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Instant Training

Bob D'Ambrosio

Quick tips to equip -- all you have to do is add volunteers!

Instant messaging. Instant potatoes. Instant replays.

Since we live in an instant-everything culture, we're always on the lookout for ways to save time. After all, if I can have my car oil changed in 10 minutes, why can't I equip my volunteers with ease and speed?

Volunteer training takes more than a quick fix, but there are several quick things you can do to energize your children's ministry volunteers. Check out these timesaving ideas to equip your volunteers for the long run.

Email Energy-Almost everyone has access to email. So rather than holding another meeting, pass on training tips by email. Build an address list so with one click of the button you can send a note of encouragement, teacher-training information, or program updates. Your volunteers can click Reply to All to exchange comments with the entire email list.

Tape-Talk-Instead of doing all your equipping face to face, consider voice to ear. Record a monthly cassette or CD on a training topic so your volunteers can train as they go. That commute to work each morning or walk after dinner could double as training time. And you don't have to invest in lengthy research for your script. Simply share about a current article on child development and then tell your response to it.

Online Training-With the click of a button, you can send out a virtual "class" and have your volunteers train at home. Many colleges and training centers offer low-cost distance-learning courses that would be beneficial for people who minister to children (www.lifematters.com/online_classes.asp). Some insurance companies offer classes on risk management and child safety-most of which are free to policyholders (www.guideonecenter.com). You can also deliver the world's best video training in seconds to your ministry volunteers with  Good to Go Training. Volunteers can train in the comfort of their homes.

You've Got Mail-While email is the norm today, it just doesn't have the same impact as good old-fashioned snail mail. Send out "teacher tips" from your curriculum guides and other educational sources with a handwritten sticky note of encouragement. Sprinkle a little confetti in the envelope before sealing for a festive delivery. Everyone loves to get a surprise in the mail.

Holy Huddle-In football, the team huddles before each play. Before your ministry action, gather your team together for prayer, announcements, and a Bible verse for ministry focus. The synergy of the team gives each person incredible inspiration -- enough to handle a room full of toddlers.

Just Ask-You don't have to plan an entire training event to make people think. When Christine Yount Jones, executive editor of this magazine, was in college, one of her campus ministers, Carolyn Teague, was quite adept at asking just the right question at the right time to get students thinking. It was a very subtle and quick training tool.

Pin Me-On any given Sunday at St. John's Lutheran Church in Ellisville, Missouri, Michelle Thompson, director of Next Generation Ministries, can be found "pinning" her children's ministry volunteers. She randomly hands out a smiley face button as she says, "Here's a smile for you for all the things you do to make our kids smile!" Thompson says it equips volunteers with motivation and confidence to start their day knowing they make a difference in the lives of children.

Mentor Magic-When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, he showed them how -- by praying. Match a new recruit with an experienced volunteer to build a mentor relationship. Some of your staff may have the wisdom and discernment that comes only from experience. Make sure their knowledge and experience is passed on to the rookies.

Prescription: Subscription-Want a training tool that'll last all year? Have ideas and resources home-delivered to each volunteer with a Children's Ministry Magazine subscription! You can get discounts for multiple subscriptions. Subscribe now.

Helping volunteers succeed in ministry demonstrates caring leadership. Equipping volunteers doesn't have to drain your time and energy. Sometimes the quick and simple ideas are the ones that last a lifetime. 

Bob D'Ambrosio is a consultant for Group's Church Volunteer Central

(www.churchvolunteercentral.com).

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