Sunday Morning Strategies: Recruit Special Volunteers

special volunteerWelcome back to our series of “Sunday Morning Strategies” for accommodating children of divorce and children from single parent homes in your Sunday morning children’s ministry or church service. The goal of this series is to equip you to better minister to the children in your church who come to you from non-traditional family structures. In a prior installment, we addressed the need to train volunteers to minister to children from divorced and single-parent homes and some strategies for undertaking that training.

However, just training the volunteers you already have may not be enough. You should also consider “targeted recruiting” to specifically find and recruit volunteers who will be able to relate to, and empathize with, children from divorced, separated and single-parent homes. By having some of these specialized volunteers spread throughout your ministry, you can help to ensure that a hurting a child has someone who can relate to them in their time of greatest need. These volunteers will bring a needed skill set and benefits to your ministry including:

  • A unique ability to understand and appreciate the circumstances children of divorced and separated parents are experiencing.
  • A sounding board for kids who are convinced that no one really knows that they are going through or cares.
  • An innate ability to recognize when the underlying issue that is bothering a child has to do with their parents’ divorce or separation. Adults who experienced divorce as a child seem to have this sixth sense when it comes to understanding children who are currently going through it.

While it is possible to train your existing volunteers in these areas, finding people who already possess these gifts will help both you and the kids in your ministry. Here are some prime candidates who will bring a new perspective to your ministry and the ability to minister to children of divorce and children from single-parent homes:

  • Adults who went through the divorce of their parents as a child are great candidates. These adults need to be emotionally and spiritually mature in order to be equipped to deal with kids going through their own parents’ divorce. The conversations these volunteers have with kids about their own situations are likely to open up old wounds if not adequately filled, but if they are in a position to help these kids, that shared experience is a great jumping off point for building a relationship.
  • Single parents who have adequately recovered from their own divorce. These people are in a unique position to deal with kids from divorced/separated homes. As with adult children of divorce, it is imperative that these adults be at a place of forgiveness and responsibility in their own divorces. Otherwise, they will be perceived as just another adult who doesn’t really understand what kids go through in a divorce.
  • Teachers are a great source of comfort and information. Most teachers have dealt with the issue of divorce in their classrooms and can bring a fresh perspective to your ministry.
  • Leaders of other ministries to children of divorce or divorced adults. While these people will likely have to adjust to your children’s ministry, they will bring with them a wealth of information and understanding when it comes to dealing with issues related to divorce and the things children experience when their parents divorce or separate.
  • Grandparents whose own children have gotten a divorce. Grandparents are often cited by children of divorce as a source of comforting and stability in a tumultuous time. Grandparents who have helped their own grandkids deal with issues related to divorce are uniquely positioned to help the kids in your ministry too.
  • Counselors and pastors with a gift for counseling. There are issues related to children of divorce which will be beyond your ability to deal with on a Sunday morning. If you are lucky enough to have a trained and gifted counselor on your staff or in your congregation, they should be high on your targeted list for potential children’s ministry volunteers.

Unlike a specialized divorce ministry, you are not likely to specifically address the issues related to divorce in your children’s ministry (though we will talk a little later in this series about understanding how children of divorce view certain bible stories differently). However, you will have these hurting kids in your ministry, and having specific volunteers in your ministry who are equipped to talk to these kids and build relationships with them will help in their healing process and help you to understand how best to minister to them. Take some time today to think about who in your church would be a good candidate for your targeted recruitment list. Who can be your go-to person/group of people when it comes to the kids in your ministry who are hurting because of divorce or separation?

This article is updated and adapted from an article originally published on Divorce Ministry 4 Kids on August 19, 2013.

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Written by Wayne Stocks

Wayne is the founder and executive director of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. He is a happily married father of four kids with a passion for helping young people who are going through rough times. In addition to Hope 4 Hurting Kids, Wayne previously started I Am A Child of Divorce and Divorce Ministry 4 Kids to help kids who are dealing with the disruption of their parents’ relationship. These are now part of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. Wayne speaks frequently at conferences and churches on issues related to helping kids learn to deal with difficult emotions and life in modern families.

Wayne lives with his wife, three youngest kids, three dogs and an insane collection of his kids’ other pets outside of Columbus, Ohio. In addition to his work with Hope 4 Hurting Kids, Wayne is a partner in a local consulting firm, an avid reader, coaches his son’s soccer team and is a proud supporter of Leicester City Football Club (and yes, for those in know, his affinity for the club does predate the 2016 championship).

You can reach Wayne at wayne@hope4hurtingkids.com.