It’s hard to recruit an adult into youth ministry; however, to keep them for the long haul is another story.  I would like to say that everyone that served with me in my first year is still with me today; but, that would be a lie.  In fact there is only one person that has stuck around for the last 9 years.  Fortunately, that trend has changed and the turnover is much lower today.  THE PROBLEM is that ministers were leaving because they did not feel value.  They felt like they were treated like doers and not leaders.

If you want your ministry to grow, you need to take the volunteers you have and give them the opportunities to lead.  You can’t just wait around for the perfect leaders because they may never come.  Instead you have to look at opportunities to build your ministry depth.  That’s done when you:

  • Take A Risk: Doesn’t matter if you ask them to hand in a resume or if you pick them out of a hat, when choosing a leader you are taking a risk.  To take a calculated risk it’s important for you to develop parameters and steps that will allow them to grow as a leader.  That means giving them room to fail.
  • Give Over Control:  In order for a leader to grow, they need opportunities to lead.  Give them a project, an activity or event to run.  Not only will it give them confidence as a leader but the understanding to what you feel as the youth pastor.  This will allow them to understand the work that goes into reaching the vision for your ministry.
  • Equip Them With Resources: You need to set your leaders up for success.  To make that happen you need to give your leaders resources to educate them on ministry and materials that they need to perform certain tasks.  This means understanding how and where they need to grow.
  • Step Away: You can be the biggest obstacle to your leader’s development.  While you think you are giving them control you could still be micromanaging.  Encourage your leaders to come to you with any questions and then trust that they will follow through on the invitation.  This means allowing them to fail.  It means giving them permission to run the ministry in “their” way.  By stepping away and allowing them to lead you give them the most important gift as a leader, trust.

To build your ministry depth you need to equip, motivate and empower leaders.  They will extend your reach and influence.  They’ll help you create more capacity in your schedule.  When you grow leaders you build momentum behind your movement.

How are you empowering and growing leaders?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)

I love my volunteers.  I have a great group of men and women who give so much of themselves to the students, myself, the church and God.  When I see them investing in the next generation I’m filled with joy.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had a perfect streak when it comes to recruiting and keeping volunteers.    I’ve had a few people who are full out committed at first and then never show up to a single small group.  There have been grown ups who have said inappropriate things around the students because of carelessness.  And then there are the volunteers who are consistently late and showing up unprepared.  When this happens, something needs to be done.

Addressing a volunteer’s commitment and expectations can be awkward and painful.  Your mind says, “Get rid of them.” Your heart says, “I need them.”   And your stomach is in knots.  So what do you do?

Before you decide whether to can or keep that volunteer, try these options:

  • Reassign Them: It’s possible a volunteer is serving in the wrong ministry.  I’ve had large group ministers who should be small group leaders.  People who were better with kids than teens.  It happens all the time, someone responds to your invitation wanting to help you out not thinking, “Is this the right ministry for me?”  Before you reassign a volunteer make sure you help them discern their transition.  Walk with them through this journey so that they feel confident it isn’t about their lack of skill it’s just misplacement.
  • Give Them A Season Off: Even your volunteers need a vacation.  Unfortunately, they might not recognize the need so they overcommit and burn themselves out.  As a youth minister one of your main responsibilities is to oversee the health of your volunteers.  If they are acting slow, or frustrated discuss with them about taking a couple of weeks or months away from the ministry.  Be sure to check in with them during their Sabbatical.
  • Follow Up With A Review:  Reviews and evaluations are done in the professional working world and the same should be done in your ministry.  Reviews help the employer and employees reevaluate the position, productivity and  address any serious issues they might see.  Set-up a review process with volunteers who are struggling and you’ll find it easier to tackle the tougher issues before it’s too late.

Addressing volunteer concerns is never easy.  You grow with these men and women who have sacrificed much of their time to be with you; therefore, it becomes personal.  If addressing a minister about anything serious be sure to partner up.  If it’s with someone of the opposite sex make sure your partner is too.  In the end if you have to let them go, you know that you’ve given them plenty of chances and options.

How do you address minister problems?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)