Ideas to Fill Your Roster

by Mark Entzminger/ October 4, 2018

Recently I saw a post on social media asking for tips on how to fill the roster farther in advance. This is a very common need in the local church, but possibly the most difficult to manage in children’s ministry because of the sheer volume of leaders we work with.

Below I’ve outlined some ideas to consider as you look to reduce the number of “call-outs” and last-minute scramble to fill empty slots.

1. Recruit for value, not need

It’s not common for people to recruit team members based on need. Consequently, we might say: “We have an opening in Children’s Ministries. Would you consider being our Royal Rangers program coordinator?” And while the needs may be real, rather than placing the emphasis on the hole in the ministry, instead consider placing the emphasis on the hole in the hearts of the children by saying, “Hey, we have an opening in Children’s Ministries. I believe God may have put something inside of you these kids need. Would you consider being our Royal Rangers program coordinator?”

Do you see the difference? By placing the emphasis on the person, it helps them realize they are not replaceable on short notice.

2. Develop a strategy for “swapping”

Instead of taking the pressure of call-outs, build a system where they can communicate with other leaders to see if they can switch weeks. This keeps your roster full and allows them to be a part of finding their own solution. Just keep in mind, they will need to communicate this swap to you, so you are not surprised, and can update your weekly communications.

3. Have a pool of “on-call” leaders

In addition to, but similar to “swapping,” you may have people who are not willing to commit to serving on a regular basis, but they would allow their name to be listed as “on-call.” These leaders’ names and numbers could be published to all current workers who could be told these “on-call" people may be available if a need arises.

4. Ask for their “blackout” dates a month in advance

Many people know their schedules far in advance and can let you know when they will be unavailable. Having a system in place to allow them to submit the dates when they are unavailable will increase the chances of scheduling them for when they are in town.

5. Talk about canceling ahead of time so they know your expectations

During volunteer orientation, or at least once during an annual meeting, make “call-outs” an item on the agenda. This is not your time to embarrass or belittle people for missing a Sunday. Rather, it’s a planned conversation where you can establish your expectations and train them on how and what to do if they have a schedule conflict with one of their assigned service times.

6. Shape the church-wide culture of investment

This one will require all church leadership to be on the same page. But think of what would happen if an expectation was set that all church members needed to be involved in serving! They should not be interested in “controlling” the church, but rather serving the needs of others through the ministries of the church.

This means they are investing in the health of the church to keep it healthy, rather than inspecting the health of the church to point out something they watch others work on.

7. Remember the importance of serving—to the one who serves

While serving meets the needs in a ministry, the real benefits come to those who serve. Once people stop serving, they can become critical, disconnect from the life of the church, and in many instances eventually leave or become disillusioned about the church. One of the great ways people can remain spiritually healthy is to pour into others. This is a message that must be repeated proactively. When people understand this, they may be more likely to show up.

8. Create written position descriptions and expectations

Some people agree to serve in a ministry role without fully knowing what is involved or expected. This can result in frustration which is shown in a variety of ways. One of the common ways this frustration is manifested is by becoming disengaged and sloughing off the responsibility.

To help prevent this misunderstanding, consider writing up one-page summaries of what each ministry position will involve. Include the service expectations and time commitments up front to help reduce the amount of confusion.

Regardless of the number and ways you implement solutions to reduce the number of call-outs, you may never be able to fully eliminate them. But perhaps one of these ideas may spur on some conversations which make it much easier on a week-to- week basis.