at 10:06 pm - Reply

    In my church anyone who does any sort of ministry is called, ‘Leadership Family’ If you step up it makes you a leader too. It is a privilage to be in any leadership position and not just a pew warmer.

  4. Sunshine October 21, 2014 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    I need ideas and suggestions. Our church lost our Youth Pastor. Anyhow we have Kingdom Workers (volunteers) but they are burnt out! They are being pulled out of Bible Studies and services to teach/take care of the children. We need to get them back into their Bible studies but if we do that we have no-one to teach the kiddos. Needing ideas.

    • Sheila Edeliant August 4, 2015 at 6:54 pm - Reply

      Sunshine, you may have already found a solution for your situation by this time (and chances are you will never even see this reply), but for the sake of others who may be reading this with a similar question….

      I think it has a lot to do with your specific situation: the size of your congregation/program, attitudes and opinions of other church members, whether or not you at least have a leader of some sort, et cetera.

      However, that being said, there are several ideas you might build off of:

      • Keep the children with the parents for some/all of the program. Make an effort to help them understand what is going on. Give them opportunities to participate, as appropriate (anything from answering questions, to handing out supplies, to helping lead song service). You can even provide children’s activity packs (choose from: Bible coloring book and crayons, puzzle, activity sheet, worksheet based on the sermon/message, etc.).

      • Reserve part of the adult program time for the children; then proceed with the adult meeting.

      • Reserve some time at the end of the children’s program for a special adult devotional/discussion. During this time, have some quiet free-play activities set up for the children.

      • Rotate adult helpers. This would work best if there was at least one consistent adult face in each class. The children need consistency. Helpers could come in for a part of the program (to tell the story, lead in singing or a craft, etc.), then return to their class. -OR- Helpers could have a schedule where each takes a month or a week in rotation.

      I have seen each of these ideas work in various congregations. Take your situation before the Lord in prayer and see what would be best for the children and families in your church at this time. May God bless you!

  5. Aaron March 22, 2015 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    Such a great idea! I’ll be posting this to our facebook page, Thanks for sharing.

  6. Sumer April 27, 2015 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!!!! I can’t believe I didn’t think of this!!! I am so excited– I cant wait to tell my Pastor! I know in my heart this will work!!

  7. Sheila Edeliant August 4, 2015 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    Roger, this is a great idea. I think the bulletin announcement is a great idea for making the switch if you have not started out this way.

    I was actually blessed to be mentored by a dear children’s ministries leader who does things this way. She taught me to pray over our helpers before we even knew who they would be, to ask God to lead us to the best person for the job and to turn their heart toward the position. Then she would encourage each lead helper to do the same and the work would branch out from there.

    It makes total sense, especially when you consider Jesus and His ministry on earth!

    Thank you for this. 🙂

  8. Pat Rdz July 2, 2018 at 12:52 am - Reply

    Our children’s church Leader prayed to our all night God for Our children’s church teachers and helpers. She looked for people that were willing to serve then prayed about it. She then waited for the Lord to answer her. She relied in the holly spirit to guide her. Not a bullitin or a sign up sheet. So I urge you to get on your knees and pray if the Lord does not reveal the people to you then seek his face a a church congregation and ask God where are you falling short. Are we preaching the true Gospel one that brings Salvation and a desire to serve our God.

  9. Christina August 29, 2018 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    Thank you all for your ideas, this has been a blessing & encouragment. God bless you all in your ministries. (1 Body in Christ) Cleaning from eachother❤

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