You already know that your volunteers are a crucial piece of your healthy ministry. That’s why you spend so much time identifying, training, and developing awesome volunteer leaders.
But what are you doing to make sure your volunteers are really cared for?
Remember, your volunteers are susceptible to stress and burnout, just like you are. They also have important relationships with students, just like you do. That means that if a volunteer leaves your ministry, they’ll leave behind some saddened kids, and now you’ll have to start finding and developing a new person to fill that spot.
But, if you exercise good care over your volunteers, there’s an excellent chance they’ll be there for the long haul. That’s what you want.
Here are four (fairly) easy ways to make sure you take better care of your awesome volunteers:
1. Regularly send notes of encouragement.
Did a volunteer do something exceptional? Tell him. Is it her birthday or anniversary? Celebrate with her. Did you spontaneously remember the Cheez Whiz incident from last fall’s retreat? Send a note to your volunteer so you can laugh about it together.
It’s not exactly groundbreaking, but sometimes the easiest way to tell someone you appreciate them is to actually tell them.
2. Create volunteer teams that are larger than they need to be.
Your leaders shouldn’t feel anxiety if they have to miss youth group because they’re going to an out-of-town wedding. But if you are always tight on volunteers, then that’s exactly what will happen.
You want your leaders to be missed when they’re gone, but they also need the freedom to take a session off without guilt.
3. Pray for and with your volunteers.
This seems like a no-brainer, but when a volunteer reveals a problem, stressor, or struggle, they are asking you for your prayers. Yes, add them to your prayer list.
But as a leader (administratively and spiritually), be willing to place your hands on another person and to lift them up in prayer. It won’t take long until you become comfortable with this, and you won’t believe the impact your prayers and presence can have on your volunteers.
4. Say ‘no’ for your volunteers.
There are always a few volunteers who will say ‘yes’ to everything. I love those volunteers. So do you.
But be careful about overdoing it. Your volunteers need to have healthy home lives and careers in addition to helping with ministry. Don’t impose your own program so much that it starts to affect everything else.
Just because someone has the inability to say no doesn’t make it right for us to take advantage of that.
What else do you do to make sure that your volunteers are well-cared for? I’d love for you to share your input.
Aaron Helman is on a mission to help end the epidemic of youth worker burnout. He writes Smarter Youth Ministry to help youth workers with their biggest frustrations – like leading volunteers. He is also the youth minister at Firehouse Youth Ministries in South Bend, Indiana.