Been talking a little bit about our youth ministry volunteer process since we have a key leader in transition on our team and we want to make sure the DNA and spirit of our group is intact after she’s gone. Here’s what our process looks like – from beginning to end:

We go to as many different arenas in the church as possible to find volunteers. When it’s time to recruit, begin with prayer and go to the places where your best potential leaders are. Talk to groups and talk to specific individuals. Beware of the temptation to commit the seven deadly sins of volunteer recruiting.

Once you’ve made the ask, make sure you have an application for them to fill out. Make sure it is somewhat comprehensive while not being defeating, but discouraging enough to weed out most of the poorer applicants from the start.

Included in the application is the consent for a background search. This is absolutely critical. No one serves with students unless they’ve been professionally screened. The potential volunteer pays the nominal fee for this to be completed.

After the application and interview, we take some time to get to know them. In many churches, you know the potential volunteer already, but take the time to talk with them specifically about what they’re getting into. Share you heart, vision and make sure they have their questions answered, too.

Once they get the green light up to this point of the process, we will assign them an area of ministry. Usually this is revealed during the interview process – sometimes it is where we have a need (like a small group leader) or based on availability (like an event leader) or passion (like a weekend leader). Ideally we would put in 3 and 6 month check ins, but this is less formal in our setting and we just try to catch up with them as we can as they get acclimated to the ministry,

I’ll post part two tomorrow! What’s your process, or what needs clarity from ours? Let me know in the comments.


I just read my friend Neely’s first book – 99 Things Every Girl Should Know.

It’s $5.99 from Group Publishing and would make a perfect gift for the girls in your youth ministry. Neely isn’t afraid to give practical advice about identity, boys, relationships, culture and faith. I’m proud of her, and excited to finally get a chance to read her work. Neely is a champion for identity in Christ for young woman, and I think that message comes across strong in the short read. If you’re looking for a nice book to be able to hand female students who are struggling with their identity/girl issues or just want to give them some encouragement in the journey of becoming a Godly woman, this book would be a great choice.


One of the powerful new trends I’m loving is how our students are using Facebook in friendship evangelism. They are sharing their faith and love for Christ with their circle of friends online. For the You Own the Weekend series, students took the series graphic they made for their school’s week and proudly displayed it as their profile picture. Pretty incredible way to get the word out about your student ministry. Maybe something in there is transferable to your church, too?


Several weeks ago I had the chance, along with Thom Schultz, to go to Conroe, TX and join St. James Episcopal Church in their celebration of 30 consecutive years of mission trips. 30 years… Statistically that’s longer than most people’s careers and even marriages. The coolest part of this church’s story is that there is a man that has been on all 30 trips. Wow…

As I sat there that night and listened to the tributes and stories, watched the slide shows, and talked to members of the church – I became aware of this under-current of grace that permeated this church’s ministry. The stories were about lives touched, the ministry to those in need, and God’s working in each and every person. They are a youth ministry and so there were stories of jokes and laughter and pranks but those didn’t dominate the conversation. The work of God and Grace was the dominant theme.

How I wish that for each of our ministries. Stories of grace…

There is a lasting image in my mind from that night. After the dinner and the speeches and the large group photo – small groups of people began to gather together. I could tell by dress and age that they must have been in youth group together at the same time. I saw a young single mom talking to friends. I saw married couples laughing together and remembering. I saw older adults, who must have been adult chaperones, congratulating each other for surviving. I saw Grace… 30 years of Grace.

30 Years of Saint James Youth Mission Trips


Neely McQueen —  March 28, 2011 — Leave a comment

Photo from PostSecret

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I love their vision statement…”You were created to love and to be loved.”
They have a great list of resources with numbers and websites that could be helpful to you and to families in your ministry.
Check out their sweet website!

This worship or lesson idea is low prep – but? h impact. Can be done for a lesson study time with the youth group. To kick it up a notch, share it with others in a worship service after your group prepares it.

Holy Week Vignettes:

The basis of it is like the old game, “Freeze Tag” or “Statue.”? Pick out several key points? of the Passion Story. Do this as one group or divide into smaller groups, one per how ever many points of the story you chose to emphasize. (I usually do 5-8). It could also be done with each group doing more than one scene.

Give your groups a copy of their part of the Gospel which tells the scene they’ll be working on.? Ask each group to study their part of the Passion, discussing what it must have looked and felt like. Ask them to? create and? practice putting themselves into a “freeze frame” scene of their part? of the story.?

After each scene has practiced, have someone read the total story. (I usually borrow from all four Gospels and have it typed up on one sheet for reading. I also give each group a copy.).? Seat your groups so they can see? the other groups do their scenes as the story is read.? At the right point of the story, each group will strike their freeze frame for the duration of the reading of their part. ? ? Set the whole thing to a great song played quietly underneath the reading? and you have a heart-warming lesson? your kids have experienced from the inside out.

Have them practice the whole thing a few times to make the flow smooth, add a spotlight for effect to each scene,? ask your audience to close their eyes while each scene is being struck (I always teach the audience to “close curtain” and “open curtain” -their eyes on the reader’s command)….and you have a fabulous live vignette of the Passion story of Christ. ? ?


It doesn’t happen all the time, but every once in a while you will get one or a few students that have a concern about some element of your youth ministry and want to talk about. These are not conversations I look forward to, but I have had enough of them that I can share the steps I use to get through it and keep the leader-student relationship intact.

Listen: The student who is coming to see you has likely thought long and hard about this conversation, so when you meet let them speak. Makes notes if you have to, the more information you get, the more you have to work with as your respond. The student might be expecting you to just dismiss them so hearing them out will be very disarming and allow a great conversation to follow.

Is it Biblical?: Now that you have heard the student’s concern about the program, are they highlighting something we are doing that is contrary to scripture? This is a great question to ask the student and chew on with them. It might put them on the spot, but it drives home the point that our goal should be to have a Youth Ministry that functions in accordance to Biblical principals. The majority of the time, student complaints are a reflection of taste and personal preference and that you are not running the youth group to their desire and if this is the case, remain calm and proceed to step 3.

Articulate the vision: Perhaps they don’t know why you don’t have the latest Skillet album playing every week when students are arriving, or that having acoustic worship as opposed to a full band means that the Worship team has less opportunities to serve. If you ask me to explain the intentional elements and reasoning behind our youth services, you better be sitting down because I could take an hour. The students don’t know all of that, and when you share why you do one thing and not another they appreciate the insider look at why things are done a certain way. While you are at it, share with that students where God is moving in the area they are concerned about, they might be surprised to hear it.

Recap and clarify: They have come to you with something they think might be wrong; make sure that you have not confused that student with Christianese Pastor Talk. This is the time to prove that you listened but reiterating their concerns and summarizing your response to it. This is really meant to make sure that they don’t leave frustrated for feeling unheard because you may not agree with them, but you cared enough to hear them out and explain why things are not changing.

Thank them: Sticking your neck out does not come easy to everyone and for a student to make time to come see you and share something they are passionate about is a big deal. Make sure you thank them, not only for their time, but for their passion for the youth ministry and willingness to talk to you and not to talk to all of their friends instead (they probably did talk to their friends about it, but verbally giving them the benefit of the doubt will go a long way). You don’t have to agree with them to appreciate the feedback/criticism, take it and be thankful.

These sort of conversations are not my favorite, but are a necessary part of being a Youth Pastor and if done well, are amazing growth opportunities for students and ourselves.

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. Want to get in on the fun? See how right here.

Rented a few games this week (and got to enjoy a little time off watching the kids with my wife away at our annual Minister’s Wives Retreat). Spent some time with the kids playing videogames on the Xbox 360 – beat Tron: Evolution (C-) and Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (A+). Good times!