Before I was a Youth Pastor, I was a volunteer in the same ministry I work in now for a decade, loving and serving High School students week in and week out and pouring myself into them and trying to point them to Christ. It was a passion, to see them grow in their Faith and grow as people, learning to be in the world and live a life for Christ. It took time and effort to be a part of, but it was life giving, and having the opportunity to see God moving in my small group was a privilege.
The Bar has always been set pretty high in our ministry when it comes to expectations of our team but I am sensing that it is time to consider how to raise the bar again to a level that I think is unapologetically high, but attainable, and it all starts at the top.
Don’t ask for more than you would give: In the first 7 years of being a volunteer at our Church I missed Youth 3 times, which I recognize is extreme. But the reality is that if I am going to ask my team to prioritize their week around investing their time at our program week after week, its important that I am able to model the high standard that I ask of them.
Volunteer like they do: Youth time is not work time. I ask our volunteers to give up 6 hours of their week including our weekly program and connecting with their students mid-week. If I am going to ask them to give up their free time to serve our students, I am willing to do the same and don’t count our youth night as paid time but as volunteer and shows that you value their time as you do your own.
Students deserve the best: Warm bodies are filler at best, but as the spiritual leaders of our flock, they deserve the best volunteers you can find to lead small groups, worship and any other event. They need Christ focused adults who model a healthy spiritual life and spur them on to do the same and our time with these students is too short to settle for less than the best. Allowing people to serve half heartedly can’t not only be discouraging to other leaders, but detrimental to their students when your committed leaders are constantly filling in the gaps each week. Recruit and train the best leaders you can find.
Make Time For Leaders: If we ask our team to connect with their students during the week, then I need to make time to connect with our leaders. Whether it’s a coffee or a McDonalds breakfast, face-to-face connection, encouragement and discussion goes a long way to keeping your team engaged.
God honours commitment: I truly believe that God honours commitment, and that we can and should ask our volunteers to be 100% in, that their Yes be their Yes. There is nothing more disappointing than a small group leader fizzling out half way through the year, but outlining and modeling the expectations will go a long way to building a culture of longevity in ministry. Longevity encourages longevity and some of the most fruitful youth ministries I have seen have been lead by Pastors invested long-term in the lives of students.
Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.