Early on in youth ministry I had several volunteers, but most of them appeared to be ineffective. It started out as disappointment and then turned into frustration. I started to take back control and do it all myself. I burned out.
We all want volunteers. They are supposed to:
- Help us with our ministry needs
- Extend our capacity
- Share the burden
The problem is that you aren’t giving them what they need to succeed. Your volunteers are more than warm bodies and glorified chaperones. Your volunteers are there to bring your ministry to the next level. And, in order for that to happen they need a:
A part of youth ministry is disappointment. Volunteers will quit when you are already short staffed. Teenager who are growing in faith will hit stumbling blocks. You’ll have parents no show after you’ve spent hours putting together a workshop for their benefit.
While you are allowed to be disappointed and angry, you also need realistic expectations. The goal in youth ministry is to CHALLENGE and ENCOURAGE. The problem is when we set people up to fail and discourage them instead.
To communicate and set realistic expectations you need to:
Losing a volunteer is never easy. It does not matter the reason because it can always feel personal. The question you need to answer is, “Is there something I could have done to prevent them from leaving?”
There are some situations that are completely out of our control. When life happens and people change it’s only natural to move on. It’s in those situations where you need to make sure the person does not feel guilty for leaving. But, then there are the situations you can control. What about them?
The reason a volunteer will leave your ministry is because:
I didn’t always get it right. For many years I just needed bodies. I wasn’t looking for the right people or a solid community. I just needed numbers. While filling up holes in your ministry team is important, it’s not as important as building the core.
Last night we rallied our leaders together to kickoff another season of youth ministry. I love these events because they not only get the year started right, they are also a chance to invest in your ministry core.
Teens had to be there. The activities were too long. I spoke with no point or direction. Our youth ministry program format was perfect for driving teens away. Something had to change.
Maybe it’s your first year in youth ministry and you’ve walked into a mess. Maybe you’ve been in the same place for a while and you’ve hit a rut.
You are disappointed by the attendance. Volunteers are hard to come by. Things need to change. If you are looking to create, tweak or change your youth ministry’s format be sure you: