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?

Tuesday Tip: Training – It’s Importance and Mistakes I’ve Made

Serving on the ministry team of Awana Missionaries and running, I am involved in several trainings, from Regional Basic Trainings, to individual church trainings, to conferences, to being a consultant to churches and individuals. So you would think that I’ve got it down and run the perfect club, right? Well, I wish that was the case, but it isn’t and that allows me to help illlustrate why training is so important.

As I’ve noted, our club has had quick growth which required us to gather additional volunteers to serve. I held training for the original base group, but as we’ve added a few others, it was “on the job” training and because I was focused on logistics and getting things moving, I did not have the proper time to train them well, and I do not have anyone in place to train them properly. One of the logistical things I need to work out.

So why is it so important to train people properly? In this case, it is recordkeeping and here are a couple of reasons why:

1) The child’s name. Sounds simple enough, but leaders are used to just putting the clubber’s first name on the forms we use. Well, as we exploded with clubbers, we now have two or more children with the same first name and so to just put the child’s first name makes keeping proper records difficult. I am currently training someone to handle the admin stuff and enter the data into the recordkeeping software we use and except for knowing where they are in their handbooks, there would otherwise be no way of knowing which clubber completed what for the night (except checking their handbooks which adds time to inputting data).

2) Recording acheivement. One of the new volunteers was briefly trained on what is required for a child to complete a section, but not how to record it so we would know what was completed. As we enetered records this past week, we noticed that some clubbers had apparantly skipped some sections only to find out (upon checking their handbooks) that the “new” leader had signed the books but had not recorded them on the forms we use for recordkeeping.

These are small training issues and I will be able to correct them quickly and easily, but left unchecked, can cause long term problems and confusion/frustration within the club causing it to be less effective for the Kingdom.

So provide proper training which will allow the club to run smoother and help retain volunteers.

The Awana Missionary and Ministry Teams

I am working on organizing the blog more and having focused topics for certain days of the week. This week, I will begin introducing the new organization and what I plan on being the focus of each day and today is the first one.

On Mondays, I will highlight Awana missionaries and their ministry teams. Many do not know what an Awana missionary does and so for an introduction, take a look at the role of the U.S. Awana Missionary. I plan to not only focus on Awana missionaries in the U.S. (and their ministry teams), but to also highlight Awana International . There are many great things being done worldwide and God is using hundreds of people serving as Awana missionaries to do it. My prayer is that with the Monday Missionary Spotlight, more people will learn how God is using several to spread His Word through Awana and how you can be a part of it. The first thing, that many do not know, is that Awana missionaries are 100% faith supported. They need tor aise their own support for the ministry and their daily living expenses. Without the support of people joining them in ministry, they would not be able to serve as they do.

So if you know a missionary that you would like to see an article about here (or questions/information to ask) feel free to comment or send me an e-mail with their name and contact info.

If you are not sure who the missionary is for your area, Awana provides the tools needed to find your Awana Missionary and also so you can support your Awana Missionary. The Awana missionary and their ministry team is one of the best resources Awana provides that is often under-utilized.

Rock Solid Volunteers

Purchase Rock Solid Volunteers Today Rock-Solid Volunteers: Keep Your Ministry Team Engaged

Larry Fowler, author of Rock-Solid KIDS, has written a companion book on volunteers and how to keep your ministry team engaged. Over the summer, Larry solicited answers to questions from FaceBook users to compliment his research. Based upon Nehemiah, I am sure you will find this book a great resource to help you with your volunteer ministry team.

From Amazon:

Larry Fowler, Director of Program and Training for Awana Clubs International, believes that there are seven biblical principles, drawn from the book of Nehemiah, that will help pastors and leaders more effectively motivate and manage volunteers. Rock-Solid Volunteers looks at the obstacles Nehemiah and his volunteer workers faced – fatigue, weakness, loss of vision, peer pressure and opposition, just for starters!—and examines the seven steps Nehemiah took to lead his volunteers to success. Pastors and ministry leaders will be equipped to attract, inspire and keep talented, committed volunteers, no matter the challenge!

Available form Awana soon!

Our club quadrupled!! Now What?

Seriously, my club did quadruple in size this year! Now there is a unique reason why. We currently do not have a facility. We meet in a movie theater on Sunday mornings and for the last few years at a local YMCA Sunday evenings for Awana, Youth and adult Bible Study.

The Y never really met our need, but we made it work with children having handbook and large group time in a hallway. As the Y expanded their operation, the space we had to use grew even smaller and so we sought out another facility for our Sunday evening activities.

What resulted was a partnership among the children’s ministries of two churches. We are blessed to be able to meet in another church’s facility and their children are invited to be a part of our Awana club. Because we have had several families relocate due to the economy and other factors, I was expecting 12 – 15 children from Cubbies through 4th grade T&T (we currently have no 5th or 6th graders). As the first night of Awana approached, we began receiving several registrations from the host church. As it all panned out, we had around 45 children, Cubbies – 6th grade for Awana!!

What a logistical challenge! New leaders, new facility, 3/4 of the club were new and starting fresh in Awana. So the scramble was on to get enough supplies, uniforms, handbooks, etc.

Things are going well, both churches are pleased with the way things are going. I still need to work on some logistical items, but we’ve handled the growth well and are looking for even more growth.

Yes, I made some mistakes and we’ve had success. As with any club, we should always be learning and tweaking as needed.  The main lesson learned, always be ready for God to do great things. Be prepared for many children to come to learn about Jesus. I believe that this is preparing our club, and both churches, for what God will be doing in the next year.

I have always believed that when churches work together, that God can do amazing things. That’s the main reason for my web site. As we work together, God will do great things through each of us.

Are you ready for what God is going to to do in your club?

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 🙂

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