Hi Friends!

My sweet hubby Kenny invited me to chat with you about a subject I love dearly – volunteer recruiting.
My, oh my. Children’s ministry is a hungry beast when it comes to volunteer recruiting huh? Ever feel like you’re nonstop asking for volunteers? I’ve been there.

Today, we’ll specifically chat about Volunteer Expos.

Recently at Gateway Community Church I was hired as a contract employee to plan a volunteer expo. Our goal was 150 total new volunteers for three ministries in the church. Guess how many people signed up? 350! Can you believe it?! We had more sign up than we hoped for! Wow!

This was not my first Expo. I’ll share with you a few things I’ve learned.
Here are my tips to a successful volunteer expo:

Sometimes in children’s ministry we become little islands. THIS IS NOT HEALTHY PEOPLE! We are the body of Christ. Your arm would do you no good if it was not attached to your body.
Don’t willy-nilly plan an expo. Talk to your pastor or the creative team who plans sermons. Plan your expo around a sermon or series of sermons about volunteering and serving. Let the pastor pump vision into people through his words from the stage.
Incorporate the expo message into the sermon for the day. Plan a fun skit to share your ministry’s heart. Design a slide to use in the announcements. Film a creative video. Make people laugh. Tug at their heartstrings. Photos of wide-eyed kids are great for this.


I like expos that feel like parties. I’ve been to my share of dull navy-blue-colored-pipe-and-drape business expos. YAWN! That’s no fun!

Give your Expo a theme. Use bold colors! Design fun graphics! Play music. Blow up balloons. Give away food and candy.

Details, details, details! Don’t forget to incorporate details that represent you, your ministry, your church or your community.

We’re proud of our live music in Austin, Texas. You bet we invited live bands to play in the courtyard by our expo booths. The energy the music added was immediate and it reflected our culture as a church and as a city.

What are your strengths? Put together an Expo planning team with members who are strong in your weaknesses. Here are a few roles I like to have on every event team I put together:
• The project planner. This is my favorite role. This is the person who can give legs to dreams. They can map out goals and milestones and deadlines with the same ease it takes most people to eat or breathe. They can communicate and check in with people to make sure the event will happen on time.
• The decorator. We all know someone like this. Their house looks like a magazine. They are cute and polished. Invite this person on your team. Let them own making the theme come to life in booth décor.
• The administrator. This person likes details. Let them handle the printing of sign up cards, the data entry of people who sign up, etc.
• The party planner. This person can throw a party! They bring fun to every situation. Let them own the giveaways and food and music. Let them work with the decorator to make the Expo full of life.
• The communicator. Let this person own the marketing pieces for the Expo. (As a personal note let me plead with you all: PLEASE! NO CLIP ART OR RIDICULOUS FONTS! If you do not personally know how to make your printed materials look like a million bucks, invite a graphic designer to join your team! )

We experimented with our recent Expo at Gateway. We tried our best to post our message at every turn and get people talking. How’d we do this?
• Days before the expo we started sharing volunteer stories on our church website blogs.
• The night before our first expo weekend, we invited our Facebook Gateway Church group to the expo.
• We printed cheap posters announcing our Expo at www.sircooper.com and hung them in every bathroom stall on the church campus.
• We printed cheap stickers in house with our Expo theme “I’m In”. The weekends of the Expo, every volunteer on campus was given a sticker to wear. Every person who signed up at the booths was also given a sticker to wear. If the “I Voted” stickers create momentum on Election Day, I was sure stickers could work for us.
• We ran our expo for two weekends, since our attendees are not regular every week.
• We printed our sign up cards and stuffed one in every program. Families don’t have time to visit the Expo booths? Not a problem. They could sign up and drop their cards in the offering bucket.
• We positioned our Expo booths in the courtyard, the heart of our campus. All traffic on campus flows through this area. The booths were impossible to miss.

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