I was giving a tour of our children’s area to a local children’s pastor recently, and he asked me a question. A question I’ve been asked hundreds of times by children’s leaders. He asked, “How often do you do trainings for your volunteers?”

My answer in the past has always been, “Quarterly. I have a lunch and training with my volunteers every three months.”

Unfortunately, only about 40% of my team shows up and I never feel like it accomplished what I was hoping it would.

I usually take 40 minutes to talk to my team about the new policies or reminders of things we have to remind them about, and then I spend another 10 minutes talking about the vision.

Overall, this system of quarterly training doesn’t feel successful.

This doesn’t mean the training sessions and getting volunteers together for lunch is a bad idea. I think the reason it feels like a failure is because I end up talking for 50 minutes and the team goes home with no real takeaways. The vision still is unclear, and they don’t feel like better volunteers as a result of the training session.

It is a  fail because I act as a teacher rather than a coach. A teacher stands in front and talks, and coach walks besides and helps them grow.

A few weeks ago I attended the Orange Conference. One of my breakout sessions was with Gina McClain, Kid’s Pastor at Faith Promise Church in Knoxville, TN. She spoke about how we can coach the best out of our volunteers.

She explained that they don’t do quarterly training sessions because they trainings typically end up being someone standing up and talking for an hour about the new policies and procedures. These are very important things to talk about with your volunteers, but if you coach your team, it will help them grow, not just inform them.

She explained what that means.

Coaches Train to Execute a Vision.
Teachers talk about the vision.

Along with feeling completely convicted about how terrible I’m doing coaching my teams, she gave some practical steps to help train to execute the vision.

  1. Cue the Vision – Make sure you draw a picture of what “best” looks like. Make a list of key behaviors that makes a great volunteer and share with your volunteers. All these behaviors are always directed back to how we add value to the lives of kids you serve.
  2. Examine Your Systems – Your systems will produce your outcomes. You probably don’t have a vision issue; you have a systems issue. I’m sure you have an amazing vision for your team and kid’s ministry, but if you don’t have a good system – it will fail 100% of the time.
  3. Accountability – Raise the bar and hold them accountable. You should care enough for your people to evaluate them. Where there is accountability, there is improvement. Make sure you are consistently looking for ways to be better and help your people grow.

Instead of a quarterly meeting, think about weekly huddles before each service. You can pump the teams up, talk about upcoming events, and coach them without spending money and time for a quarterly training sessions. You can utilize the time you have to direct and coach your teams to execute the vision of your ministry.