4 Things Your Preschool Volunteers Need From You

 “Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”  Ephesians 4:12

If you’re going to build an effective preschool, you have to know how to build a great team of preschool volunteers. The effectiveness of your preschool ministry depends on the strength of the team you build. You can be great with preschoolers, but if you can’t build and lead a volunteer team, your preschool ministry will never reach its full potential.
Your responsibility is to equip the leaders who in turn minister to the children. Your ministry to your volunteers is just as important as your direct ministry to the children. Does that mean you can’t have any classroom time with the preschoolers? Absolutely not. But if you’re the primary person doing the classroom ministry on weekends, then you’re greatly limiting the ministry and you will quickly hit a lid. Show me a great preschool ministry and I will show you a great team of empowered volunteers who are doing the work of the ministry.
As you equip and lead your team, here are four things they need.
1. Connection
People want to serve in community. They want to be known and build relationships with the people they serve alongside. Joining your team should be like becoming part of a family. Encourage your team to connect outside of the time they serve. Start a Face book page for your team. Provide fun activities for your team to get together. No training allowed at these. Just hang out and enjoy being together. When people are connected, their faith grows together. When people are connected, they stick around. When people are connected, they look forward to serving because they get to be with friends.
2. Care
Life is messy…it’s full of ups and downs. And when you do life with a team, you get to experience it all together. The people on your team are going to experience hurts, heartaches, tragedies, loss, and turmoil. When that happens…they need to be cared for. They need a shoulder to lean on…a hug…a prayer. There may be times they need meals brought by or even financial support.  They will need your care.
But remember, you can’t do it all. One person can only effective care for four to five people. It’s important to create a culture where your team cares and supports each other. We have raised up volunteer coaches. They call volunteers each week and check on them, support them through prayer, and encourage them.
Another great way to care for your volunteers is to have a pre-service prayer huddle. Get your team together before the children arrive each week and spend time sharing prayer requests and praying for each other.
3. Celebration
Your volunteers need to feel valued. Celebrate them! Let them know how much they mean to you. Celebrate not just WHAT they do but WHO they are! Each week in staff meeting we take time to write a personal hand written note to a volunteer. We let them know what they mean to us and what we appreciate about them. Twice a year we have a party for our volunteers. At Christmas, we have a big party in their honor. At the end of our ministry year in May we have another big party to celebrate them.
4. Challenge
Your volunteers want to grow in their faith and ministry gfits. You are a pastor to not only the preschool children, but also the adults who are serving with you. You are called to help them grow! Make sure they are attending adult worship. Encourage them to be in a Bible study. Have quality leadership training that will propel their faith and gifts to new levels. Challenge them to step up in leadership responsibilities as you see them developing.
Your goal shouldn’t be to “plug” them into a spot where you have a need. Your goal should be to help them grow in their faith. When you help them discover their gifts, equip them to do ministry with their gifts, and challenge them to continually grow, you will be fulfilling Ephesians 4:12.
Once a quarter we send out an email survey to our team. We use www.surveymonkey.com. We ask key questions to see how we are doing in these four areas. Do they feel connected? Are they being cared for? Are they being challenged? Are they being celebrated? We also ask for input and ideas on how we can serve them better in these four areas. We are doing well in some areas and in other areas we have work to do. It’s all part of the journey of helping our team grow in their faith and gifts.