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How To Lose Your Volunteers in 25 Days

Christiaan VandenHeuvel

Day 4:
Cram in as much mindless activity as possible.

High-capacity volunteers know that if their room isn't fun, kids won't come. But they also don't want it to be all about empty activities. To shake these volunteers, pack the weekend schedule with random activities, playground time, snack time, travel-to-another-area time, introductions, icebreakers, free play, and burn-off-energy, busy-work options. Never have an activity tie in to the actual Bible lesson. Cram the schedule with activities designed to kill time-not explore the Word of God.

Day 5:
Don't encourage volunteers personally.

There's one rule when it comes to encouragement: Stick with the bare minimum. Hang up a generic sign on your office door once a quarter thanking "all the volunteers" for their work in children's ministry. Rely on a once-per-year appreciation event that only 25 percent of your volunteers attend. Some pesky volunteers will actually serve for months at a time if they just get a pat on the back and a softly-spoken, "Thanks for all you do." Never, under any circumstances, say a personal thank you. And resist all temptation to give a high-five, pat on the back, or fist bump.

Day 6:
Use parents. A lot.
A dirty little secret among children's ministers is that we know how guilty most parents secretly feel when they don't serve in children's ministry. Capitalize on this guilt. Press these parents to sign up right away-and then squeeze them for all they're worth. Tell them that being parents of a 3-year-old automatically makes them experts at teaching 17 of them. They'll only last a few weeks. For best results, don't cast your recruiting net much wider than the pool of parents.

Day 7:
Don't give honest feedback.
All volunteers really want to know is that you're aware they showed up at some point and didn't cause problems. A cursory, "I see you made it" (even if they're 10 minutes late) will suffice. Don't bother with giving people the "truth in love" about how they could grow as kidmin volunteers. They don't really want to know.

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