When did you last plan a playdate? Maybe that sounds kind of weird, but hear me out. Think about those that you serve in ministry with – those that you see daily and work closely with. Have you ever intentionally arranged a time to “play” or interact freely in an unstructured environment with them? I am totally guilty of neglecting this important aspect of developing deeper staff and volunteer relationships.
Yet, Jesus is my model for ministry and I can’t help but notice all the time He spent with His disciples. John 3:22 says, “Afterward Jesus and His disciples left Jerusalem and went out into the Judean countryside, where He spent some time with them, and baptized.” It’s crazy because this moment took place right after Jesus was at Passovers doing miracles. He was busy. He was doing ministry. However, He took the time to break away and spend some time with His guys.
Do you see where I am going? Your leadership in the midst of ministry is so important, but so is intentional, unstructured time with your staff and volunteers. On what I like to call a playdate, there is an opportunity to further build a relationship in a unique and different environment. Here, trust and accountability can be further established while there is a new opportunity to discover more about someone’s passion(s) and personality. Even textbooks on organizational development stress the importance of intentionally spending some free time with staff to increase their motivation and efficiency. The truth is, you can learn a lot about a person when you play together.
Like I stated, I have previously failed at being intentional about playdates. But I will say that the handful of times I have made it work, it has been so beneficial. Go skate a park in a different city, play hockey, race go-karts, climb a mountain, go mini golfing, visit a shooting range, play paintball, etc… Just try to do something fun outside your normal relational routine.
A few weeks ago I really started implementing playdates, and how God provided was amazing. I have a friend with a plane and he was actually able to fly a volunteer and I to Michigan for the day to snowboard. It was an incredible experience in so many ways.
So, be creative with this! If funds are tight, explain your purpose and ask a donor to help make it happen. Just be sure to plan a playdate in the near future, you won’t regret it!