Today I recorded a video for a church in Georgia because it’s fishing season. In the next few weeks, all across the United States, Awana leaders will be scrambling to recruit volunteers. ..they’re fishing. That’s why I smiled into a camera today to encourage Peavine Baptist Church people to sign up to volunteer for their dynamic and exciting Awana program. I hope a few people heard how important it is to be there for kids.
But it made me wonder, if I were a kidmin pastor or an Awana leader, where would I go to find volunteers? I think I would fish for volunteers in the most stocked pool.
Which is? Well let me ask you this way…
Question: Do you know how many grandparents there in the USA? 70 million. That’s 1/3 of the population! And 30 million are Christian. This is a huge pool of volunteers to draw on. They are underused, underchallenged, underemployed and with a simple ask they can be yours because they need you as much as you need them.
But maybe you’re thinking. . . well, OK, but older people can be. . . crabby, difficult, demanding. Yes they can. And so will you when you are wrinkled like a prune and bent like a pretzel. But along the way, you may find a few gems of older volunteers who are just waiting to be asked and ready to give it their all.
If you’re looking for volunteers may I suggest you make two bold asks of older people.
THE FIRST ASK IS THIS: “Will you commit to praying for the children in our ministry?”
When my husband, Steve, and I took our first youth pastorate an experienced youth pastor advised us to ask the older people in our church to pray for our youth ministry. It was the best advice we were given, because they not only prayed for us, they supported us in every possible way and became our champions. Their love and support was the foundation for everything good that happened during those years
THE SECOND ASK IS: “We’re looking for the best people to work with our children. I think you would be wonderful. Would you think about becoming a volunteer?”
Understand that some things just go together. . . like peanut butter and jelly or peaches and cream. When you are looking for volunteers to work in kids ministry, don’t underestimate the natural affinity children and aging people have for each other. Kids are not put off with see-through skin and wrinkles . . . in fact, they are often perversely attracted to such sights. And older adults adore spending time with children again. Kids and older people just go together . . . like a match made in heaven.
Here’s how that works: An urban club had been having difficulty recruiting volunteers to work with their older kids. Most of them were from the community and had rough backgrounds. They were children of immigrants whose parents were working two jobs, including Muslim families, so there wasn’t a lot of parental cooperation.
The teens were loud and rough housed a lot. The leaders struggled to establish authority and respect. Volunteer turnover was high.
An older gentleman, named Joseph, volunteered. He was the retired president of a Bible college in India. His spoke English with an accent and not someone you would typically think of as a natural with inner city kids. He was dignified and soft spoken. But he said, “I know God asked me to serve in this role, and I will respond in obedience to him.
The kids called him Joseph Uncle and were incredibly respectful of him. No one wanted to disappoint Joseph Uncle.
Problem solved. Those same kids grew up to become leaders in their church’s Awana program.
Are you in fishing season? Do you need more volunteers to work with you children? Then here’s an idea: Look for the Joseph Uncles and the Grandmas and Grandpas.
Because…some things just naturally go together.