Your lack of volunteers this weekeend is a huge opportunity to leverage unexpected people in your church to serve.

We’ve all been there. You’re enjoying the last night you have with your family before the fast-paced Sunday rhythm begins when you get a text:

“Sorry, my son’s been throwing up all night, so I won’t be there in the morning.”

Not a huge deal. You can fill in for that room. Then 5 minutes later, you get another:

“Forgot that our family has a friend in town this weekend. Won’t be there tomorrow.”

Well, that’s not ideal, but you can still…

“Out of town. Forgot to tell you. Sorry. Will be there next week.”

You may have done everything right to follow up and appreciate your volunteers, but now kids and families are coming tomorrow expecting the same high-level experience they always have. More importantly, these kids have a chance to see something in Jesus they haven’t before. You know it. You can’t miss this opportunity.

But what do you do? You could be sitting at home or at church now staring at a roster with blank spots not knowing who to turn to or who to ask. It seems like there are no answers.

While no one may come to mind immediately, there are many people who could still step in to help.

With all of these suggestions, make sure that you NEVER give someone leadership who doesn’t have a current background check on file or hasn’t been properly trained. Even if it’s an abbreviated training, anyone leading in your rooms must be equipped to know the mission of your kids’ ministry and the rules you have in place to keep kids safe. Closing a room is always a better option than neglecting safety.

7 People Who Can Step in to Serve

  1. Someone who hasn’t served in a while
    Even if they mentioned they needed to step away for a time, there’s no harm in being very clear to ask them to fill in one time. Who knows? God could use their time serving to re-engage their heart and get them involved again!
  2. Family
    Hopefully, your parents, spouse, or grown kids are ready to jump in when needed. I would encourage you to “play this card” with caution. Your family should be supportive but should not be taken advantage of. Lean into them sparingly, if they’re not already playing a key role in your ministry.
  3. People who are on your radar to recruit
    If they haven’t gone through training yet, you need to stick with them through the service. But if you can do that, bringing them into the fold through being “in the game” could get them engaged and excited more quickly than the typical recruitment road. Shoot them a text saying, “Would you be willing to jump into the elementary room with me today to see what it’s all about?”
  4. People you haven’t seen at church lately
    Re-engagement is always tricky, but even if you haven’t gotten in touch with them in a while, this might be the invitation they need to get back with you. Don’t count someone out. If someone’s coming to your mind, reach out to them. See how God uses it.
  5. Friends who aren’t plugged into a church yet
    It might seem crazy but some people need a place to serve in order to be involved. Take a risk, and see if someone you trust would come fill in. You may be recruiting a new volunteer and a new member of your church at the same time!
  6. A friend who attends elsewhere
    As long as they’re not serving somewhere else (that would just be shifting the problem rather than solving it!), you may be able to get a friend nearby to check things out at your ministry! Using this as an opportunity to grow their heart to serve at their church would go a long way to support the “capital C” Church.
  7. You
    This should be your absolute last line of resort, but if needed, you know that you are more than capable of leading a room. I’ve found in times that I had to help fill in rooms short on volunteers that it was incredibly rewarding to get to experience what my volunteers did first-hand. Leverage the time you have to be more in touch with the joys and stresses and difficulties your volunteers are dealing with on a daily basis. Encourage the small things that you see other leaders do well.

There’s a chance you breezed through all those ideas and still feel like there’s no one who can fill in for you. Here’s what you need to do: Breathe. Stop. Pray. Ask God to bring a name or face to mind. The truth is that God cares more about the kids coming into your church this weekend than you or I ever could. He’s provided everything you need in order to put on a great service. It might just take an innovative thought to get there, and He’s more than able to give you that.

You’ve got this. And with God’s help, you can survive for this weekend and then reassess and build through the next week and month to make sure your volunteers and kids’ ministry thrive in the future.

Andrew Brown

Author Andrew Brown

Drawing from a background as a Youth Pastor and a Camp Director, Andrew loves using what he's seen and experienced in ministry to inspire pastors to think differently. He works on the Marketing Team at David C Cook and lives in Colorado Springs with his beautiful wife and daughter. Andrew runs on black coffee, making up jingles for everything, and having his eyes opened a little bit more to what God sees.

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