stop recruiting start retaining

Last month at Group’s KidMin Conference, I shared a ministry challenge and a ministry joy at the opening General Session.  This is what I said:

“I’ve been chosen by God to not recruit volunteers to ‘fill holes’ (which is a pet peeve phrase of mine).  I’ve been chosen by God to recruit volunteers to a vision, shepherd them, train them, equip them to serve, connect them with other volunteers and place them in their volunteer sweet spot so that they serve with us for the long haul.”

Recruiting volunteers ranks near the top of the list of challenges for ministry leaders.  It really doesn’t matter whether your church is large or small; no church is immune.  You rarely hear someone say, “I don’t need anymore volunteers.”

Yesterday I attended a local networking event here in Baltimore for kidmin leaders.  The topic: Stop Recruiting, Start Retaining.  The speaker was Christine Kreisher, who serves as the Family and Connections Pastor at Glad Tidings Church in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Here are the notes, 4 things to give volunteers so that they stay around for the long haul:


“People don’t need another job; they need, and crave, purpose and meaning.” – CK

Leaders:  Create a FUN and meaningful experience where volunteers feel that what they do matters.

Volunteers will say:  “I love this!” or “I’m making a difference.”

Best Practices:

  • Connect the vision
  • Find the fit
  • Improve the process
  • Fill their bucket


“It’s the lack of communication and preparation that kills volunteerism.” – Dr. Darren Kizer

“People matter to God, so they matter to us.” – Nelson Searcy

Leaders:  Ensure that every volunteer has the necessary information, resources, & encouragement to fulfill their role in ministry.

Volunteers will say:  “I have what I need.” or “I feel valued.”

Best Practices:

  • Communicate early and often
  • Huddle up
  • Train for success
  • Organize volunteer teams


“God created us with a hunger for relationship – for relationship with Him and with our fellow people.  At our very core, we are relational beings…The soul cannot prosper without being connected to others..” – Henry Cloud

Leaders:  Establish a culture where volunteers feel connected and new friendships can be developed.

Volunteers will say:  “I belong here.” or “I’ve got friends here.”

Best Practices:

  • Friendship-friendly programming
  • Make it fun
  • Plan connections
  • Get it on the calendar
  • Embrace the mess!


“The local church should be one of the greatest leadership development agencies on the planet because Jesus was a great leader and developer of leaders.  The church does not have a leadership problem…there are plenty of leaders…the church has a leadership development problem.” – Mac Lake

Leaders:  Invest your time and resources to empower people to develop as a leader.

Volunteers will say:  “I’m trusted and have opportunities to develop into a better leader.”

Best Practices:

  • Replace yourself
  • Set them free
  • Delegate vs dump
  • Make it helpful

Keep the conversation going!  What strategies have you seen that work in retaining volunteers?  Let me know by leaving a comment below!

Properly Aligned

October 10, 2014 — 2 Comments
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One particular street in my neighborhood is extremely bumpy because of an abundant amount of potholes.  So many potholes in fact that a few years ago, my minivan’s alignment was out of whack.  You know – you let go of the steering wheel and the car drifts to the left or the right instead of going straight.

Ministry and life in general can be very bumpy and if those bumps aren’t addressed within a reasonable amount of time, we can be pulled in the wrong direction.  So how do we balance/align it all?

First, realize that life will seem out of balance/alignment at times.  Please feel free from feeling like you must have the ‘perfect’ life.  What is the ‘perfect’ life anyway?

Second, recognize when your life isn’t properly aligned.  I recognize this in my own life when

…I am easily irritated.

…I want to isolate myself from others.

…I complain a lot.  Too much of this, not enough of this, blah, blah blah.

…there is tension in my home & relationships because of the things listed above.

Third, ask God to help you.  James 1:5 (NLT) says, “If you need wisdom – if you want to know what God wants you to do – ask him, and he will gladly tell you.  He will not resent your asking.”  I keep a list of go-to scriptures that help me refocus (I posted a list here).

Fourth, take proactive steps to remedy the situation.  Here are some ways that I try to stay properly aligned:

  • As a wife…I try listening more than talking (after almost 19 years, I’m still working really hard on this one!).  I make time for time alone with my husband – we try to have regular date days and at least one weekend away each year.  I try to show him that he’s still my favorite guy on the planet – small gifts, a wink or smile from across the room, or watching sporting event with him (without asking too many questions!)  God blessed with a wonderful husband and friend & I want him to know it.
  • As a mom…I try to spend one-on-one time with both of my children regularly and hear what’s happening in their world – I really love that.  I give them my undivided attention when they are talking to me – I stop what I’m doing, look at them and listen really well.  I make time for fun with them – going to movies, out to eat, playing games, watching a TV show, cooking a meal – I just love being with them.  They are very busy these days (my son is a freshman in college and my daughter is a sophomore in high school) but that won’t stop me.  I have been blessed with two wonderful children and I am so thankful for them.
  • As a ministry leader…I thank God for my ministry and for allowing me to be part of His work.  My ‘career’ is really my calling, so I go to work (most days) with a smile and good attitude.  Why? Because I realize that it’s not all about me. Again, that is freeing.  I am blessed to do ministry with other capable leaders who share the ministry load.  Together, with God leading us, we serve children, families and volunteers each and every week.  Staying properly aligned also requires that I manage my time well, communicate clearly, delegate properly, mentor those under my leadership, spend time with other ministry leaders and take my days off – a properly-aligned leader leads better.
  • As a woman…I make time for me outside of the areas listed above.  Honestly, this is the area that suffers the most when my life isn’t properly aligned, so I have to be the most intentional in this area.  Sometimes I don’t spend enough time in God’s Word and prayer.  Sometimes, too much time passes before I see treasured friends.  Sometimes I don’t sleep well or eat well and sometimes my household responsibilities aren’t accomplished.  I don’t do things that fill ME up or bring ME pleasure.  What that means is that I have to make a plan and put these things on the calendar and do them regularly instead of thinking about them after the fact.  I reach out to friends to have coffee or a meal together to catch up.  I say ‘no’ to things to say ‘yes’ to taking care of me.  I choose a really pretty nail polish when I get my nails done.  I relish times to just do nothing other than catch up on a TV show or read a magazine or pin to Pinterest.  I splurge on something new for myself.  Kathie is a much better person when Kathie makes Kathie a priority.

Life gets bumpy but that means we have to hold on so that we stay on the right path…gives all new meaning to “Jesus take the wheel”, doesn’t it?!

What about you?  How do you stay properly aligned?

I am really bad at keeping a secret!  Really!  When I receive good news, I want to share it with EVERYONE!  For the past several months, I have had two big secrets that I wanted to desperately share with all of you but couldn’t until now.  Let me fill you in:


Earlier this year, I was asked to be part of Kidology‘s new e-book resource for Children’s Ministry leaders and volunteers.  Bright Ideas for Children’s Ministry – Volume 1 is a collection of highly practical “bright ideas” that you can immediately implement in your ministry.  Who doesn’t love practical, easily implemented ideas from fellow Children’s Ministry leaders?!  You’ll find ideas for object lessons, games, crafts, leadership, technology, missions and so much more – it’ll become a trusted go-to resource.

Bright Ideas for Children’s Ministry – Volume 1 is regularly priced at $16.99.  If you are a Kidology Premium Member, the regular price is $14.99.  But I have more good news – my friends at Kidology have allowed me to offer a special deal for my blog readers.  Simply click here to order and enter promo code “SAVE5KP” when you check out – you’ll save $5!  Check it out and let me know what you think!



I am also excited to share that I will be Children’s Ministry Magazine’s newest columnist, beginning with the January/February 2015 issue!  In each issue, I will share ideas specifically for younger elementary children (ages 6-9).  This is new territory for me but I am excited to venture into this project.  The folks at Group (who publishes the magazine) have been so kind to me – I’m really looking forward to working with them. :)

Whew–I feel so much better now that the secrets are out of the bag!  God is doing some pretty amazing things in my life and I’m sure you have some awesome things going on with you too!

Keep the conversation going!  Tell me what’s going new in your neck of the woods.  What are you working on?