Onboarding Volunteers

As a leader in kids ministry, one of the most critical functions of your role is that of a gatekeeper. It is your responsibility to create a safe environment for kids and that starts with WHO you allow to be around them. In this section you'll learn how to have a one-on-one interview with a potential volunteer to assess whether they are safe and healthy.


PHASE 1: INTERVIEW

Everyone who signs up for our kids ministry team will be background checked and reference checked. If they clear those preliminary safety checks, they will be invited to an in-person interview. This is a chance for us to verify that they are safe to be around kids and spiritually healthy to speak truth into the lives of our kids.

1. Get to know them. This may be one of the only opportunities you have to sit down one-on-one with the people on your team. Take advantage of the opportunity by getting to know the person sitting across from you.

PRO TIP: It usually works best when you interview people who are the same gender as you. If that’s not possible, make sure you find a place to chat that is visible enough to other people but enough out of the way to have an open conversation without worrying about being overheard, such as the Depot.

2. Determine if they are safe and healthy. The entire purpose of the interview is to make sure the person is safe and healthy. We are responsible for the safety of our kids and one of the most important ways we do that is by acting as the gatekeepers for who is allowed to be around them. Not everyone who passes a background check is safe enough to entrust with our kids. Not everyone who follows Jesus is in an emotionally and spiritually healthy place to speak truth into a kids life. It is ok to say “no” and it is ok to say “not right now”.

The Interview Notes Sheet will be your best friend as you facilitate this interview. It will give you all of the questions you need to ask. It is designed for flow and functionality. We start with easy questions and work our way up to more personal questions so that when the time comes, they will feel more comfortable opening up. We also created it with lots of checkboxes so that you can quickly mark things off and be more focused on the person in front of you than jotting down a bunch of notes.

Upon successfully completing an interview, we will give new volunteers an Orientation to cover all of the things they’ll need to know to be a part of our kids ministry team.

PHASE 2: ORIENTATION

1. Take them on a tour of the kids ministry area. There are a number of reasons why we think tours are helpful for new volunteers. For one thing, lots of people have no idea where they want to serve or what age group they like best. This is a great way to help them figure that out.

There are also plenty of people who have some sort of stereotype about what kids ministry is all about. Perhaps they expect it to be like the sunday school they grew up in. Maybe they assume they have to be an expert teacher and spend hours prepping during the week. Showing them what our team is actually like answers a lot of those questions before they even have to ask.

2. Determine which role they’re interested in. Most people have no idea what roles we have on our kids team. A big reason why people don’t sign up for kids ministry is because they can’t see themselves being a “teacher”. We want to highlight all of the different ways that they can be a part of our team. They may even be surprised to find that there’s something they like more than their original preference. Ultimately, we want each person who joins our team to find their sweet spot.

Now that we’ve shared with them about all of the roles on our team, they should probably have a decent idea which one they would fit best in. Use the Role Description Sheet for the role they have chosen to explain the expectations and responsibilities. 

3. Walk them through our safety guidelines. We have created a compact version of our Volunteer Handbooks and listed all of the must-know things on a single page. It is absolutely critical that we cover each and every policy/procedure listed on this sheet. We have boiled all of our handbooks down to the most crucial pieces, so keep in mind that everything on that sheet is important.

PRO TIP: We have created the safety guidelines to be general enough that it could apply to all of our campuses. If there is additional information about your campus or team that team members must know, this is your chance to share it with them.

4. Have them sign the Volunteer Agreement. Once you’ve talked through their role and covered policies, invite them to sign the Volunteer Agreement. This outlines all of the expectations we have for the members of our kids ministry team.

5. Explain their next steps for Basic Training. Finally, help the new volunteer get started with Basic Training. Invite them to go to sandalskids.com/basictraining to get started. Explain which track they should go to based on the role they’re interested in.

Once they’ve finished their Orientation, invite them back the following week to observe the role they are interested in.

PHASE 3: OBSERVATION

1. Give them a chance to observe the role they’re interested in. By now the volunteer should have identified the role they’re interested in and the age group that most excites them. Find a volunteer that you trust who is serving in the role the new volunteer is interested in and allow them to observe what it’s actually like. Give them an Observation Sheet so they have an idea what to look for.

2. Follow up after their observation. Invite them to come find you after service so that they can drop off their sheet and debrief how things went. If for some reason they can’t find you, let them know to drop it off at the check-in desk before they leave and assure them that you’ll give them a call during the week to ask how things went.

PRO TIP: If after their observation they are still uncertain about the role, give them a chance to observe somewhere else the following week. It’s ok if they need more than one week to find out. Ultimately, our goal is to help them find their sweet spot.

3. Place them in a role. Once they’ve completed their observation, assign them to the role and service time that’s the best fit.