You’ve searched for storytellers and asked a few to fill in some of your volunteers gaps, but NOW WHAT? What is the next step in volunteer recruitment?

I’ve said this beforeTelling the Greatest Story Ever Told deserves more than slap on the back and a “you can do it” to reach into the hearts of young ones. Not only, does a volunteer storyteller need to know what they’re doing, but you also need to ensure they are the right fit for your children’s ministry environment.

Here are some ideas for a process you can use to make this easier on both you and the storyteller you hope to have on stage.

What do I do before I put them on stage?

Fill out a volunteer application. You need their contact information and permission to run a background check. Secondly, on an application, your potential storyteller provides you with information that allows you an objective way to say no to any who might not make great children’s ministry volunteers. Have a standard form for every volunteer, but tailor a few extra few questions for storytellers and anyone you plan to have onstage . Ask about:

Drama/theater experience – even if it was a while ago, the experience will help them as a storyteller
Experience in front of people – many adults present information for a living, which makes them comfortable on stage
A Bible story they love (or would love) to tell and why – this will give you insight into how they look at the stories in the Bible.
Favorite movies or books – storytellers spend their time watching or reading stories. Find out the sort of stories your perspective team member enjoys

Interview your volunteer. It can be formal or informal, but one-on-one gives you a chance to test their “it factor,” that spark that makes this person irresistible to watch. By gauging how they communicate with you, you’ll be able to tell if they will work or not. Ask them questions about their faith journey, why they want to serve in children’s ministry, and what grade/age level they see themselves working with best. If you’re not quite sure how great they’ll be on stage after this interview, but you still like them, have them memorize and present a script as an audition. To help you get started, I’ve created a PDF with sample interview questions that you can download below.

Audition your storytellers. Give them an actual script to perform. Auditioning storytellers before you put them on stage in front of kids is an indicator of how well they can memorize, adapt to their surroundings, and engage an audience. This is optional depending on how well you know your volunteers, but this can be super helpful in determining how well a potential storyteller can memorize and deliver a story from a script.

How many equals a team? 

One.

When it comes to team building, you have to start somewhere. It’s important to let the person/people you work with right now know they’re part of a team. And while looking to expand the team, involve them by casting vision for how the storytelling team can grow. Enlist your current storytellers to be on the lookout for recruits. Extroverts know other extroverts.

As your team grows, you’ll want to have your storytellers begin to specialize. Bible stories have different personalities that lend themselves to different types of storytellers. Some will be better suited to more serious stories while others excel at the light-hearted narratives. Not every storyteller can share the Abraham and Isaac story well, but the same is true for the story of Jesus turning water into wine – you probably want someone super fun to deliver that one. You may have never considered having a high schooler share the Bible story – but think about a teen sharing the David and Goliath story, roughly the same age David was when that story happened. That could be a powerful moment for your kids—and for them too.

Once I have grown the volunteer team, how should I schedule storytellers? Having several people on your team allows you to schedule around the busy lives of your volunteers. When it comes to scheduling your storytellers, you have several options.

Permanent environment. You can assign storytellers to a permanent environment and have them serve each week no matter what the story. While this can work most of the time, this might not always be the best option if the storyteller assigned to the room doesn’t really fit the Bible story. (see notes about personalities of Bible stories above.)

Monthly rotation. They could serve once a month, but tell the Bible story at each service hour.

Match to age group. If you have grade-leveled large group environments, schedule storytellers according to their rapport with those ages. It takes a special person to capture the attention of those fourth and fifth graders, but the same is true for the Kindergarten and First graders. Over time you’ll discover which storytellers to match with which group.

Storytelling strength. Schedule the storytellers you have based on the stories you plan to tell throughout the month. This takes more work on your part, but you can invest in web applications such as Planning Center that automates sending emails, attaches scripts, and allows your volunteers to find their own replacements when they’re out of town

Scheduling your storytellers may be some trial and error. But to quickly get into a smooth system, ask for their feedback as to what works best. Remember each one is a volunteer with a schedule of their own they are trying to navigate. Always show grace and work together to find the best possible solution for scheduling your storytellers.

And it should go without saying, but once you have your volunteers in place, thank and encourage them on a regular basis for being a vital part of the storytelling team!

More homework:

Now that you have some people interested in becoming a storyteller, take them through this process and get them scheduled.

Use the form below to download sample interview questions. Try a few and see how it goes.

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