How do you train your volunteers?

On Thursdays, my plan is to provide reviews of the various products that cross my desk that can be an asset to you in your ministry. This week, from various sources, the topic of the need to train volunteers has been highlighted. Because of this, I wanted to ask what you do to train your leadership?

Awana believes that training is important, in fact one of the five principles of Awana is that it is built on strong leadership, which comes from proper training. Maybe Awana should revise the fourth principle which reads, “Children and youth are trained to serve” and add “children, youth and adults”. But I digress…

Awana has developed several Training Materials for the various roles in Awana. They include a lot of helpful information to train you to be a better leader in your role in Awana. Even DVD’s that show you a “Day in the Life” of the various roles. In one of those DVD’s, the T&T director begins to call Commander Bill to give a report of the evening. When that first came out, someone mentioned that I had a cameo in the video and so I had to watch it and see. Now I really do not think that Awana had the T&T director call Commander Bill with me in mind, but it was flattering to hear that someone made that connection. FYI, you do not need to call me each week with a report from your club. Anyway, the DVD’s are a valuable resource.

Did you know that the videos used for Basic Training are now available for free as a download in the A.R.T. area of the Awana website?

If you are a commander, then I highly recommend that you attend Commander College 101. This advanced training will help you understand the many facets of being an Awana Commander and will inspire and encourage you as you serve in your local church. It also provides a great way to network with other commanders. I urge you to contact your local Awana missionary to find details about something special that is available this year for  Commander College 101.

Tony Kummer of wrote an article this past week entitled What Volunteers Learn When You Don’t Train Them. Read this article, and then review all of the quality materials and resources that Awana has to offer to help you train your Awana volunteers.

NOTE: One of your greatest training resources is your Awana Missioanry and their ministry team. I will be highlighting the first Awana missionary this Monday.



Scripture Memory – How important is it to you?

Today is Wednesday and later today, there will be thousands of adults admonishing children to memorize Scripture, but my question to you is, how important is Scripture memory to you? Are you using the “do as I say, not as I do” mindset or are the “I do it and you should to” mindset?

Children, and others, will follow better when they see what we do, more than just what we tell them to do.

Here’s an object lesson for you to illustrate that. Place signs in the large group room that say no frisbee playing in the room (or ball playing) and sign it with your name. As the children walk in, spin a frisbee on your finger, play catch with someone and just have some fun playing with the frisbee or the ball in the classroom. The children will quickly pick up on the fact that you are breaking the rule you made and call you out on it. You are not practicing what you preach, you are saying do as I say, not as I do. If the rule was important enough to post, then it should be important enough to follow. If Scripture memory is important enough to tell children they should do it, then we should be as well.

So, I ask again, how important is Scripture memory to you?

I was completely clueless :-O

Several years ago I began doing something to try to reach some boys in our Awana club, reaching out to let them know that someone cared. I do not know if it impacted those boys, but the subsequent result still amazes me today. I was completely clueless as to the impact it was having on children and their families.

We frequently hear that ministry is about building relationships, but not many will take that outside the walls of the church. We had a couple boys in the church who had a rough home situation and were seen as “bad kids”. In an attempt to reach out to them, I attended a couple of their baseball games. No agenda, just there to watch and show that their lives outside of the church were important as well.

I began to attend sporting events, martial arts belt tests, school plays, graduations of all kinds, recitals, band performances and whatever else the children were doing. I honestly didn’t think anything about it, I was just there showing the kids I cared. Little did I know the great impact of my simple gesture.

I began to hear of children looking forward to “Commander Bill” being at their game, performance, or whatever. I even surprised some parents and kids by going to watch their play, or band performance (I forget which), on a club night! I could tell you countless stories of how children responded to my being at their event and the relationships that it fostered.

I realize that families are busy with children’s activites so visitation can be difficult. By attending their activities, I am meeting them on their schedule. As the child is involved in the activity, it allows me time to be near the parents, where sometimes there is great interaction and othertimes, not as much. Again, because there is no agenda, just being their for the child to support them, extensive verbal interaction is not always necessary.

Honestly, I am still amazed at the impact this small gesture has on families. The hardest part of all of this is getting a schedule for the child’s activity so I can plan to attend. I try to attend at least one activity for each child/youth under my ministry care and I never promise that I will be there. I generally tell the parent that I am planning on being there so if something changes, the activity is cancelled or they will not be there, they can let me know. I don’t want to promise to be there and then something comes up that causes me not to attend. That could be seen as another male adult breaking a promise. I don’t want to “hurt” a child in that way if I can avoid it.

What are you doing to reach the children/youth in your club (ministry) outside the walls of the church, beyond Sunday morning and club night? Are you doing anything? If no, why not? You will be amazed at the impact it will have and you can be completely clueless, just like me 🙂

Recruiting 101

Recruiting is one of the biggest challenges that face Awana clubs and ministry in general. Here are some steps to effective recruiting:

  • Don’t Give the Perception of Desperation – Too often pulpit pleas and our approach sound like we are desperate for volunteers. This leads people to wonder what’s wrong in the ministry that no one wants to serve and people don’t stay.
  • Don’t use guilt – People who serve because they have been “guilted” in to it serve begrudgingly and usually don’t last long. They have no commitment to serving in the ministry.
  • Share what God is doing in your Awana club or ministry – people want to be where God is working. If you have nothing to share, you have bigger problems than recruiting.
  • Create a buzz – Get your leaders and clubbers talking about Awana frequently.
  • Communicate your vision for the ministry – Where do you see God leading the ministry and how can they be a part
  • Pray – “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” – Matthew 9:35-38
  • Invite them personally – Look at people who reach out to children and approach them personally to consider serving in the ministry. We often don’t ask because we fear rejection (remember High School?), but people respond more to direct communication.

So put aside the fear of rejection, trust God and ask people to be a part of what He is doing!


Awana Simulcast – An Unintended Consequence

For several years I have attended Awana conferences and via the forums, at conference and other venues, I have encouraged people from the same church to attend different workshops and then gather to share what they learned in those workshops, spreading the knowledge gained at a conference.

With the simulcast, it was stated that approximately 20,000 people were participating in several locations. With Awana, myself and others using Twitter and Facebook to instantly share key points from the simulcast, and also with myself and others posting their notes on web sites, it allowed countless others the opportunity to be a part of a learning opportunity when they could not attend.

Individually people are sharing what they learned and expereinced with the simulcast with others in their clubs and across the US. We need to take this to the “traditional” conferences still being held,,encouraging people to attend different workshops and then come together to share what they’ve learned. Conference isn’t an individual activity, it is a time to nwetwork and share form our own experiences, and a great way to do that is to share with others what you have learned and sharing web sites like this and Awana’s Club Clinic (and Resource Site) so others can learn, improving their ministries.

Working together and sharing with others we can do GREAT things for the Kingdom.

Your Greatest Awana Resource…

… is your Awana missionary! They are knowledgable of what Awana is doing, as they attend frequent traininigs at HQ, and they understand various club situations.

They are there to support you, but with over 100 clubs, and often close to or more than 200 clubs to care for in their regions, they are not able to visit every club every year. With the help of volunteer ministry team members, they do attempt to make a personal contact with each church/commander several times a year.

The one thing that most people do not know is that Awana missionaries are 100% faith supported. The rely completely on the gifts of people to maintain their income AND their ministry to Awana clubs (including introducing Awana to new churches) in their region. They do not receive a percentage, or commission, on items purchased from the catalog, they rely solely on the gifts of people.

Do you want to know more about your missionary, or about how to support them financially and in prayer?

I encourage you to visit the new pages provided by Awana to help you learn about your missionary (or any missionary) and also how you can support them by sending a gift on-line.

Please support your misionaries. Generally if all churches in their region gave about $25/month (or $300/year), then missionaries would be fully supported. Unfortunatley, many missionaries are underfunded. Won’t you support a missionary today?

Click here to learn about Awana Missionaries and how to support them…

A Stand Alone Ministry?

As summer quickly approaches and plans are made for Vacation Bible Schools and summer camps, I always wonder how churches handle their ministries. Does your Awana club work with, or against, other ministries in the church and even other children’s ministries?

It has always been a goal of mine to integrate the children’s ministries together as much as I could, even before I was the children’s pastor. As an Awana Commander, I worked diligently to connect the Awana ministry to the other children’s ministries in the church as well as other ministries. By supporting one another, we show parents that the church has a unified purpose to help them disciple their children and that the ministries compliment one another.

For instance, our church had a summer camp for children. Through Awana, if a clubber started and completed a handbook during the club year, then they received a small scholarship to help with the cost of the camp. By doing this I was able to encourage children to attend the camp to re-enforce and build upon what they were learning in Awana. This also served as an incentive for some families who may have needed some financial help for camp, and there were even some children who requested that the scholarship they earned by used to help someone else go to camp!!! How great is that, children seeking a goal to help someone else!!! That’s the Body of Christ at work!

We heavily promoted Vacation Bible School and encouraged children to attend Sunday School (okay the Awana Sunday School attendance awards were a help as well).

I also worked with church staff, as able, to accommodate other  ministries in the church.

Unfortunately, what I see to often in churches and ministry is that each ministry within a church (and often ministries in general) are “islands”. Within the church, these “islands” (ministries) wage war, defending their borders and their assets (space in the church, schedule, and budget). Each one seeing their purpose as more important than the other instead of striving to work together for the glory of the Kingdom.

We each have a passion for our ministry and God has called us to different things, but we are all part of the Body. As the church plans the summer activities, strive to work to support the other ministries, work with them to share the Gospel with others.

Just like the community was developed to help Awana leaders work together, share ideas, support one another, etc…. so should the church work together to support and encourage one another.

My challenge to you is to seek out ways that your Awana club can support the other ministries within your church body and also outside your church body, working together with other members (churches/clubs) of the Body of Christ.

Together we can do greater things for God!!

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