Wanted: A Few Good Men
Have you ever wondered where all the good men are—that is, in children’s ministry? I’ve personally had the opportunity to see the benefits men can bring to a children’s ministry team, yet it’s difficult for many children’s ministries to recruit men. In conversations I’ve had with men about this topic, they offer similar reasons for resisting recruitment—which leads me to conclude that often the problem lies in how ministries approach men they want to recruit. Here are the common reasons men give for not volunteering.
• “I’m too busy:’ Work demands, involvement in their children’s sports programs, home improvement projects, and family responsibilities can create a narrow margin for men to take on additional responsibilities.
• “I’d be the only man on the team:’ Many men don’t feel comfortable spending time with groups of women. The majority of children’s ministry teams are comprised of mainly women; this can be awkward for men.
• “They want me to be the tough guy:” Many times key leaders have come to me requesting a male volunteer because they needed disciplinary muscle with a tough classroom. Or I’ve had ministry directors request men to volunteer for a classroom remodeling project. But I can’t recall a time when a leader asked a man to assist with the strategic direction of the ministry. Men are certainly willing to help with any aspect of ministry; we can’t neglect to offer them significant roles.
• “Children’s ministry isn’t fun.” Okay, I admit it. In every man there’s still a little boy who likes to have fun. Men tell me their impression of children’s ministry is often restrictive, inactive, and bland. While this impression may be far from reality, it’s time to rethink how volunteering in children’s ministry is communicated to men.
Round ‘Em Up
Use these guidelines to gradually build male participation in your ministry.
• Create a profile. Create a composite profile of a male leader on your team or in your church. This exercise will help you to define the person you’d like to recruit, and it’ll help you articulate your need to others who recruit.
• Make the ministry appealing. Examine the opportunities your ministry offers to men. Ministry is appealing to men if it offers:
• Opportunities to impact children’s lives.
• Connections with other men.
• Participation in planning and strategizing the ministry.
• A different environment from the work world, such as playing with kids outdoors or mentoring a group of preteens.
• Ask men to recruit. Several years ago I had lunch with a couple of guys who run an executive search firm. I asked if they could help me recruit some people for the ministry. My request was not gender-specific, but interestingly they recruited a higher percentage of males. If your recruiters are all female, consider asking a male staff member or veteran volunteer to assist with recruiting, and you may get a higher male response.
• Include men in key roles. Some men work every day in a strategic planning environment, so leverage their skills and ask them to help you with ministry planning. This doesn’t meet a classroom need, but having men on board who understand your ministry can provide advocates to help promote and recruit male volunteers.
• Provide relationship opportunities. Men are relational at their core and would more likely serve in ministry for a long period if they’re connecting and forming relationships with other men. Use recruiting events that men will enjoy, such as a golf tournament with a steak dinner (man food). I’ve used these types of events to cast vision, extend appreciation, connect men, and challenge men to be ministry recruiters.
Men can make a difference in your children’s ministry and are often ready to get involved—all you need to do is provide the opportunities and extend an invitation to join the team.
Jay Hostetler is a leadership coach for Church Team Connections (www .churchteamconnections .com).
The above article, “Wanted: A Few Good Men” is written by Jay Hostetler. The article was excerpted from www.childrensministry.com/leaders , Aug. 2007.
The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.