Getting Ready for the Fall:Volunteer Training

Want more volunteers? Need volunteers to stay active? There are two, low maintenance ways to guarantee your “yes” answer will be fulfilled. They both are simple and take little time, but prove extremely effective to achieving volunteers that are active and stay active.

The first is training. Having a training workshop will give volunteers confidence, encourage the fearful to volunteer, and strengthen every program. I have one day in August, before the start of our program year and do all the training that day. I do a check-in training update in January. The Fall training workshop is done on a Saturday, so everyone can come. I have lots of food and drink. The first group has bagels and fruit waiting for them. Lunch is delivered for two groups to enjoy. Afternoon snack of cookies and tea are waiting for the last group.

I group the workshops by ministry, dividing the Christian Formation Sunday Morning into age groups (3 years – Kindergarten, then Elementary, Youth.) I, also, do a Children’s Chapel training, Event Leader workshop, and Ministry Leader training. All involved, even returning volunteers, are encouraged to attend. All scheduling and assignments are done in this workshop by those involved. Rooms and supplies are set up. This is an important day and will make the program year run smoothly.

Covered in each workshop group is:
general information about expectations of time, space, and where to find things they might need,
money and budget issues,
developmental expections of the age they are working with, including spiritual and faith,
Curriculum, including a demonstration,
Issues or problems they might encounter
Specifics of their ministry
The groups, then, begin work on schedules, class space, and forming teams. I am in the general area for this part, but only for questions.

If you would like to get a specific copy of a ministry or development expectations by a certain age, there is a small fee. Send an email to [email protected] and I will let you know what is available and the cost.

The second thing I do for volunteers is use every holiday as a time to express thank you. I give every volunteer a small printed thank you with a small gift, which usually is a piece of candy. At Christmas, I give an ornament and at the end of the program year, a nice thank you gift. As the year progresses, I will share what I do for volunteers by coming holiday.

Do not forget Safe Church Training! This is vital for all ministries.

Trained volunteers are happy volunteers!

Getting Ready for the Fall: Kindergarten Parent & Child Breakfast

One of the most momentous occasions in a young family’s life is the starting of kindergarten for their child. This marks the moment that the child is moving away from a life centered on family to one of school and friends. As a mother, I joined many mother’s whose eyes were filled with tears after the first day drop off. There is no going back to a baby. Kindergarten signifies a permanent shift in the family.

It is important for the church to acknowledge this momentous step. Honoring and acknowledging this step moves the church out of the Sunday morning “box” and into a family’s life and home.

Besides the Blessings of Backpacks, which are done for all children, the Sunday before school starts, we have a Kindergarten Parent & Child Breakfast, usually before the main family service. The invitations to the breakfast are sent out a month ahead of time, so busy families can make plans. The room of the breakfast is set up as welcoming as possible and all are encouraged to wear nametags. The breakfast is a buffet to keep it casual and to be welcoming to any late-comers. Also, we tend to have those who did not RSVP come, so always allow for more food.

At the appointed time of the breakfast, I welcome everyone and say a prayer. They, then, get the food they would like. Once all are settled at a table eating, I talk about the importance of this day. I hand out a growth chart containing what is expected in the next year including Faith, Interpersonal, Values, Family and Needs of the Age. I talk about the importance of church and a faith life is to the growing child and their family. I, also, give hints of what to do when roadblocks, such as boredom or not wanting to come, hit. I then give out a Parent Booklet “Getting School Ready!” (Click on the Link to be taken to the site to get a free PDF.). I have on hand a book: Lessons Learned: The Kindergarten Survival Guide for Parents by Jeannie Podest, who is a teacher and parent. One option is to order enough copies for each parent to take home. Lastly, I give each child a book: Kindergarten, Here I Come by DJ Steinberg. Another really good one is On the First Day of Kindergarten by Trish Rabe. (Click on the books to go to Amazon to see and get the books). I remind parents and children that I am there for them. In each book given, I have a label that says “A Gift from St. Paul’s Children’s Ministry.”

Parents are very grateful for the breakfast and the attention. It reminds them that the church cares about them and what is happening in their lives. It, also, serves as an evangelism tool, as the parents will tell other parents at their school what a great thing their church did for them.

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