What Makes Student Volunteers Stick

Kids ministry
How do you make your kids' ministry volunteers feel important? (Lightstock)

My daughter is allergic to mornings.

Given the opportunity, she would easily sleep until 10 a.m. every day. But school requires that she rise a little earlier. So we push through the pain and crawl out of bed each school day.

But there is one day a week I wake her up and I’m not greeted with moans, groans and general crankiness.


My daughter loves Sunday.

As a middle school student, her primary worship service is on Wednesday night. We don’t have formal programming for students on Sundays. All middle school and high school students are encouraged to worship in the main worship service and find a place to plug in and serve. We believe that students have a lot to contribute to what God is doing at our church on Sunday mornings. And we’ve got some phenomenal students serving in fpKIDS. My daughter is one of them.

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When Sunday morning rolls around, she cannot wait to get to church. It’s not because she gets to see her friends or because of the donuts (though that’s always a bonus). It’s simply because she gets to work with a team of volunteers that love her.

Looking at all of the student volunteers we have on our kids' ministry team, some are more consistent, more engaged and higher contributors than others. Why?

I don’t know that I have the exact formula. But I do see some consistencies among our highest contributing students:

1. Parents Serve

Their parents are also plugged in and serving somewhere in the church. The majority of our students aren’t of driving age. They are dependent on another adult to get them to and from church. Those students that are most consistent in serving are always the ones whose parents serve too.

2. Loved and Encouraged

Our strongest student volunteers seem to have a team of adult volunteers around them that love them simply for who they are. Let’s face it: Middle school students can be quirky. When an adult volunteer can embrace that student (quirkiness and all), they gain a level of devotion from that student that pays off in dividends. Just like anyone, students need to know they are valuable. Doesn’t it make sense that they will consistently return to a place where they know they are valued?

3. Challenged to Do More

It’s great when you watch a student rise to a challenge. I love it when an adult volunteer encourages and equips a student to take on a meaningful task—anything from leading kids in worship to leading an activity to leading their own group of kids in small group time.

We are all hardwired to put our hands to something meaningful. Students are no different. They don’t want to be the gap-fillers. And though they may appear hesitant, with lots of encouragement and guidance, they will rise to the challenge you put before them.

I want to see more students serving in kids’ ministry—and not simply because they are available or because they are "low-hanging fruit," but because they have so much to contribute to what God is doing.

And I don’t want to miss out. My challenge today is to figure out how to leverage these three contributing factors to build up our student volunteers.

What consistencies do you see in your best student volunteers?

Gina McClain is a speaker, writer and children’s ministry director at Faith Promise Church in Knoxville, Tenn.

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