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“I can run a ministry alone,” said no youth worker ever. We simply can not do everything ourselves. Yet, so many times we recruit volunteers in a way that acts like it.

Having been on both sides as a volunteer and recruiter I am more convinced than ever that there are some key ways we can shake a really great unpaid team member. (Notice… large doses of sarcasm ahead.)

Never Communicate Expectations or Just Don’t Communicate Anything Ever

This is super simple. Never tell your volunteers what you want from them, don’t reach out to them regularly and merely avoid being clear on much of anything. Along these lines, use the excuse that you are “too busy” or that you “just aren’t administrative,” when they ask simple questions about logistics. Bring them curriculum they should use the day you want them to teach it, without allowing any space for preparation. Run around like a crazed lunatic all the time without directing anyone. They can figure it out as they go, this is a great learning opportunity for them.

Never Ask Anyone Where They WANT to Volunteer

You have ministry needs. If someone shows up to help, just put them wherever there is a gap, without asking them if they are all right with that. Just don’t bother to empower them or give them ownership of anything in the ministry. Make assumptions based on obvious skill sets that this is exactly where someone wants to give their time. In addition make sure to either raise the bar too high, or too low. It is really helpful to treat someone who is giving their time for “free” as if this is the only activity they participate in. You can also create an environment where everyone sort of stands around with no direction. As a matter of fact just give your volunteers a funky name like “Servants” and then you can treat them like this is the only thing they ever do.

Complain That “No One” Is Helping

Ignore the key team members who always show up, drive, go on trips, or generally pour their hearts out. I mean we are all “doing this for Jesus,” so those that are coming don’t really need encouragement. At the end of the year throw a half-hearted gift at them, and hope they feel like they have done something worthwhile. Better yet just send a mass email saying, “Thank You,” with no personalization. Nope, do nothing. This is best. Make sure you spend all of your time whining how you are “doing this by yourself,” then put an “ad” for more help in the bulletin and keep grumbling that the masses don’t come.

Don’t Bother Offering Training- At ALL- Ever

You can’t get anyone to come to meetings, so why would you want to bother to help your team know how to reach teens better? Chances are they are going to do everything their own way, no matter what you say. Never send them an article, suggest a book or video or take them to any sort of conference (one day, local or in house included.) I mean you have heard it said that those who volunteer believe they are there to support the youth pastor, as opposed to loving teens. You have also heard something about most people who “give” their time really don’t intuitively “understand” youth ministry. Ignore these thoughts. Avoid being creative, or brainstorming with your team ways they would like to be better equipped.

I have done all of these. I have had the tables turned and seen just how frustrating it is when they happen to you. Over the years I have come to learn the quality of volunteers matters more than the quantity. It is possible to keep a team member for a long time. The key is to treat them like the precious jewel they are. Stop making it easy for them to walk away. And remember this one thought: most of the time they will feel guilty telling you why they go, because they do see how hard you are trying so they will make an excuse or better yet- just stop coming and never tell you why.

How do you lose volunteers?

- Leneita

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Leveraging Chaos

 —  August 25, 2014 — Leave a comment

chaosYouth ministry brings with it a built in level of uncertainty, disorder and chaos. While many youth workers feel the need to minimize these aspects (books have been written, seminars taught, and blog posts written to help), I think a better strategy is to leverage them to your advantage. Here are a few thoughts:

Leveraging Chaos

- Many people find that they are most creative in a crisis or under pressure. Use the most chaotic times in your ministry…when your brain is firing like crazy…to think of areas in your ministry that need an extra dose of creativity. When you are problem solving in one area, leverage that energy to problem solve in others, too!

- Make a change! Most people simply try to survive the chaotic seasons of ministry. But when there’s a lot going on, why not add one more thing…like a significant change or course correction. People like smooth sailing, which is why they dislike change. So, making a change when the water is already a little rough oftentimes is the most strategic time.

- Ask for more resources! Times of tangible chaos (high growth seasons, busy seasons, when your church is adding multi-site campuses, etc.) is a great time to ask for more help. Financial help, volunteer help, etc. It’s always good to be able to point to something obvious and tangible as a reason you are making an extra ask.

- Reassess. Use chaotic seasons to make a fresh assessment of things. What is causing the chaos? Is this chaos the good kind (the result of growth, God’s spirit moving in unexpected ways, etc.) or the bad kind (result of poor planning, trying to do too much, doing the wrong stuff, etc.)? Youth ministry is always going to be busy, but are you busy doing the right stuff, the stuff that matters to you, your church and the kingdom (and…do you, your church and the kingdom agree on what that stuff is!)?

Don’t fear Chaos; leverage it!

- Kurt / @kurtjohnston

ControllingChaos

 

 

Want to hear more on the topic of chaos in youth ministry from Kurt Johnston? Download his talk, Controlling Chaos here! 



…and I don’t mean parents. I’m talking grandparents, the old ladies in the women’s group, the crotchety dudes who grumble when students wear hats in the Sanctuary. The answer to the title question? Of course they do!

Can you believe that I STILL run into YP’s who say their counselors really shouldn’t be older than college-age? I consult with search committees who still describe their perfect youth pastor as a guitar-playing, b-ball throwing, surfboard-skimming, young married dude whose wife will also serve FT in the YM (for free, of course).

So as we’re all recruiting volunteers for the new school/youth ministry year, do yourself (and your students) a big favor: start with older people in your church. The secret? Ask them the right questions. Put them in the places they feel comfortable, where they can use their giftedness. Oftentimes, we frighten off potential older volunteers (who have time available and are WAY more dependable than many other vols) by our approach: too fast, too quickly asked, too confusing, too big, etc.

Older people can do more than just bring cookies. Here’s a list of volunteer roles older folks can fulfill in your YM:

1) Closet Coordinator: Every youth room has a supply closet that needs a mom’s touch.

2) Weekly Supply Organizer: Get your SS teachers s what they need by having a team get the SS rooms ready.

3) Garage Sale Gurus: Have a list of upcoming supplies/props the YM will need and put these folks on the hunt.

4) Prayer Partners: Have each student in your YM prayed for daily by an older person.

5) Divine Design: Your youth room is a MESS! Have someone come in once a month and straighten it up!

6) Data Divas: Many older folks are computer savvy. Have them keep your student data/attendance up-to-date.

7) Craft Coordinators: There is a segment of your students who are the creative, artsy, crafty type and someone to teach crochet (or whatever) would be cool.

8) Paperwork Police: Yeah, why not lesson the chaos for the adult chaperones at events or when leaving on a trip by bringing in a few folks to collect the paperwork? Can’t hire an admin? Schedule older vols for a few hours each day.

9) Who-knows-who: Older folks know a lot of people and they know others in your church that can help with what you need. Put them on your recruiting team.

10) ADULT COUNSELORS!: Of course older people can be a part of your team in face-to-faith ministry with students. The best way I can share this precept is from a friend of mine, Amanda Berger, who is the president of a ministry to girls called Soul Sisterhood. She runs “girls only” camp weeks and for the last 2 years, she brought a Camp Grandma on staff and has had HUGE positive results. You’ll hear from her on a few days and then a few days after that? You’ll hear from the Camp Grandma herself. Stay tuned.

Stephanie

 

 

frozenThere is no shortage of parodies surrounding the movie “Frozen.” 

You’ve likely seen your share.

I apologize for sharing another one.

The leadership team at this church came together to create their own, all related to a pastor who is working on his sermon and won’t come out of his study.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScxTsuRMMS0

Cheesy? Sure.

Unnecessary? Perhaps.

I do have a few questions of my own, though:

  • How do you think the church reacted after seeing this on a Sunday?
  • Why?
  • What in your church/ministry could elicit a similar reaction?

My opinion? Without knowing this church, I see a snapshot of leaders who love doing life together. Everyone got involved… and I can only assume you felt that, too. I wonder how they’re nurturing that.

Any applications or desires for your ministry?



5 goals for volunteersEarly in ministry I tried to do everything and not put anything extra on our volunteers. I quickly found that volunteers needed direction and some goals to aim at. When you have a goal, you know what’s expected of you and you aim to hit that target. Help your leaders succeed and give them some direction and goals. Here are 5 targets for your leaders to aim at every time they are with students. Notice I said every time, not just Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights. Every time they are with students (ie. at a game, choir concert, campus visit (careful on the prayer one here), mall hang out, etc.).

1) Learn names – Don’t allow yourself to believe the lie that you are not good with names. Become good with names. Become better at names than anyone you know. I recently did a post on how to remember names better. Names are extremely important, and if you say you are not good with names, you are essentially saying you don’t care to remember the most important thing about a person. Change that!

2) High 5/Pound it – Students need positive touch. I know that may sound weird, but it’s true. So many students don’t receive any touch or hardly at all, or if they do it isn’t positive or healthy. When you see a student, put your hand or fist up and connect. If it gets awkward because they go for the fist and you have a hand up, just grab their fist and say, “Lunch bag!” We usually have a line of leaders at the doors as we open up the youth room high fiving as they all come in.

3) Meet 3 new people – When a student you know has a friend with them, have them introduce you. Get to know them a bit and let them know you are glad they are there. Have a goal of meeting 3 new students every place you go. This is where it will be key for you to be good at remembering names!

4) Pray for at least 1 person – When you are talking with students, they will often give you glimpses into what is going on in their world. If you hear them say something that may be significant, ask more about it. If they are worried about something (stress, anger, sadness, whatever), find out as much as you can. Then ask if you can pray for them right there. Don’t say, “I’m praying for you” and not actually pray for them. Take a minute right there and pray for them. That is something that will stand out to them for a long time.

5) Follow up –  Take notes on conversations you have had. Write down names of students you’ve met and any info you can remember about them. Write down things you need to be praying for. Take notes on what upcoming events they are going to be a part of. When you see them next you can ask about whatever it is they talked about from the last time. That shows the student that your conversation with them wasn’t just something you were supposed to do, but that you actually listened to and cared.

When you have a goal, you will aim at it. If you don’t have a goal, you will hit it every time…you will hit nothing.

Need some help with goals? Check out simplyyouthministry.com and their  BIGGEST sale of the year- The 404040 Sale! It’s 40% off or more on over 300 resources, plus 40 FREE backgrounds for 40 hours! It runs from 6:00 am on Tuesday, June 10 to 5:00 pm on Thursday June, 12! Lots of tools available there to help you with your volunteers!

- Erik with a “K”

 

Led-Zeppelin-fourAs I continue to love on students and family through pastoral care, there are some things that I’ve had to become knowledgeable about. Because students and their families are dealing with these issues and in order for me to really care for them, I need to educate myself. So I thought I’d share few of the issues with you. I am by no means an expert in any of the issues I list. My goal has been to know enough to understand what it is I’m dealing with so that I can respond better.

  1. Mental Illness - There is such a huge stigma when it comes to mental illness, because we automatically associate mental illness with a lack of smarts. Therefore, people are afraid or ashamed to talk about it. Well, I had to educate myself on the topic, so I could view and pray for my students struggling with mental illness in the right light. Sometimes I think we can tack on things and misdiagnose students based on what we think we know about the student and what’s really going on. I always push parents to seeing a professional, but that doesn’t negate my responsibility to walk with the student and family through the process. The crazy part is that out of all the kids that are struggling, only 20 percent are being diagnosed and treated. It makes me want to know more, because I most likely have students and families who are dealing with it on their own.(NAMI)
  2. Self-Harm – The Huffington Post came out with an article not to long ago that said Self-Harm was becoming main-stream thanks to the internet. I’ve definitely had more conversations concerning this topic then I would like to in my own ministry. I had to become knowledgeable about it so that I could minister and care for our students who are struggling in this area. Because even though I send them to see a professional, they still need support as they go through this journey of healing. Again, I need to know what I’m dealing with because I want to be able to care and pray for my students very specifically. I created this for my leaders(click here).
  3. Suicide – It’s the second leading cause of death for ages (10-24). And the third leading cause of death for college-age and youth (12-18). There are 5,400 attempts a day by students in grades 7-12. What’s interesting is that 4 out 5 teens who attempt suicide give warning signs. Which makes me want to know what to look for, and have some guidelines on how to respond.(TJF)
  4. Abuse – In youth group a lot of things come out concerning students. I want my leaders to know what to do in case abuse is found out. Even more than that, I want them to know the signs to look for in students who they think may be being abused. There are mandated reports so it’s crucial they understand they are bound by law to report abuse.

I think sometimes we shy away from these types of issues, because it’s like opening pandora’s box. But in Matthew 9:12 … Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Studying Jesus’ ministry here on earth leads me to believe that He was all about blowing the door off of Pandora’s box. He spent more time with those who struggled than any other people group during his time on earth. I had to open my eyes to the fact that the majority of my students are probably struggling with something. And I can’t be so occupied with doing ministry that I neglect those who are in need of being ministered to. I have to care about these students just as much as God does. They need community and people praying for them just like everyone else and maybe even more. Just a thought! What are some other things we need to educate ourselves on so we can minister to our students and their families better?

 

Hope it helps,

AC



iStock_ValueI’ve learned that with every program or event that we do in youth ministry I think one of the areas we can always improve on is the way in which we make things better. The feedback we receive from our leaders is priceless. We use that info to make next year better for them and our students. I’m sure there are a lot of you who do the same. So for some of you, I’m preaching to the choir.

If this hasn’t been something that you’ve been doing, I would humbly advise you to start. It’s a value in our ministry that leaders serve with us and not for us. Also, we have to recognize that we don’t have all the answers. And being in youth ministry doesn’t make you an expert at it. So know that you can also learn from them. Remember, they are focusing on one task, so that already gives them more time to think about it then you. It also gives them the high probability of becoming better at it than you. Which is something you should take advantage of and not fear.

I try to incorparate my volunteers input either during the planning process or by doing a debrief. And it has been super great and has helped me a ton in a lot of areas. So I thought I’d share my top five reasons for doing so, in hopes that it would help someone else value their volunteers the same.

  1. They Feel Valued - Giving them the opportunity to give feedback that may change the way things are done, says a lot about the trust you have in them. It also raises the value they bring to your ministry.
  2. They Grow In Ownership - When they have a say in what they do, they grow in ownership of the ministry. Because they are no-longer serving for the ministry, they are now serving with the ministry.
  3. They Make The Ministry Better – When you allow your leaders to take part in the planning process, you are making the ministry better. Because even if you don’t get super great ideas from them, you will at least get good ideas that could morph into super great ideas. Also, just bouncing ideas around is good for you. Especially if you are the only paid youth worker in the ministry. You need to plan and debrief with someone.
  4. They Become Great Advertisement – Word of mouth is the advertisement that can make or break your ministry. And I’ve seen it happen both ways. I’ve seen leaders recuit others based on their experience in the ministry. I’ve also seen the opposite happen. The worse thing you can do is make a volunteer feel like hired free help. The volunteer that feels valued will sing the praises of the ministry, because they’ve become a stakeholder in its success. (Check this post out for more on this topic.)
  5. They Stick Around – When I was just a volunteer I wanted to be somewhere were they valued me. There’s no longevity for a volunteer that feels like hired free help, but there is when your volunteers feel valued and needed. Listening to your leaders is valuing them, and it’s also showing a need for them and their wisdom or experience.

We just had our end of the year debrief meeting/dinner with our small group leaders. It was super great because they were given the opportunity to be heard, and to ultimately make us better. Allowing our volunteers to serve in this way, has done wonders for our volunteer ministry. And I hope it does the same for your ministry. And if you are planning and debriefing with your volunteers, leave a comment, and let me know how. I’m always looking for better ways to do things.

Hope it helps,

AC

Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1Let’s Talk Youth Ministry Video Blog is BACK!!!!!!!!!!!! And we are posting a NEW SHOW EVERY WEEK.

 On this week’s show:

1. Nominate a Youth Ministry in Need!!

2. How to Finish Strong with Small Groups!!

3. Apps/Tools That Save TIme.

Hope it helps,

Kurt & AC

@kurtjohnston / @aaroncrumbeyac