Recruiting weekly volunteers does not come naturally. Think about it for a second. When churches get started, they usually only offer one service. Asking a volunteer to serve every week means that they don’t get to attend church. Asking volunteers to serve once or twice a month is a pretty realistic ask. Churches grow and they add more services. Interestingly, many ministry leaders don’t grow their serving commitment. They lead ministries with 2-3 services, yet only ask volunteers to serve once or twice monthly.
Many leaders do make the shift and they begin to transition volunteers to weekly commitment. However, the last ministry to transition to a weekly schedule is almost always preschool. This always seems to be the most challenging shift. When you think of the critical relationships a leader needs to build with kids in elementary and student ministry, it’s natural to feel like it’s less important in preschool. You may not feel that way, but often times your parents and volunteers do.
If you are having doubts about weekly serving in preschool, I want to remove them for you. If you have existing and potential volunteers giving you push back about serving weekly in preschool and you’re struggling to present a good argument for the change, I think this article will help you. We will begin with the obvious, but one of the most important reasons for weekly serving is not widely known.
We Expect Weekly For Ourselves
Think about your own small group as an adult. Do you have a rotation of leaders that come in and out sporadically? If you did, how would you feel? Would you open up about the real things going on in your life? Would you feel safe emotionally or even physically?
No, you would not. It’s a terrible idea for adult group community. It is crazy to think of adults sitting in circles that attempt to foster community, that value authenticity, vulnerability and spiritual growth with a different leader each week. It really is not any different with young children.
We Expect Consistency Everywhere Else
What about school? What if our kids had a different teacher every week? What a horrible idea. No parent would choose that for their kid. What about sports? What if your child had a different coach every other week? Yes, it is less than ideal. Parents would probably look for a different league.
Most parents EXPECT something consistent for their kids. They would say that their kids do better with people that are familiar. It is certainly what they prefer. It only makes sense that a church would provide something consistent for their child’s spiritual education. It is likely parents view church preschool differently. When we adequately cast the vision for what happens in preschool at church, parents and volunteers are more likely to understand why weekly is FAR better.
These are good reasons in their own right, but there is an even more important reason to go weekly that you probably have not even thought about. This reason has little to do with strategy, efficiency or expectations. This reason is intimately connected to the very nature of a child’s humanity.
Weekly Volunteers are Critical to Foundational Development
Within the field of developmental psychology, there is a growing movement of work and study around attachment theory. Attachment theory says that trust is built by meeting needs on a consistent basis.
“The basic premise of attachment theory is centered on the emotional bonds between people and suggests that our earliest attachments can leave a lasting mark on our lives. The central theme of attachment theory is that primary caregivers who are available and responsive to an infant’s needs allow the child to develop a sense of security. The infant knows that the caregiver is dependable, which creates a secure base for the child to then explore the world.” (The Importance of Early Emotional Bonds by Kendra Cherry)
It would be worth your time to brush up on attachment theory and see how early childhood development is playing out in your church preschool. More is happening than we might realize. Weekly small group leaders do far more than streamline volunteer needs. They actually contribute to the emotional and psychological well being of the babies and preschoolers you serve.
Can we explore the significance for a second? Attachment theory connects meeting physical needs to trust. When a child’s needs are met, they develop trust which brings stability and confidence. This confidence leads them to take risks and grow personally. None of the physiological studies describe church preschools, but it is not unreasonable to apply their findings to matters of faith.
When children experience bonds with consistent caregivers at the earliest age in your church preschool they begin to see that these people (your small group leaders) can be trusted. When children experience loving care in your church preschool, they see that this place (your church) can be trusted. When children experience the safety and security of consistency in your church preschool, they see that this message (the gospel) can be trusted. This isn’t a choice they make but it’s a part of their foundational psychological development. We literally have the opportunity to weave a thread of trust for the Lord and his people into the fabric of the lives of the kids God brings our way.
That blows my mind. How exciting is this? Weekly volunteers in preschool are not just preferred, they are critical to faith development!
Tomorrow, we will dive into the HOW. I think you will be surprised by how easy this can be!
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