For years, one of my biggest frustrations was getting volunteers to show up on time. After talking to others, I discovered that I wasn’t alone. Honestly, getting anyone to show up for anything on time is a modern-day challenge. However, when services begin at 9:00 and volunteers are showing up minutes before (or even after), ministry leaders will literally lose their minds. However, I’ve found the solution to this little problem. The Pre-Service Huddle.

Actually, the Pre-Service Huddle wasn’t created just to get your volunteers to show up on time, but timeliness with your volunteers is a welcome side effect.

Culture creation is a huge part of developing a healthy volunteer ministry and one of the best ways to create culture is through regular pre-service huddles.

I know what you’re thinking. “I can’t even get everyone to show up to serve on time, what makes you think they’ll come 20-30 early for a MEETING?” Trust me, you’d be surprised. Below are some components of great pre-service huddles.


There’s a very good chance that inspiration is what got your volunteers to sign up. They heeded a call to serve and they dove in. Unfortunately, inspiration wears off. Busy weekends, sick kids and life, in general, has the tendency to trump inspiration. This is why you should seek to inspire your volunteers on a regular basis. Remind them about why they serve. Show them the difference they’re making. Tell stories of life-change. Brag on them. Cast compelling vision of where you’re headed. It’s Sunday morning, there’s nothing like a mini-pep rally just before opening the doors for the kids to enter.


Who says you can only train your volunteers through 90-minute lunch seminars that less than half of our volunteers show up for? Did you know that you can train your volunteers every week, just 2-4 minutes at a time? Volunteers need regular instruction. How can they better connect with their kids? How can they handle behavior issues? How can they connect to their kids in meaningful ways? These are really simple nuggets of training that you could offer every single week. Wrap it with an email, quick video and 2-3 minute conversation at your huddle and you’ve got a really good chance of seeing volunteers grow in their abilities.


The main auditorium isn’t the only place for people to connect with God. There’s actually a really good chance that what volunteers are going to teach their kids that day could also be fresh and impactful for them as well. What if you connected with your volunteers on a spiritual level around the same idea they’ll teach their kids? There’s a chance that what they teach will come across even more meaningful. Take the time to connect your leaders to God, find unique ways to make your huddle meaningful. Most importantly, create the space to pray and connect with God – to dedicate their service to what God wants to do.


Everyone craves community. They want to be known. However, not everyone is going to go to an adult small group. That’s a scary first step for many. However, you can create great community through your huddle. Take time for people to share stories. Let people talk about themselves. Create opportunities where your volunteers can laugh together or just do something fun. Create an environment where everyone knows each other and begins to pray for each other on a regular basis.

When these things are a part of your weekly pre-service huddle, your volunteers will start showing up. They won’t at first. They’ll trickle in over time. However, if you’re consistent with this, having volunteers skip the huddle will actually become unusual. Crazy, right?

Let me leave you with a couple of final tips:

  • Inspiration, training, spirituality, and community are all components of pre-service huddles. However, it’s unlikely you’ll offer all of those every week. Actually, you really shouldn’t. Maybe offer 3-4 weeks of training on a specific topic. You’ll also incorporate a little community and maybe a story here and there. Then you’ll take a few weeks to focus on fun team-building stuff or some heartfelt devotions. Mix it up, but keep track of when you’re doing what.
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare. If you’re waking up on Sunday morning wondering what you’re going to share at this week’s huddle, you’ve already missed it. Plan your huddles out a month in advance. What do you want to cover this month and bullet point out the talking points? This is especially important if you’re letting your coaches lead the huddles. If you give them talking points 5 minutes before their huddle, you’ll kill whatever you’re trying to build.
  • Keep it short. Less is more. We only get 10-15 minutes to huddle, often time less than 10 if a service went long. You can do a lot in a little bit of time, just be prepared.