Too many youth workers are running at full capacity with not enough margin to care for themselves or their team. Some of it is self-inflicted in our own brokenness, some of it is the product of a church culture skewed to an unhealthy extreme. Either way, we have a responsibilty as a church to make sure that we are healthy and balanced, not screaming down the path to burnout. If we’re not careful, we could model exactly what not to do to our team. If you want to keep your team and yourself healthy and for a long time – here are a few ideas mixed in with more questions than answers:

Training
Every individual is responsible for their personal growth, but the church culture should share in this pursuit. Does your church regularly offer and/or require volunteers to participate in training events? Is there access to plenty of resources to grow on their own? Is there a culture to share what you are learning with others? People who aren’t trained will eventually grow tired of trying without success, will be crushed under the weight of success, or quietly search for someone who will care for them AND care for what they do. Well-trained people stay longer.

Coaching
Coaches identify unseen weaknesses, opportunities and motivations. To often people are left in isolation when they need the benefits of an actively engaged coach. When was the last time you nudged someone on your team toward an unseen opportunity? How often do you take time from the pace of ministry and poured into your players? You have so much wisdom, use it to pour into your team! People will in return value the coach and the coaching.

Protection
If you want to keep your team together and build youth ministry longevity, you have to protect your people. You may need to protect them from an overreacting parent or even from their own destructive behaviors. You have to protect them with sound policies that focus on caring for them and for your students. Some failure is part of the learning process and healthy, too much can drive someone away or disqualify them for good. Knowing how much to give someone, when to press and when to let up, is an art a leader must master to keep his or her people.

These are critically important for your volunteers – but they’re important for you, too! How are you being trained, coached and protected?

JG