Youth ministry was very frustrating until I realized it’s more of a journey than an experience. My problem is that I wanted instant and powerful results. All I got was disappointment. It’s not that the ministry was a failure (It was anything but that), it’s just that what I wanted was not what we were getting. I was impatient.

Again, youth ministry is a long journey and if you stick around long enough you will see fruit. To produce disciples and bring teens into a deep relationship with Jesus Christ takes hard work, patience andPERSISTENCE. If you are persistent in your ministry you’ll eventually build momentum and see the reward to your labor. Three areas in youth ministry where persistence is key are:

Recruiting Volunteers:There is no silver bullet to recruiting volunteers. It takes a lot of:

  • Meet and Greet
  • Email Blasts
  • Announcements From The Pulpit
  • Phone Calls
  • Invests and Invites

The more you make it a part of your routine and your volunteers the more leaders you’ll recruit. There will be seasons when you get better results than others; however, the key is to continually ask.

Connecting With Parents: No offense, but you are not the first person on a parent’s mind. To bust through the noisiness of a parent’s life you need to persistently call, reach out and connect with them. If you are hosting an event, don’t just throw out a flyer, create a buzz. If you are trying to meet one on one with a parent, set-up the meeting, check-in and then confirm it. Hold them accountable and support them by consistently communicating with them.

Leading Up: If you want your pastor to respect and support you, then you need to make the relationship a priority. To keep it in the front of your mind you need to be persistent when dealing with contention and disagreement. Communicate when it’s hard to talk and shout his praise when it’s not easy. Work through the tension and watch the relationship grow.

Persistence is a key to endurance in youth ministry. It means working through the tension and trusting that God will pull you through. It’s easy to give up, change things around and abandon ship when life gets hard. What you need to do is stand up straight and move forward.

Where else is persistence needed in youth ministry?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)

Email blasts, announcements from the pulpits, and flyers on car windshields are only a few of the methods we have tried when it comes to recruiting ministers.  It can be a painful process because the idea of hearing, “NO” breaks our heart and leaves us hopeless.

If you want to successfully recruit volunteers for your youth ministry you need to KEEP IT SIMPLE.  That means making the process less intimidating and frustrating.  To be successful at this you need to:

Give Them A Test Drive – Ministry can be intimidating, especially with teenagers.  Many reasons people will turn you down is because they think it’s all in or nothing.  Allow them to witness and shadow a night of your ministry.  Sit down with them afterwards and invite them back for another try if they are unsure.  A non committal test run, takes away the fear of signing their life away.

Eliminate Surprises - With the growing need for paperwork and background checks getting involved in ministry can be like taking out a mortgage on a house.  This can be shocking to someone who just wants to serve teens.  Make the process simple and clear by laying out the steps they will need to take ahead of time.  This way they won’t be caught off guard when you say, “Welcome to ministry, now let’s go to orientation and training.”  Clear expectations allow them to walk in confident in your leadership.

Share The Vision – Ideally you want your volunteers to serve once a week, every week for an entire year.  If possible you want them for more than just a year.  That’s a lot to chew; therefore, give them a vision of what happens when they invest in the ministry.  Share with them testimonies, give them a window into your passion and let them know that it’s more than just chaperoning.  Help them see WHY so they can see past the HOW.

Get Their Input – Once they commit and begin serving, follow up with them.  This way they’ll know you are happy to have them on board as a team player.  Not only will they feel included in your ministry’s mission, but you’ll gain insight you’ve never heard before.  Sitting down with them to hear their thoughts will affirm their decision to serve alongside of you.

You need ministers and it will always feel like you cannot get them fast enough.  Be patient and develop a system so that when the mass communication hits the air waves you are prepared to bring them along.  While you will still hear, “NO” from time to time, you won’t make the process as painful as going to the dentist.

What steps would you add?  How do you recruit volunteers into ministry?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)

Its that time of the year! When some of the volunteers that committed to serving this year, committed to leading a small group and investing in the lives of a student decide…. JUST KIDDING! That is probably a bit unfair to say, but it is pretty common time for volunteers to recognize a few months in that they might have bitten off more than they can chew and decide to step down from their role. As disapointing as it is, we need to quickly change our focus and try and recruit someone new to fill that role.

I can remember a time I was meeting with a youth worker who was in serious need of youth leaders after a few leaders on his already skeleton staff stepped down mid-season. He shared a very real feeling of desperation and a feeling is natural and reflected often in the Bible, through people like Moses or David in Psalm 142 amongst many others. Desperation is a part of ministry and I am thankful that I was able to encourage him, pray for him in his desperation as he asked God to bring him new leaders. He was not alone in the hunt the Church had his back, and Sunday after Sunday they announced the desperate need in the Youth Ministry for volunteers. Yet week after week no one stepped up and I have a feeling of why this might be the case.

When I think back to the days in high school when I was a single fella, and what woud I have done if a girl from my class announced that she was single. Not only was she single, she was desperate for a boyfriend, I mean DESPERATE for a boyfriend. Lets just say I would be running in the other direction. Desperation is not an attractive trait, and when I hear that a ministry is desperate for volunteers, my mind starts to wonder why? Is there dysfunction or unhealth? Why does no one want to serve? There are lot of questions that would go through my mind. I am convinced that people are more likely act on an opportunity to serve than to react to a desperate situation. Framing it in a positive light as a challenge and not a problem will be much more invitational because people take on challenges, they avoid problems.

The feelings of desperation are legit, having a complete reliance on God is essential, but be careful how you communicate your need. You want the right volunteer to feel called to serve that is a long term solution, not a plug in a hole in your ministry for a short season.

-Geoff – (Twitter)


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.


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.

Its that time of year again when the search and courting process begins with potential new leaders for next fall. Its an exciting and time consuming process and depending on where things are at in your church, the pool of leaders might be vast and deep, or perhaps you are in a place where its slim pickin’s. But at some point we each have to make the decision regarding the starting age of volunteers. There are several schools of thought around this issue with some like myself, taking on leaders right out of high school and others requiring that leaders be out of the program at least two years. I became a leader when I was 18 and had been a Christian for a year, so my bias is obvious here.

I thought it would be good to hear from the MTDB community and hear what your experiences are around this issue. As someone who takes leaders right out of high school I know first hand there are pros and cons and here are the ones that I have experienced in the past few years.


  • They are typically are people that have been consistent attenders in HS and now have little difficulty committing to being there each week.
  • They have the DNA of the group, they get the vision, know what happens and understand the culture
  • They are familiar faces and often thrive sooner in leading the younger students who have seen them around before
  • They have energy, passion and a desire to lead and be led.
  • You have time to groom them in their senior year as opposed to starting in Sept.


  • Often have trouble shifting from student mode to leader mode or revert back without knowing it.
  • Can be very idealistic and want to change things and challenge decisions with out knowing the reason for them.
  • They have friends still in HS and can get caught up in HS life and drama easily
  • Ability to commit wanes, as they understand the commitment school or work requires.
  • Spiritually young, and lack the knowledge of how to lead / disciple another student.
  • Sometimes make poor choices due to lack of maturity with little realization of the impact it has on students.

So where do you stand on this? What is your policy and why is it that way? 

Geoff Twitter 

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.