When I was hired to be the children’s minister it was mainly to find people to “work in the nursery during worship.” Soon I heard the music from Jaws in my head as I swam through the congregation looking for a replacement for someone who didn’t show-up. I saw the panic in the people eyes as they adverted their gaze, thinking if I don’t make eye contact she won’t ask me. Is it any wonder I hated recruiting?
Before you judge me too harshly, remember twenty-five years ago there was not a Mr Mark’s Classroom. Learn from my mistakes.
- I approached my friends as though they were doing me a favor. People serve in the church out of love for God to serve His kingdom, not to please you.
- I made emotional appeals trying to guilt and shame everyone much like celebrities did for orphans. Dedicated people are motivated out of joy and a sense of purpose.
- A month before Sunday School promotion I called every person in the church directory listing every position available on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night thinking that everyone could serve at least as a substitute. Instead of finding workers to serve, I found myself taking casseroles to families with illness, and babysit their elderly parents. I never knew people had so many problems. Don’t call without vetting the person first.
- I threatened the church by staging an interruption, handing the pastor and music minister each a preschooler. “Soon I may be bringing you a child to hold during worship.” It wasn’t a great way to welcome visitors or make parents feel good about joining our church.
When I shifted my focus off of what made me look good, to loving people unconditionally, I became a true minister.
- I stopped judging myself by how many volunteers showed up on time. I reminded myself that God loved me regardless of how “successful” I appeared. I quit trying to manipulate things I could not control.
- I started seeing myself as match maker, rather than a position filler. All year long I watched for adults that seemed to love children and God. I noticed people who were not as faithful in attendance as they once were and seemed to be adrift. I tried to find their passion, referring them to other ministry areas, not just children or preschool.
- I stressed the role they had in the children’s spiritual development. As I trained them in how to teach. I explained the importance of each task and paired them with an experienced teacher.
- I learned to love the volunteers as individuals, caring more about them than the position they filled. When teachers know that you love them more than you care about your job, other people will want to be part of your ministry.
Helping people fulfill their calling became one of the most satisfying aspects of my “job.”
This article was written by By Jayna Coppedge. Read her blog, A Woman Trusting God at www.jaynac.com. Invite her to speak at your next leadership event, women’s retreat, or parenting conference. Her book “Parenting with the End in Mind: Practical Guidance with Biblical Principles,” is a great gift for a new parent.