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



Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1Let’s Talk Youth Ministry Video Blog is BACK!!!!!!!!!!!! And we are posting a NEW SHOW EVERY WEEK. We’ve added a bunch of great new things to the video blog. One of the things that I’m super excited about is the fact that we are giving resources away. Watch to find out how. Send Questions to: Letstalkyouthministry@gmail.com

On Today’s Show:

  1. Chick Fil a On Sunday?
  2. Who Kicked a Teenage Girl?
  3. Parents: In Or Out?

 

Hope it helps

Kurt & AC

Wondering how your ministry measures up? Doing better, worse or equal to the church down the street? Feeling the pressure from your church’s board to perform? Here’s #2 in ways to measure whether your youth ministry is hitting the “sustainability mark” or not. (For the attendance formula, see the post from 3/18/14.)

1 Adult Volunteer for Every 5 Students: This means the “face-to-face,” consistently present type of team members. Usually this covers your Sunday school teachers, small group leaders, choir assistants, and youth group adult volunteers – anyone who your students see on a regular basis. To give them the most relationship for the ministry buck, it means consistent interaction from those called to serve. In my observations around the country as a Senior Consultant for Ministry Architects, this is the number reason why a “too frequent” rotation of adults isn’t nearly as beneficial to the spiritual nurture of your students as adults they see 2+ times a month. So many youth today have enough “revolving door” adults in their life, it doesn’t help when the church is just one more place where relational roots can’t grow deep.

When counting your volunteer ratio, this generally doesn’t cover those wonderful support volunteers who serve dinners, drive, work a sign-up table, etc., unless they’re there every week in that role. Support volunteers have a valuable place in your ministry, but aren’t considered in the 1-to-5 since their participation is more infrequent. This also doesn’t cover paid staff like interns, the pastor…or you.

So here’s the math and its easy: You’ve got 20 youth who regularly attend one of the church’s ministries. A healthy target number for adult volunteer team members is 4, plus you as leader and any other staff.

Next up? What your ministry budget should be. Watch for it in a few more days…

Stephanie



logo

If you get paid to do youth work, you are the exception, not the rule.
If you serve in a church of more than a few hundred people, you are the exception, not the rule.
If you are provided any sort of budget from the church for your youth ministry, your are the exception, not the rule.

I’ve always wanted to figure out a way to help members of the Youth Ministry Nation who serve in small, rural, urban and underfunded youth groups…and I’m SUPER EXCITED about a new ministry that does just that!

Youthworkerdiscounts.com exists for the sole purpose of giving away youth ministry resources to small youth groups that otherwise couldn’t afford them.

When you become a member of youthworkerdiscounts.com (only $20 per YEAR) you will receive tons of discounts on thousands of everyday goods and services (restaurants, movie tickets, hotels, Disney World, Disney Land, Amazon, etc.) AND $10 of your membership fee will go directly into the fund to provide small youth groups with $500 worth of resources!

Go to youthworkerdiscounts.com, become a member, nominate a youth group…and let’s start helping the little guys!

help+wanted

Recently in a youth ministry seminar the presenter asked the question, “How many of you feel like you have enough volunteers in your ministry?” One guy raised his hand. The rest of the room wanted to punch him in his smug, little, “I’m awesome” nose. Because almost nobody who leads a youth group feels like they have enough volunteers, a popular discussion when we get together is sharing ideas to help persuade/recruit/guilt-trip/trick/entice folks to join our youth ministry team.

I’d like to share with you the world’s easiest way to get new volunteers: JUST ASK.

Ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, ask. And when you get rejected, ask.

* Bulletin announcements are fine, but not as good as an ask.
* The senior Pastor pleading from the pulpit is great, but not as good as an ask.
* A youth ministry booth at the annual ministry fair is fun, but not as good as an ask.

Who should you ask? Everybody. If there is an adult who loves Jesus and likes teenagers, ask.

Who should do the asking? You, your current volunteers, your students. Believe it or not, the most effective asks usually come not from the “paid spokesperson” (you), but from the “satisfied customers” (current volunteers and students). When a teenager approaches an adult and asks if he/she would be willing to help out in their youth group, it’s tough to turn down! when a current volunteer tells a peer that serving in the youth group is rewarding, and worth the time commitment, it makes a powerful statement.

Don’t say somebody else’s “no”. I first heard this from Bill Hybels. Too often we assume somebody is too busy, uninterested etc. so we say “no” on their behalf without ever actually asking them to serve. Don’t assume. Don’t say somebody else’s “no”.

There are probably more people in your church willing to work with students than you think. You just have to ask!

In my next post, we will take a look at some strategies that will help make “making the ask” a little bit easier.



thermostat

Many people believe that leadership is a science; that there are rules or irrefutable laws that apply to every leader, all the time and in every situation. I’m not one of those people. I believe leadership is more art than science. BUT, even art has some rules, guidelines and principles that apply which is why one person’s art is magnificent and another’s is horrific. A good artist learns the tips and tricks of his craft. She is constantly evolving and growing in her skills. The same is true of a good leader.

Today, want to share one tip, a “trick of the trade” of leadership:

A good leader knows when to be a thermometer and when to be a thermostat. Let me explain.

A thermometer exists solely for the purpose of identifying the temperature. That’s it. It doesn’t set the temperature, it just reads it. As a leader, you ALWAYS need to be a thermometer. One of your primary roles is to “read the temperature” of any situation. And part of the art of leadership is knowing whether the temperature is okay, or if it needs to be adjusted.

A thermostat exists to adjust the temperature. As a leader, you OFTEN need to be a thermostat and adjust the temperature. When things are too hot, you cool the situation down. When things are too cool, you turn on the heat.

The art of leadership (and it’s not always easy) is to determine, in any given scenario, whether your role requires you to be only a thermometer or if you need to be thermostat. There’s not a scientific, irrefutable law of leadership that determines which is appropriate; it requires an artist’s touch.

5imagesI had the privilege of hanging out with some our volunteers and doing some training recently. As we were talking and just hanging and swapping stories about students, it really got me thinking about how important our volunteers are to our ministry. We are definitely a million times better with them! Hanging with them got my mind going and I started to think about 5 things I never want to forget concerning them. I want to continue to do these things better and better and better.

Empower - I’ve learned that the more you empower and train your volunteers, the more you can give certain responsibilities of the ministry away. You actually create the capacity to grow healthier when your volunteers are trained and empowered.

Teach to communicate - If your ministry leans heavy on small groups, then your volunteers need to know how to best communicate to students. Your life group leaders will spend way more time with students then you, so equip them to teach well. Now, by no means am I saying that you have to turn them into world renown speakers, but they do need to know what you value when it comes to what’s being taught. Giving them curriculum is not enough. It’s like giving a gun to someone who’s never shot one before, and telling them to shoot a soda can off a roof. They need training and guidance on how to communicate God’s word.

Involve – One of the worst things I believe you can do to a volunteer is under utilize them. I learned that I have to stop thinking of volunteers as hired help and think of them as a part of my team. You will be surprised of the skills your volunteers have and are ready to use, if you acquired about them and used them. I’ve learned that when you are all in with your volunteers in terms of involving them as a team, they will be all in with using their skills, talents and resources to move the ministry forward.

Value – Volunteers stay where they are valued (not just appreciated). The best way to show a volunteer that he/she is valued is not by just simply showering them with gift cards and thank you notes (which by the way are super important and shouldn’t be under valued at all), but you show how much you value them by how much you invest in them. Here are some examples of investing in volunteers:

  • Grabbing coffee
  • Bringing them along to a conference
  • Asking them to share with younger volunteers
  • Training them
  • Letting them run a portion of the meeting
  • Caring about their personal life
  • Caring and knowing their families
  • etc…

The truth is, we invest our time in the things we value. So I’ve learned that if I invest in my volunteers, I’ll see more stick around longer.

Appreciate – While volunteers don’t do what they do to be appreciated, it’s a must that you show your appreciation to them. Your appreciation to your volunteers communicates 3 things:

  • It communicates that they are important to the ministry.
  • It communicates that they are making a difference.
  • It confirms their call to serving where they are.

It’s our job to appreciate our volunteers. Make it a rule of thumb that however you decide to show them appreciation take it up another level.

Now, I know there are definitely more then five so what I’m I missing or what would you add to the list?

hope it helps

ac