Something every leader wants to see is strong relationships form between their kids and volunteers, but at times we don’t know how to facilitate them beyond telling our volunteers to be relational.

As leaders it’s so powerful when we go beyond words and lead by example, equipping volunteers with tools that will set them up for success as they serve. Let’s look at some ways we can create a team that not only values relationships, but actively prioritizes meaningful relationships. 

Relationships are a foundational part of children’s ministry. The genuine connections formed between kids and leaders can create an environment where kids feel known and loved, which continues to point them to God’s heart. It would be amazing if we could walk into a ministry full of developed, Godly relationships, but that is rarely reality.

Relationships take work, which is one of the reasons they’re such a beautiful, God-given gift. Leading volunteers into building consistent, reliable mentor relationships is not a simple task, but the fruit produced will be worth the efforts.

Relationships take work, which is one of the reasons they’re such a beautiful, God-given gift.

3 Key Steps for Relational Ministry

Set the Culture

As people, we love to be known—really known.

Your volunteers crave this as well. Before I realized the importance of this, Sundays looked like me quickly briefing volunteers before running off to check on another room or fix another problem. People would hug me or wave and say “always running” in passing.

By the end of the services, I realized that something felt unfinished. I would walk to the rooms and the volunteers already shut down and headed to lunch. That’s when I decided I was done getting to the end of service without connecting with my team, listening to them, praying for them.

As people, we love to be known—really known.

For most of us, it is difficult to build deep friendships with every volunteer, but in the few minutes you have with them on a Sunday, they can walk away feeling deeply cared for. Start by asking them what they did this weekend or follow up on a prayer request they shared. Ask them how they’re doing … and then ask them how they’re really doing.

 Don’t forget to share what God is doing in your life with them; let them know that you value them enough to be vulnerable with them. Whether you’ve had a rough week, or you’ve experienced a big win, they will appreciate the moment of realness.

teacher reading with child
Credit: Getty Images/Image Source/Sydney Bourne

Before you leave, pray for them right then and there. When leading your team to build relationships with kids, they won’t need to guess how it’s done because you will have already set a relational culture within your ministry.

Wonder Ink’s 3-year, 52-week children’s ministry curriculum offers kids space to fully find their place in God’s Big Story. Children discover they are Known by God, Loved by Jesus, and Led by the Holy Spirit.

Give Tools for Relational Ministry

If you’re like me, you thrive when given instruction while still being trusted to take the reins. Although I love it when I am allowed creative freedom, I want to be sure I am still in line with the goal.

That is exactly what my volunteers communicated they needed in a curriculum, something flexible that provides guidance, while allowing them to lead in a way that works best for their group.

A game-changing feature in Wonder Ink is how it incorporates action points for leaders to make sure kids feel loved and known in the limited time spent with them. At times, being relational, while teaching God’s Word, can feel like two separate, large responsibilities.

Wonder Ink’s lesson format has equipped us with tools that empower kids to build relationships with each other, us, and ultimately with Jesus. Throughout the lesson, you will find prompts where a kid could use a high five, tips to ensure no one feels left out, and truths to share that kids will carry home.

Kids are asked questions that allow them to connect their life to God’s Word and it allows you to learn more about who they are.

Sundays are more effective when we don’t need to choose between time spent learning about God’s love and building lasting connections. 

Emphasize the Importance of Preparedness

I was once that unprepared volunteer, standing in a corner reading the lesson at hyper speed as the kids arrived. I would get up to teach and have my eyes stuck to the script, Bible to the side, nervously speaking, I was a mess.

Sundays are more effective when we don’t need to choose between time spent learning about God’s love and building lasting connections. 

I did not yet understand that I better allow the Holy Spirit to lead me when my mind is not scrambling to piece together a lesson. I was wasting valuable time that could be used to connect with kids and delivering a mediocre, un-engaging message.

Conversation about the value of preparedness is always a priority in our ministry.

To be relational requires us to be present, and to be present, we must be prepared.

Wonder Ink has created a space for your volunteers to independently explore all the elements they will be teaching, which has freed us to be more hands on with our kids on Sunday’s. This has made all the difference in the confidence volunteers have in themselves to be the leaders they are created to be.