football2

It’s football season! It’s on everyone’s mind and so it’s an analogy I like to use when it comes to working with our support team in ministry.  Imagine your team has shown up for their first game.  So you, the Coach says,  “Alright, the goal today is to make a touch down.   Get the ball from the other team and meet me in end zone as quickly as you can.”    You take your place on the sidelines, while everyone else looks confused.   “What game is this again?”  One asks.  “We are wearing yellow and they are wearing red, does that matter?”  Another chimes in.   “Do I knock people down if they get in the way?” The questions keep coming.

Those of us who are the “leader” are usually in the game because it is intuitive. For the rest of our “team” this is not always true. We aren’t just there to coach the students, and sometimes we forget.  That is why position, processes, and practice are vital to your volunteers.

  • Position:

Not everyone wants to teach a Bible study.  There are those that are relational, some are administrative,  others like to organize details or make meals.  Yes, yes and yes as far as who is needed.   We have a tendency to merely look at the position and take the first warm body that comes along.  This will not always beneficial. Leadertreks (leadertreks.com)  has some amazing tools that help you take a different look at placement.  My favorite tool in this area is the “Sweet Spot,” assessment.  This takes less than 5 minutes for a potential volunteer to fill out.  It helps them see where they should serve,  who the students that they are most comfortable with and where they feel they will be most useful.  When we put people in the right position then it helps the team to work towards the common goal.

  • Process:

Job descriptions are step one.  It details exactly what and who you are looking for.  Over communicating expectations is step two.   Processes help everyone to know they are on the same team, on the same field, at the same time.

  •  Practice:

Your team understands who they are and what is expected of them.  Still they want to know HOW to play.  This is where training is indispensible.   This can come in many forms.  Try having quick debriefs on youth meetings. I follow a method I learned from Doug Franklin.  The “3’s”.   3 things that went well.  3 Challenges.  3 Action steps to work on the challenges.    Once a quarter try offering a deep evening training on a practical “how to” that the team has been asking about. .  Send out an article or web link that I think might be helpful as you come across it. Obviously, there are so many ideas of ways that you can train people.  If you are reading this site you are a learner yourself. Make the time and the expectations on everyone that this is a “must” that helps them with all that they do.

These are some of the elements that help build a stronger team,  heading to the same  goal.    It can be easy to think,  “of course we all want to win together.”  Any good football team knows that position, process and practice is what takes you to the super bowl.  In this case it is producing a generation that takes over our job…

What are you doing for your “team” to teach them the game?

Just finished reading a pre-release copy of Darren Sutton’s new book, Everyone is Called to Youth Ministry (releases tomorrow). It is a great book with a simple premise that in reality is a great resource to challenge you to think creatively how to attract, recruit, train and encourage volunteers in your youth ministry. Excited for you to check out this new resource from LeadersTreks!

If you’re a full time youth worker, you have a lot on your plate. Parent meetings, planning a calendar, budgets, teaching, big events, small groups, keeping your senior pastor in the loop, and oh yeah, building relationships with students. Even if you had multiple people teaming up to take on all the responsibilities of the youth ministry, you still would not be able to get everything done. You need a team, but often building that team seems impossible.

In this bold new look at recruiting and training quality adult staff and volunteers, Darren Sutton challenges our thinking on who is called to serve in the youth ministry. Hint: it’s everyone. Darren’s humor will draw you in, and his wisdom and experience in youth ministry will challenge your perspectives on who to recruit and how to train them. This book will help you look everywhere for adults who can passionately serve in youth ministry. After all, everyone’s called to youth ministry…they just don’t know it yet.

JG



Kickoff for the fall, there is nothing like it.  Everyone is focused on getting plugged in, connected, signed up and registered.  The summer dreams have come to an end, school is back in session and the thought, “Here we go again.” races through your mind.

For some of us the beginning of the year stresses us out and for others it excites us.  There is so much to do, so much to get done and then BOOM! The year starts and we are off.  It’s like a marathon where the anticipation before the race is killer; however, once you get moving you settle down.

Kickoff is a season that can race by; however, it’s also a season that needs to be embraced.  On top of fun memories of moon bounces and wild games, it’s really a season when you can strengthen your foundation.  It’s a season when you need to:

Recruit New Ministers – The best time to recruit other ministers is when the program is in full swing.  That way potential volunteers can:

  1. See the program in action.
  2. Talk to actively serving ministers
  3. Ask questions they might not have known to ask if inquiring during the summer

When you recruit new ministers right after kickoff you’ll have a positive excitement that will be contagious.

Invite More Teens – It makes sense to invite someone to an event before it happens; however, your ministry isn’t an event.  While you want to build up hype and momentum before the program begins you’ll want to put more afterwards.  By continuously inviting teens to your program your creating an open enrollment feeling.  So many times we give up on a class or a program because we miss the first session.  Ministry should be treated like any relationship, where you can step in at any time.

Build Margin – Once the year begins we feel our margin slip away; however, there is no better time.  You should be letting your leaders loose, let them fail, succeed and problem solve.  As the point person you should be able to take a step back, observe and take in the experience.  As soon as the year gets going, slow down and find that pace because it’s going to be a long year.

Kickoff is not the end of summer and it isn’t just the beginning of your ministry year.  It’s a mile marker that you should utilize to grow stronger.  Look for the opportunities in every situation and continue to move forward.

What other opportunities do you see during kickoff?

Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. You can read more great youth ministry articles and thoughts on his exceptional blog Marathon Youth Ministry.

This week we’re talking volunteers! A key part of any youth ministry is the leadership team. If you’re doing ministry all alone, you’re going to bottleneck growth or burn out—take time to build a great team and you’ll never regret it.

But building a great team can be a big challenge! Today we’re going to blast out a few bullet points that we think will help you surround yourself with a great group of like-minded youth workers:

Recruit Well
• Ask God to lead you to the right people within your church.
• Look for key places to find people—men’s/women’s Bible study groups, the college ministry, leaders moving up with their younger students, etc.
• Resist the urge to just make a blanket announcement; you’ll get “zeros” who will hurt you in the long haul or “heroes” who are already volunteering for everything and are overcommitted.
• If you have a red flag at any point in the process, pass on that person. Better to have a difficult conversation before than have to clean up a mess after.

Place Well
• In part of your interview, talk through their passions and gifting.
• Personality plays a big role in success of using volunteers well. Factor in personality.
• Place people based on their available time; if someone is stretching to be a small group leader, it might be too much commitment and you might want to suggest another role.
• Finally, place them according to their gifts and availability…not according to your needs!

Train Well
• Prepare your people for common challenges they will encounter in their role serving students.
• Promise (and deliver on that promise when necessary) that you’ll be there when they face something they don’t feel super prepared for.
• Resource them with articles, books, and back-pocket guides to help them group as a leader.

Encourage Well
• Remember their birthdays, send encouraging notes, etc.
• Be present when you speak to them; pouring into them is, by extension, pouring into your students.
• Gather regularly for celebration, training, and story-telling.

What else needs to be done well in order to build a great team? Add your thoughts!

This post was written by Josh Griffin and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.



In thirty years of youth ministry, I can honestly say I’ve tried every recruiting style possible. Take a look at these four fall-back recruiting approaches:

The “Cruise Director
‘Come join the youth team! Free trips, free food, hotels, fun and you’ll have a great time! No, you won’t have to chaperone at lock-ins!’”

The “Beggar
‘If you don’t join come on this trip, we’ll have to cancel it and lose our $2,000 deposit. We really, really, really need you! PLEASE???????’”

The “Lone Ranger
‘Hey, great having you on the team! Here’s your job description. Thanks for doing your part. You know? Let me do that for you…the kids are used to it being done a certain way. Oh, and I’ll do that, too. Why don’t you just watch for awhile?’”

The “Do-It-Yourselfer
Building a team? What’s that? Nobody wants to volunteer so I don’t even ask.’”
See yourself here? (I’m a combo of the Cruise Director and the Lone Ranger.)

Don’t do these!

Instead, I’ve learned a little something from Jesus’ example when he put a pretty awesome team of 12 together. I call it, “The Five I’s:

Invoke: Bring the Holy Spirit into the process anything. Go somewhere and pray.

Identify: Listen for who the Spirit lifts up. Identify those people He reveals would be an asset to the team. Don’t assume anyone will say “no.”

Invite: Talk to them one-on-one and ask them to pray for a week before saying “yes” or “no.”

Initiate: Let them come and check things out; give them a peek into what you’re asking them to do.

Inform: Hand them a volunteer packet so they can make a well-informed decision. Info would include a specific job description, volunteer guidelines, a ministry covenant, program purpose statement, 12 month youth ministry calendar and something fun, like a $5 card from Starbucks to enjoy a hot cuppa while reading and praying.

That’s how I do it, anyway. Hoep this helps!

Stephanie Caro is a youth ministry blogger at Small Church Youth Ministry and has written a book on the subject you might want to check out, too.

How to Build a Great Team

Josh Griffin —  October 13, 2011 — 1 Comment

One of the earliest mistakes I (Josh) made in ministry was being a lone ranger. And while we specifically addressed that topics a few weeks back — we have received lots of questions about building a healthy team, specifically this question: “Where do I start?”. This week’s issues of SYM Today will help get you started on the exciting journey of building a great team. Here we go:

1. Start with Prayer
Before you begin the to tackle the huge risk of forming a team, ask God to show you the criteria you need to look for in potential leaders and the places in your ministry you need to build some leadership infrastructure.

2. Create a Hit List
If you could get anyone in your church on your leadership team — who would you go after? Which parent stands out as a great mentor and is raising their own kids well? Which young college age-student is showing incredible promise as someone who God’s hand of favor is on? Don’t walk around church lurking and mumbling as you write furiously on your clipboard! Just think through the best and the brightest and begin to pray specifically for them.

3. Make a Personal Ask
There’s nothing wrong with a blurb in the bulletin or an announcement from up front. But the reality is that the shotgun approach often brings a lot of collateral damage. You have to wade through a bunch of people to get to the one you really wanted. So while you are taking broad shots with bulletin announcements, use a laser beam approach and ask people directly, person to person. you might be surprised by the results…it is much tougher to say “no” to a direct ask than it is to say “no” to a bulletin insert.

4. Embrace Rejection
There’s nothing more discouraging than being rejected. And I (Kurt) would know since I had a lot of it from the ladies in college. But embrace the “no” as a sign of God’s involvement in this process — He is the one building the team and sifting through the members of your church for the volunteer(s) that is perfect for your ministry.

Want to build a great team of volunteers? This a great way to start! We’ll see you tomorrow with some thoughts about where to take them once they’ve said yes.

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.



Hey everyone from NYWC 2011!

Thanks for making our youth ministry workshop on small group leaders so fun this weekend — I enjoyed meeting many of you and here are the links from the 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leader trainings I promised you this weekend:

JG