A new pastor was visiting the homes of his parishioners, hoping to recruit some volunteers for a new project. At one house it seemed obvious that someone was at home, but no answer came to his repeated knocks at the door. So he took out a business card that had Revelation 3:20 printed on the back of it for such an occasion, and he stuck it in the door.
When the offering was processed the following Sunday, he found that his card had been returned with Genesis 3:10 written on it. Reaching for his Bible to check out the citation, he broke into laughter. Revelation 3:20 begins, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” Genesis 3:10 reads, “I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid for I was naked.”
Part of being a youth pastor is searching for ministry volunteers, which can feel daunting. After all, how can you possibly convince people to be youth group volunteers and donate precious hours each week to spend with moody, twitchy, self-absorbed teenagers? And as you try to generate interest in being a church volunteer, what strategies do you use to help find the right kind of leaders to fit into your youth ministry volunteer roles?
You and your adult leaders are the default thermostat for how much disciple-multiplying heat you’re applying toward your youth ministry.
When your leaders are cranked up high—making and multiplying disciples—your students will tend to be the same way. But if the Gospel Advancing thermostat is set to low, then your students will most likely be the same way. Finding effective volunteer youth leaders and training youth ministry volunteers can make or break your ministry’s influence. Here are 4 secrets to finding the right leaders:Your ministry’s thermostat is set by the people who lead it. Click To Tweet
1. Don’t announce the need.
We all know finding dedicated church volunteers for youth ministry is a challenge. The staff cannot do it all on their own—and they shouldn’t! The church needs to provide opportunities for its members to volunteer and minister in Jesus’s name. This allows for the body of believers to widen its reach, and it offers great ways for people to grow in their gifts—especially considering staff members often have to wear so many hats (preacher, administrator, counselor, janitor, punching bag). Having some help can greatly strengthen your ministry, but be careful on how you announce your need!
Having a youth ministry fair where anybody can volunteer may sound effective, but it can easily create some major problems, especially if people sign up who aren’t teachable, have difficulty relating to youth, or have their own agenda.
Some of you might ask: Can’t I just reject the people on the sign-up sheet who don’t make the cut? If reality TV has taught us anything, it’s that people don’t take rejection well. Don’t put yourself in a position where you have to give reasons for why someone isn’t quite “good enough” for the ministry. This can end up really hurting someone who otherwise could have been motivated to serve in another area of in the church. Rejection can easily dispirit someone from serving and leave them feeling hurt and undervalued.
2. Identify what you’re looking for.
It’s important to clearly identify youth group volunteer responsibilities and expectations. What type of adult leader do you need? Your answer will be partially based on factors like availability, reliability, and relatable authenticity. However, every youth ministry will vary slightly on what this looks like. For instance, you need a healthy male/female balance. But at the core of what you decide to look for should be someone who can get wholeheartedly behind the 7 Values of a Gospel Advancing ministry.
Try This! ❯
Write down the traits of the best mentor you’ve ever had. Identify who in your church has some of those traits and invite them to have a conversation about being a youth leader.
Ideally, you want volunteers who are high will and high skill—leaders who are passionate about youth ministry and know what to do. But if you find yourself in a situation where skill is not available, then focus your attention on people who still have a high will to help. Low skill people, for the most part, can always be trained; will, on the other hand, cannot be forced upon anyone. The worst thing that could happen is having a low will volunteer—even if they seem as if they have a lot going for them (young, gifted, love Jesus). If they don’t commit to serving in the ministry, they will be ineffective leaders.
3. Scout for people.
Once you’ve established your criteria, spend time identifying ideal youth group volunteers. Try inviting them out to coffee so you can get to know them better and share the vision for your youth ministry. In the meeting, you can share Titus 2:1-6, in which the older men and women are challenged to pour into the younger generation. Even if they don’t decide to commit, they’ll still be flattered that you thought of them as a leader, and, who knows, they could decide to volunteer down the road. At least you took the time to share what your vision is for the youth ministry and built a deeper relationship with a member of your church body.
4. Pray for wisdom.
Ultimately, Scripture reminds us that if we lack wisdom all we need to do is ask our Heavenly Father (James 1:5). Don’t let yourself become frustrated with whom to choose or how to go about it. Remember, every youth ministry will look different, and there isn’t a perfect answer for how to go about attracting passionate individuals for youth group involvement. If you find yourself overwhelmed and not knowing what to do, just pray. Repeatedly in Scripture we see that prayer provides results. God will give you wisdom if you ask. Also, check out these tips on keeping good volunteer leaders once you have them.
Always remember that throughout the ages God has been faithful to His church, and He will continue to be. Building a strong volunteer team for youth ministry will help you in fulfilling the mission and vision God has given you. Take the time this week to identify what kind of leaders you need—even if you already have all the ministry volunteers that you want. At the very least, you’ll have laid the groundwork for recruiting youth group volunteers for the future.