Thanks for joining me at my breakout session all about turning your volunteer meeting into a party so your team actually WANTS to attend! Below you’ll find a copy of the notes for the breakout, links to the free downloads I mentioned, and even a few additional resources. Have more questions? Email me at
No one wants to attend ANOTHER boring meeting, and your volunteers are no different! Whether it’s an annual volunteer training or your weekly volunteer meeting, this session discusses tips and ideas for turning your meetings into a party! Using just a few simple and applicable ideas, you can host trainings that volunteers actually WANT to attend.
Think about the most exciting and enjoyable party you’ve ever attended. What made it so enjoyable? The people? The occasion? The food?
As you’re planning your volunteer training, remember that all good parties…
(Click each title below to expand the section and find notes + downloads regarding that topic.)

Require Excellent Communication

  1. Communicate ahead of time so it can get on people’s calendars – send out save the dates, offer multiple dates of the same training, etc.
  2. If you expect everyone to be there, you have to give them plenty of notice. I tried to release our volunteer training dates 3 months before the event, even if I knew nothing else about it yet. When people have enough notice, there’s less chance they’ll have to miss it.
  3. Set up the training as part of the expectations for serving and as part of the recruitment process. (Psst – Free recruitment email templates here for anyone who attended the breakout session!) 
  4. Make it as easy as possible to attend. Pick dates and times when volunteers are already at the church (we had ours right before Sunday service for this reason). Provide childcare for the event by recruiting a few youth to attend both sessions – once as a trainee and once as a babysitter. Do everything you can to eliminate any excuses a volunteer may have for missing training.
  5. Give them ALL the details closer to time. Make sure they know who, what, when, where, and why to attend training.
  6. Think about the way you communicate too – email, in person, social media, etc. and ask for an RSVP and follow up with those who don’t respond.  
  7. Don’t call it a “meeting.” You probably aren’t super excited about attending meetings, and your volunteers aren’t either. Whether you call it a training session, a convention, a conference, a summit, a rally, or even a gathering, what you call your training event will subliminally influence a volunteer’s attitude about attending. 

TALK IT OUT: What’s 1 thing you can do to improve communication with your volunteers? OR share 1 effective way you’ve found to communicate with your volunteers. 

Have Food & Fun

  1. Offer food (even if it’s just a brownie bite). It’s a great way to show appreciation for your volunteers from the very beginning. If you feed them, they will come.
  2. Food at gatherings is biblical! Jesus fed his disciples: Over and over again, we hear stories of the disciples breaking bread together.
  3. Give your training a theme – We’re in children’s ministry, so this is right in our wheelhouse. Just like you would for a game night, a holiday event, or VBS, give your volunteer training a theme (think baseball, jungle-themed, superhero, storybook, underwater, Western, etc). Then carry that theme throughout the entire training – in the words you say, the graphics you use, the ideas you share, and the food you serve.
  4. Make it fun! Along with theming the event, provide opportunities for fun and prizes too! Give out raffle prizes and incorporate some surprises. This will help keep the volunteers on their toes and fight off the boredom after you’ve had to talk about Planning Center Online for 10 minutes. When volunteers enjoy training, they actually want to attend and pay attention.
  5. Hand out gifts. People often leave a party with a goody bag, so consider giving out a special appreciation gift at your training. When you give gifts BEFORE someone has even served in your ministry, it helps communicate that you value them not just as people who fill a slot in your volunteer roster but as people in the body of Christ. Find some of our volunteer appreciation gift ideas below!
    1. 24 Volunteer Appreciation Ideas (blog post)
    2. Volunteer Valentine Printable
    3. Christmas Volunteer Appreciation Bundle
    4. Chocolate Chip Cookie Volunteer Appreciation Tag (free resource)
    5. Super Volunteer Gift Card Printable (freebie)
    6. Pumpkin Spice Fall Volunteer Appreciation Printable (freebie)
    7. Even more volunteer appreciation ideas! 
  6. John 10:10 – make your trainings be to the full! Inspire your volunteer tream, not just educate them. Yes, go through important parts of your handbook, but don’t just read through the handbook. Make a top 10 list of what you want your volunteers to know, then spend time going above and beyond the informational to include inspirational aspects of your training. Make it known how important their roles as children’s ministry leaders are. Inspire their hearts and ignite a passion for serving children. Tap into the emotional side of serving and share the wins from your ministry in the last year.
    1. Share information about the 4/14 Window. Compassion International has an excellent “Introduction to the 4/14 Window” video that I’ve used in some of my training events in the past. Talk about some of the statistics from the Barna Group about how children are susceptible to the truth of the gospel: By the time a child is nine years old, their basic moral foundation has solidified. By age thirteen (by the time they graduate from the children’s ministry), they have formed their basic beliefs about God, the reliability of the Bible, the existence of an afterlife, and who Jesus is. Your volunteers influence a child’s foundational faith beliefs, and they should understand the gravity and honor of their position. Highlighting why they serve not only increases volunteer retention but heightens volunteer passion and effectiveness too.

TALK IT OUT: Share a volunteer training theme you’ve used in the past. Share appreciation gifts your volunteers have loved.

Offer Connection & Community

  1. Help volunteers build relationships with you and with each other. Maybe this looks like a special time of prayer; maybe this looks like an icebreaker game (here’s a simple icebreaker game to play with your team), maybe this looks like a prayer partner ministry where your team is praying for each other.
  2. When you go to a party, you’re celebrating something; share the celebrations and wins from your ministry as encouragement. Show pictures of kids, special events, and Sunday mornings. Highlight wins within the ministry and point out growth you see in individual kids as well as the whole group. Record a video of a child sharing their testimony or ask a child to speak at your training and share their faith in person. Remind your volunteers that what they do has an eternal, personal impact on a child’s life and global effect on the future.
  3. Celebrate your team! Consider awarding a volunteer of the month in each age group or for your team as a whole.
  4. Hebrews 10:25 – Keep connecting with your team even after the official training is over. Find ways to do it digitally, via text, cards in the mail, smaller training sessions throughout the year, a mid-year training session, etc.
  5. Connection and community – isn’t this really what ministry is all about? Pray Philippians 1:3-11 over your volunteer team.

PRAY IT OUT: Pray for your volunteer teams and for each other’s volunteer teams using Philippians 1:3-11.

Download Links + Additional Resources

Here’s a quick list of the links, resources, and freebies we mentioned in this session!

Action Step: Put a date on the calendar for your next volunteer party & start planning! Not sure where to start? Choose 1 element and upgrade it.