Discovery Land Blog

I Thought This Was Obvious: A Lesson In Training Others

Discovery Land - Thursday, July 26, 2018

As I was standing in line at the Sacramento Airport, I noticed this safety sign posted in a prominent place so everyone could see it. I thought was, "Isn't that obvious? No guns, no smoking, no explosives, no in incendiary devices. Did you really need to post this? Haven't we all heard this a million times?"

After shaking my head, I paused and realized that this was my perspective, as someone who travels regularly. For others, this may be the first time they've ever flown, or maybe they haven't flown in a very long time. I also remembered that one time a mission trip colleague, also a seasoned traveler, inadvertently packed a very long knife in her carry on bag for a trip to the jungle, which is obviously not allows. Whoops!

So I guess the obvious isn't always so...obvious! This is a principle to remember as we prepare to train our volunteers for a new season of ministry. As leaders, we eat, sleep, and breathe children's ministry, but that is not the case for our most of our volunteers.

So let's remember:
1) Repetition is key. Do no assume that volunteers fully understood an idea or instruction the first time.

2) Make your key points big, simple and obvious. Be bold and just say what you need to say. For example: "We expect our kids to listen and obey while in class because we value them learning and living out the Word of God."

3) Avoid big words. What does incendiary even mean? It means "(of a device or attack) designed to cause fires" by the way. If you want to make your point clear, use words that the average person can readily understand and apply.

Your whole ministry will benefit when you look at your training through the lens of others!

Recruiting with Purpose!

Discovery Land - Friday, November 11, 2016

By Kris Smoll

How do you recruit? This email recently came past my desk:

"We are in dire need of a lunchroom helper tomorrow, Thursday, November 10th and a lunchroom helper for EVERY day next week. If you are able to help in this area, please contact the office and let us know! Thank you in advance for your volunteer help, it is appreciated!"

Do you hear the stress and desperation in this email or do you hear the joy and value found in serving? What kind of response might they have gotten if they would have instead said, "Take time to meet your student’s best friends while serving lunch tomorrow. It will be one hour of smiles, great food and the ability to role model to your child a servant’s heart." Wouldn’t this make you as a parent catch a bigger picture of this great experience rather than just hearing this request as a desperate need?

How do you recruit for CM mid-year when you are short volunteers?

Here a few tips:

1) Explain the "why" behind the ministry.

2) Share how they will bless others and how they will gain from this opportunity.

3) Cheer for the ministry, rather than highlight how desperate you are.

4) Give clear instructions on how to sign up and how many people you need.

5) Share a short testimony (phrase) from a current leader: "Best part of my day!"

6) Include pictures as much as possible of the ministry blessing others.

7) Have a team of people pray specifically for each position needed.

8) Ask volunteers to recruit for you!

We never need to recruit out of frustration or desperation. Instead, we get to invite people to join the work of the living God!

The Know, Do, Think and Feel Right of Leadership

Discovery Land - Friday, September 23, 2016
By: Amanda Alberts

With the start of a new year of Discovery Land, it is a great time to talk about the Do Right point of being a great leader. Whether you are a leader in a classroom, a service leader, a department leader or leader of the ministry, it is important to Do leadership Right!

In Discovery Land, it is always important to Know why we do what is Right. We lead Right because we serve an awesome God who brought all things into being by the power of His word, appointed each one of us to this particular time and place to do the work He has called us to do, equips us, perfects us, molds us and uses all we are and offer to Him for His great glory. He is perfect, He is almighty, and He could have done all the work alone, but He has invited us to serve Him and be a part of the amazing work He is doing in His Kingdom on earth and into eternity. Isn’t it worthwhile to serve such a God-- a God who keeps the hailstones, who gives borders to the waves and who tells the sun to rise and set--with excellence?

Let’s Think about 1 Corinthians 15:58: Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. As we give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord, right leadership:

  • Finds answers rather than excuses
  • Apologizes and doesn’t blame
  • Finds new ways to assist others and make their jobs easier
  • Delegates responsibilities and then allows new leaders to flourish
  • Is humble and welcomes constructive criticism 
  • Chooses to serve alongside those on their team 
  • Says ‘thank you’ and is sincere 
  • Is passionate and shares that passion with others
  • Keeps your personal relationship with Christ number one 
  • Prays for the ministry
  • Studies their Bible lesson from the Bible
  • Reads and knows the curriculum each week
  • Has a teachable spirit

When we Know why we lead with excellence, we Think of 1 Corinthians 15:58, and then we lead Right, we can Feel good about a job well done, grateful for the opportunity to be part of God’s work and excited about what comes next.


Discovery Land - Tuesday, May 31, 2016
By: Amanda Alberts

As children’s ministry leaders, what is the number one resource God has provided? It’s not the curriculum or the supplies. It's the volunteers! Our Teachers, Discover Time leaders, Shepherds, One2One leaders, welcome team and cafe volunteers are critically important. It would be nearly impossible to run Sunday morning without the men, women and students who give their time and talents to Bring the Bible to Life.

One big way to invest in your volunteers is through training and equipping them. We kick off each new ministry season (summer/school year) with a very focused and intentional volunteer training session. Here are some of the ways we made the most of our most recent round of training.

1. Make it welcoming.

2. Keep it looking professional.

3. Mix it up! Change up the usual rows of chairs and speaker-style training and instead set up opportunities for conversation and fellowship-style learning.
  • Arrange tables and chairs in a welcoming, relaxed manner
  • Assign a personal trainer to each table to direct conversation
  • Place training materials at each table for trainers
  • Offer a meal or snacks
  • Play a fun icebreaker game
  • Main speaker keeps schedule and directs training
  • Leave time for short question and answer at tables

4. After group training, allow time for individual teams to meet and also provide a break out session for each specific position (teacher, shepherd, welcome team, ect.)

5. Give specific examples of study material and visual aids.

6. Send them home with a challenge to memorize the DL Top 12! Have a fun way to display the names or faces of those who participate.

7. Invest in in your volunteers, share the vision and equip them to in turn invest in our Discovery Land kids! They take their time to come to training, let’s be sure to take our time to make it a fun, interactive and effective time together!

Mystery Coolers

Discovery Land - Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Technology is extremely helpful in communicating efficiently with a group of volunteers. But do you find yourself crafting emails filled with inspiring vision, important ministry details, and prayer requests...only to have volunteers show up without having read them?

"Mystery Coolers" is a fun tool that helps us boost the number of volunteers who open and read their ministry emails.

About once a month, we fill up a cooler with a snack or treat, and place it in the out-of-the-way location. In that week's email, we let our volunteers know that it's "Mystery Cooler" night and add in a clue as to what's in the cooler.

Example: This week the mystery cooler can be found in the kitchen. You bring so much "Pep" to our ministry. Thank you for reading your weekly email!

Note: They are instructed to keep the location under wraps: it's only for those who actually read the email!

This year's mystery coolers will include:

Pepsi - You bring so much "Pep" to our ministry...Thank you for reading your weekly email and not allowing tonight to be a mystery to you...

M&M's - Many Many thanks for reading your weekly emails.

Bubble gum - Thanks for sticking with us during fall kick off

Orange Crush - It's time to CRUSH the enemy! Thanks for faithfully serving!

Small Pringle cans - Thanks for multiplying yourself by making disciples of Jesus.

St. Patty cookies - It's way beyond luck that you serve in Awana...Thank you for obeying God's calling on your life to serve.

Calling All Superheroes! (Volunteer Recruiting Tip)

Discovery Land - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

While recruiting volunteers should be an all-year-round activity, there are usually heavier recruit seasons -- times when you're forming a new team and need to let your needs be known to your congregation. Having something with some *POW* and *SHAZAM* can help open up conversations to share your vision and your needs.

​​Discovery Land's summer curriculum is superhero themed, and we designed a recruiting theme to match : ​Calling All Superheroes! ​ ​​​Each black outline ​​represented​​​​ a needed​ volunteer​. Once a volunteer commit​ted​ to serving​,​ they g​ot​ to pick an ​a​vatar​, ​write their name​ on it,​ and ​fill in ​a black outline.

The c​​lear box ​says​,​ "Will you ​answer the call​?​" ​and has​​​ a batman​-inspired​ red phone​ on it​.​ It ​was ​used ​to collect volunteer flyers.

We h​ope that ​​gives you some inspiration! 

Are You the Missing Piece?

Discovery Land - Monday, May 04, 2015

We all know that "THE ASK" is almost always the most effective way to invite volunteers into your ministry, but an attention-getting theme is a great way to prime the pump. A recruit theme that helps people feel part of the bigger picture, highlights that they are truly needed, and shows there are gaps without them can be especially helpful.  

For a recent recruit season at DL-Appleton, we ordered large puzzle pieces from: to create a giant puzzle.  When a volunteer signed up to serve, they wrote their name on a piece and added it to the giant puzzle. They saw that if we all work together, it's a beautiful, complete picture. Giant, colorful puzzle pieces made out of styrofoam or cardboard were also used for the "pop" and fun factor .

We've got a new superhero recruit theme coming up....description and pictures coming soon!!