Today, we warmly welcome Misty Akridge. Misty serves as the Kids’ Ministry Director at Compassion Wichita Falls and is the National KidsMin Coach for the Compassion Network. I love Misty’s passion for ministry, and I am always encouraged after spending time with her. One of her many strengths is recruiting volunteers and building a ministry team. That’s why I think you’ll find the following conversation, all about volunteers, helpful!
– Kristi Cain, IPHC Director of Children’s Ministries
Kristi: Recruiting volunteers can be one of the most challenging tasks for a children’s ministry leader. What are some strategies you've learned about growing a team?
Misty: It is a challenge to convince people to spend time with a room full of noisy, messy kids instead of sitting in a nice peaceful church service. So, it is super important always to put the “why” in front of the “ask.” Getting people to be a part of your team only happens as you cast vision. Present an opportunity of impact with the kids and offer the chance to develop eternal purpose in their lives. Then, you ask and keep on asking.
Kristi: How do you prepare and train your team?
Misty: Once a team member has been recruited and passed a background check, we undergo a four-stage process. First, the volunteer watches me (or another leader) demonstrate their future role. During the second stage, they watch us again, but this time we encourage them to ask questions. For the third stage, we reverse roles: The new volunteer does the job (teaching, assisting, checking children in, etc.), and we ask them questions. If that stage goes well, the volunteer is ready for the final step, and we give them the independence to do the job themselves, AND we challenge them to invite someone else to the team. Training and support are crucial because people want to feel equipped to do a job. If they don’t, you will lose them as a volunteer.
Kristi: Not only do we need to recruit volunteers, but we also want to retain the great ones. How do you keep members of your team invested?
Misty: My number one answer is relationship! People want to feel needed and known. At Compassion, we work to develop purpose, build up the individual, and get to know their story. Make friends with your team, and you will have volunteers for the long haul!
Kristi: What's your favorite part of working with a volunteer team?
Misty: My favorite part? That is a tough question because I love it all! I like investing in people, and I enjoy knowing why they do what they do. I adore seeing volunteers walk out God’s purpose and realize they are impacting the church of tomorrow. Above all, I love seeing people fall in love with Jesus and the kids!
Kristi: What has been one of your biggest challenges working with a volunteer team?
Misty: At first, I learned that it’s ok to have high expectations for my team members even though they volunteer their time. Also, because they can decide on a whim they don't want to volunteer anymore, I have to keep putting a clear vision in front of them. That is vital to the success of a ministry team.
Kristi: Please share an encouraging story about a great volunteer experience.
Misty: My current elementary coordinator’s journey is my favorite story. Jesus saved her from a life of drugs and alcohol, and she tells me that the Bible stories and songs she heard as a kid were what she held onto in her darkest moments. Now, she gladly serves in kids’ ministry even after working a 60-70 hour workweek. She knows that even if a kid starts going in the wrong direction, they still may remember what they learned in Compassion Kids. She has faithfully served on my team for the past six years. She started at the check-in counter, but she has worked into the elementary coordinator position, and she is my right hand.
Kristi: Do you have any final ideas or tips to share?
Misty: Fall in love with Jesus, first and foremost. Remember how you felt when He called you. When you walk in your purpose, others will follow!