Like almost every church, we sometimes struggle with having enough volunteers. This is partially due to our culture. Jacksonville, NC is home to the Marine Corps base, Camp Lejeune. I love this city and the unique culture it offers. There are also some challenges. Every 3 years or so, the Marine Corps will most likely move a family to another city. This is great for the Marine Corps but hurts your volunteer structure. Every year our volunteer system will go through a complete turn over.
Like most churches we have asked the question, should we require parents to serve? After all, it makes sense. God called you to kids ministry when you had kids, so welcome to the team. In theory, this would solve our volunteer shortage issue (for a short time). But is this the most healthy decision? Should we make it a requirement?
For us, the answer is no. Here are a few reasons why we do not make volunteering in our family ministry a requirement for parents.
ROBS THE JOY: Once you make something a requirement it robs the joy of the sacrifice. Forcing someone to volunteer robs the joy, excitement and fun factor of being a volunteer. As leaders, it’s important to remember that our goal is not to fill every volunteer slot. Rather it’S to cultivate a team of committed believers who desire to serve.
PITY vs PASSION: In my experience, rarely do volunteers who feel bad/pity for the ministry turn into long term volunteers. They stand in to fill a gap for a short time, but then they pursue what their true passion is. I would rather start with those who are passionate about kids/student ministry.
SOME PARENTS NEED A BREAK: Many of our moms have been taking care of 3 kids while daddy is deployed. Sometimes,the worst thing for that mom is to serve in a preschool room. Sometimes, parents need a break. We still encourage them to serve in some capacity, but volunteering in family ministry is not always right for everyone at that time. I am okay with that.
Instead of making volunteering a requirement for parents, we look for passionate Godly leaders (teenagers and adults) who love the next generation. We encourage parents to serve where their kids play, not mandate it. In the end, not all parents will make the best volunteers in one specific area. If you give them the freedom to serve where God leads, I think you will see an increase in volunteer retention.
I would love to hear your thoughts. What is your churches policy on parents serving?