Reach Volunteers With These Digital Resources


Whether you’ve been in ministry for 30 years or 30 days, it’s likely that volunteers are high on your list of challenges. You may wonder how to recruit new leaders or how to keep track of who’s serving and when. Maybe it’s been frustrating to gather everyone for training, or even walking through classroom procedures. And you can’t even begin to share your feelings about volunteers who cancel at the last minute!

It’s true. Finding, background checking, organizing, training, and affirming volunteers has never been easy. And with today’s congested calendars, the volunteer pool seems busier—and smaller—than ever!

Is there any way to get ahead in the volunteer game?

Hope may just be a few mouse clicks away! Technology tools can help us find, coordinate, and even celebrate our teams. Brittany Nelson, founder of, is passionate about using digital resources to transform how we do ministry. Nelson’s book, Time to Update: 7 Areas to Integrate Digital Discipleship explores how updated methods and strategies can help us reach kids in new ways. And those methods aren’t just for connecting with kids and families—they can ease the way with volunteer challenges, too. To bring her expertise to you, the team asked Nelson her top tips for solving the volunteer puzzle.

1. Use digital tools to recruit.

While a face-to-face, in-person conversation is the best way to ask someone to join the team, digital resources can help prepare people for ministry involvement. In fact, Nelson believes sharing the vision of ministry is one of the biggest ways a digital strategy can help recruit volunteers.

“Now more than ever before, we have at least a dozen different ways to creatively communicate the vision of our ministry and invite people to join the team that makes the vision come to life. Whether this is through videos, pictures, stories, social media posts, or emails, leaders can show people what it’s like to serve in children’s ministry rather than just telling them or asking them to serve.”

Following this strategy, you might make a short video (one minute or less) showing a typical Sunday morning of one of your team member’s ministry activities. Or create a quick slideshow of the fun that happens in your kidmin area. Feature a “volunteer of the week” on social media and let that person tell what they like about serving in children’s ministry.

Once you begin thinking through a digital strategy, the options become endless. Nelson shares, “A church in Florida made small business cards with a simple question, ‘How can I serve?’ alongside a call to action to scan a QR code on the card. The QR card takes you to a form to add your name, info, and an indicator of where you’d like to serve. This is a practical, easy way to use the digital world to streamline the recruiting and onboarding process.”

Looking for more recruiting ideas at your fingertips? Check out the downloadable Overflow! Volunteer Recruiting Package! And be aware that digital natives (meaning, younger people in your church) may jump at the chance for tech-connected ways they can serve. You could create roles for photographer, digital content creator, or social media coordinator—roles that may reach people who aren’t comfortable teaching or working directly with kids.

Don’t Forget to Background Check

A critical element to the recruiting process—especially when gathering children’s and youth ministry volunteers—is background checks. Don’t skip this crucial step! Thankfully, a fantastic digital tool, Shepherd’s Watch, can help you streamline this process so it doesn’t get missed.

2. Leverage digital resources to coordinate, communicate with, and train volunteers.

 Coordinate and Communicate

Now you’ve got the team in place, so what’s next? Busy volunteers may still struggle to make it to in-person training times. What about communicating last-minute changes or reminders? And how can you keep everyone on track and scheduled to serve at the right time? Nelson believes that technology tools can make organization, communication, and training a seamless part of everyday life for your team.

“Digital tools and systems like Planning Center, SignUpGenius, or even a well-organized Google spreadsheet can help make the task of volunteer coordination more manageable. One ministry leader shared how she uses the free version of Slack to organize her teams and communicate with them. All team members are added to channels specific to their area (nursery, preschool, elementary, and so on) and general channels like prayer requests. They use the Slack channels for updates, reminders, and allowing volunteers to communicate with each other whenever they will be out and need a substitute.”

Mass texting systems are another simple solution to efficiently get the word out to entire teams. Check out Simply Text—an innovative option for timing and sending communication to large groups of volunteers. And be sure to mine this trove of volunteer management tips here!

Nelson notes that technology is making it easier than ever to share curriculum and lessons with volunteers. Be sure you’re leveraging the tools inside your curriculum. For example, kidmin leaders using Group’s digitally-based DIG IN can create custom lessons, then assign volunteers their own classrooms where they manage their lessons.


A digital strategy should also embrace training innovations.

“I’ve seen churches use online course platforms like Teachable (or even just sharing training videos on YouTube) to train their teams,” says Nelson. “Whether it’s a recording of the main training or bite-size pieces of training, giving volunteers ways to grow in their leadership online respects their time and allows them to learn whenever and wherever they are.”

Pro Tip: These are useful, accessible tools for easily connecting volunteers to training sessions that you or your church produces. To uphold copyright laws, be mindful to not upload content that’s created by other producers or publishers—even if training videos are supplied as part of a ministry product your church has purchased. Doing so without explicit permission from the publisher could land you in legal hot water.

You can also “sneak” training in, without leaders even realizing it! Check out some training tactics that make it easy to get everyone on board and ready to serve!

3. Affirm volunteers in digital spaces.

You’ve worked hard to find and equip your team. Encouragement and affirmation are necessary to keeping that team! So why not engage some digital tools for this part of your strategy, too? Nelson has practical solutions for that.

“Consider sharing e-cards or digital gift cards. Some churches also provide a QR code or barcode for gift cards to local coffee shops. Volunteers can swing by the business and pick up their favorite drink, and the ministry covers the bill. I’ve been on the receiving and giving end of this idea, and it’s so much fun!” Nelson shares how to use this as a Mother’s Day celebration, too.

Celebrating your team may be as simple as a few fun social media posts, calling attention to team members’ efforts, ways they’re serving, or the difference your team is making. The key is integrating celebration as part of your overall strategy, rather than an afterthought. Remember to write down things you’ve seen team members do. Take pictures of your team in action. Grab quick video testimonials from parents, so you can use these as part of your celebration and team retention strategy.

Final Thoughts

Volunteers will likely always be a challenge for kidmin leaders. Digital tools can streamline your strategy, freeing you up for in-person, face-to-face moments to really get to know your team of children’s ministry volunteers. (They are pretty amazing, aren’t they?)

As you approach the task of finding and developing a team, remember you’re not alone. Nelson encourages leaders to approach a digital strategy with prayer and reason! “Don’t get caught up in feeling like you have to do it all. Ask for help, do your research, and spend time praying about what digital discipleship looks like in your ministry context.”

(You can learn more about digital discipleship and how it impacts kids and families here.)

Brittany Nelson is an author, speaker, and the creator of, an online hub of downloadable resources made FOR children’s ministry leaders BY children’s ministry leaders. She works to support children’s ministry leaders around the world by sharing resources and encouragement that grow kids deeper in their faith. Her other adventures include being a mom to the two sweetest little girls, reading as many books as she can, volunteering in children’s and youth ministry, and drinking lots of herbal tea. She one day hopes to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon dressed as her favorite princess, Belle.

© Group Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. No unauthorized use or duplication permitted.


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