4 Steps To Help Volunteers Grow Into Leaders

We spend a lot of time recruiting volunteers, convincing people to get involved.  Then you finally get them and it becomes about helping them stay.  Why should they stay?  

While vision and purpose are key, how you help them grow is paramount.  As a leader your responsibility is to help your volunteers grow spiritually and professionally.  If all they do is serve they’ll eventually:

  • Lose interest
  • Grow frustrated
  • Make mistakes
  • Stunt the growth of your ministry
  • Limit your effectiveness as a youth minister

To avoid these road blocks you need to focus on their development and that means:


Your team might not grow because you’ve played it safe.  Give them opportunities to lead and make decisions without your input.  Give them permission to step out even if it means failure.

After you give them the opportunity to take risks ask them about it.  Sit down and discuss what went well.  Ask them their motive and set up another opportunity.  


As a professional you have access to resources and opportunities your volunteers will not know about.  Share them and let them have access to the same wisdom and experience.

If there is a training take them with you.  If there is a book read it together.  Let them grow alongside of you.  They’ll begin to value what it is you value, which creates synergy.


Your volunteers want to feel like more than a helper.  Find those you feel have the potential to lead and get to know them personally. Invite them and their family over for dinner.  Do something they enjoy.

When volunteers feel like they you know them they’ll trust you.  When they trust you they are more like to step out of their comfort zones.  They’ll follow your lead and encourage others to move to.


People will live up or down to expectations.  If you are not clear or the bar is set too low people will not grow.  If a leader isn’t growing spiritually talk to them about it.  If they aren’t making improvements address it.

Create consequences and guidelines.  It might sound harsh but it protects the integrity of the program.  If your leaders aren’t growing it’s going to hold back your ministry which will impact the teenagers.

Youth ministry isn’t a program, it’s a movement.  And a movement needs volunteers looking to grow as leaders.  Love them, lead them and challenge them to take the ministry to the next level.

Question:  What are you doing to help your volunteers grow into leaders?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Brian Baudoin

    We tried doing a half-day training/retreat for our volunteers for the first time in the summer. Brought a veteran youth minister in and it went well.

    I’m toying with the idea of doing a one day retreat with our volunteers each year from all our youth/faith formation programs. The problem is that it the first time they were insistent on keeping it as short as possible so they wouldn’t waste their whole day.

    I want to have a retreat that’s focused on bonding/spiritual renewal just as much as training so that they feel it’s worth their time and they can see more purpose and vision to the idea of being on a “team”, and so they can feel like they’re being served, that the parish went out of it’s way to make sure they had a great day

    • Brian,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. It is definitely frustrating when volunteers want an abbreviated meeting. When they say that most of them are alluding to a poor experience with meetings in the past.

      Sometimes it takes time to change this mindset. What we need to make sure is that each time we meet (whether 30mins or all day) that they walk away feeling refreshed and rewarded. Thanks again for sharing.