Recently, our family visited a megachurch during our trip to Tennessee for the Children’s Pastor’s Conference. Even though I’m not a super huge fan of mega churches, I do love checking out how they run logistics and how they keep guests from feeling lost. They also inevitably have delicious coffee. And I’m a big fan of coffee.
This Sunday, we decided to hit the 9:00AM Sunday service (one of the six services they offer). Turns out, this is the most popular service and even at 8:58, people were streaming through the doors from every direction. We were greeted at the door and immediately walked into the children’s section where were informed that the security system was malfunctioning and down for the day. The back-up system was less than stellar. Basically, I wrote my child’s name and then signed the paper when I picked them up.
So, anyone who signs this paper can take my kid out of class?
There was no checking of ID, no matching sticker tag, no number taking in case of an emergency. Frankly, I feel safer checking my kids into the play center at the grocery store than I did at this church. I tried to check out what system they normally use (I’m a big fan of KidCheck), but I couldn’t figure it out from the computers.
After the kids were tucked into their classroom, we headed to the service where we were informed that we could not bring anyone under the age of 5 into the sanctuary. I understand trying to create a quiet environment and all that, but we were suddenly left without options since we didn’t really feel comfortable leaving our five month old in the nursery.
Thankfully, we discovered a family room where families with young children could watch the service through a large pane of glass. And I have to say, I was a big fan of that. It was a great way to feel like you were still a part of the service while keeping your noise to yourself.
Once the service began, there was a video recruiting volunteers to join the ranks. While the video was designed to be a little satirical and funny, I found the line about “we’ll take any warm body that can pass a background check in the Children’s Department” a little disturbing both as a parent and as a Children’s Ministry director. What happened to recruiting people to a vision?
Ready to Serve?
The whole service was framed around service and encouragement members to “do their part”, which just reminded me that it doesn’t really matter what size your church is — you will always be feeling the volunteer strain in some degree. The more people that attend your church, the more services you will need to offer. And it seemed in this case, even though lots of people are attending the services, not a lot of people are signing up to serve.
I love that the Pastor actually took the communication card out mid-sermon and asked the congregation to fill it out along with him. Then, he went line by line, filling out his card while encouraging others to do the same. From my unique vantage point in the family room (we were slightly elevated), I could see just how many people were following along… and there were quite a few people shrugging off the task.
All this to say, that no matter what your church size, you’re going to have the same basic issues — you’re at the mercy of technology working well and you’re always going to need people to volunteer to keep things running smoothly. If you’re looking for some suggestions on recruiting and retaining volunteers, may I suggest a few of my favorite books?
Volunteer Books I Love:
- Children’s Ministry Volunteers That Stick
- Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church (only $2.99 on Kindle right now)
- Fish: A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results
What About You?
What size church are you in? Do you face the same problems? I’d love to hear about it!