Screen shot 2013-10-29 at 3.59.07 PMWhen we think about discipleship we all think of different things.

Different methods.

Different books.

Different curriculum.

In each of our contexts we all attach connotations to the term, but the bottom line is whatever we do or whatever resources we use, it all requires our most precious commodity – our time.  And here is where we come face to face with the mountain we have to climb whenever we ask someone to “disciple” those in our ministry.  We are asking for their time.

So, I thought I would give you a few thoughts on how to overcome this challenge.  These are not bullet proof, but ideas I still embrace because they have proven to be effective in my ministry:

  1. Don’t ask people to serve.  I know, that sounds wrong.  But the truth is I don’t ask people to serve in a ministry.  Why?  Well, because the first question they ask is, “How much time is required?”  I never want that question to come across their mind.  Instead, I simply ask people how they are being authentic to their identity as a disciple, themselves.  As followers of Jesus we are all called to disciple, it’s part of who we are.  It’s inauthentic to not disciple.  When we bring it back to our identity, time is the last issue that crosses the mind of the person we are talking with.  Their motivation now is obedience to Jesus, not guilt with us.  Big difference.
  2. Show the value of relationship.  I wrote a lot about this in College Ministry From Scratch, but we ought to always encourage people with how they are impacting others.  This is far more effective than making them feel guilty for how they are not.  People will invest both their time and resources into what they find valuable.  We just need to show them the value of their relational investment.

Chuck

@chuckbomar

volunteer21One thing I can freely assume about volunteers is that they want to help. Other than that I should be careful about anything else I assume. I’ve been working with volunteers for a while and can say I’ve probably had more failures then successes, but through those failures it’s helped me become better at leading volunteers. So I’m writing from my failures in mind hoping it helps.

Making assumptions is one of the worst things I’ve done concerning volunteers. So I thought I’d share a few of my learnings.

  1. Never assume that they understand the cause just as much as you do. – Learning: You must articulate the cause, and your heart and passion for it. Remember they just want to help, and not everyone helping in youth ministry is called to it. So share and help them understand the impact of what your ministry does.
  2. Never assume they are going to take the initiative. - Learning: Take the time before hand and map out what it is you need them to do. When I say map out, I mean be very detailed in your instructions because they will only do what is expressed. For example, once I had volunteers and I gave them the instructions to clean up. Well, they did not do a good job and they actually left boxes and trash because they didn’t know where to put it. You see, I assumed that they would clean the way I wanted them to clean. I also assumed they would break the boxes down and take out all of the trash. The issue is I was clear on the “what” but not on the “how” so they cleaned the way they wanted to.
  3. Never assume they are self-motivating. – Learning : Volunteers need you to be a cheerleader for them as they care for students at either an event, small group or the weekend service. Be intentional about pointing out some small wins to them as well as big wins. Let them know the affect it has on the ministry. Thank them for allowing God to use their gifts and talents.
  4. Never assume they are going to know what to do next. - Learning:  Idle time to a volunteer is like water to oil. Idle time, if not communicated beforehand, can mean an unorganized ministry to a volunteer. They automatically think “didn’t they know we were coming?” Also, if not communicated you can become frustrated yourself thinking no ones doing anything, when actually it could be that they just don’t know what to do next.
  5. Never assume they want to do more than communicated. – Learning: Until your volunteers buy into the purpose of the ministry, assuming they want to go the extra mile could insure they never return.

For me, these assumptions would happen unintentionally. I would find myself playing catchup and having to stay to clean, and redo some of the work I had asked volunteers to do. I had to really evaluate the assumptions I was making and how because of it, I was not being a great steward of my volunteers time. So this is something to think about as you deal with volunteers this week. I know there is more than just 5 and I know I’m not the only one(maybe I am..ha), so what are some assumptions you’ve made about volunteers that wasn’t so smart?

hope it helps

ac



lets talkFInd out the TWO volunteer trainings Kurt and I would do if we could ONLY do TWO trainings each!!!

Also learn two things about us you probably didn’t know. One has to do me surfing and the other has to do with whether or not Kurt reads my blog posts.

 

 

What would be your top two volunteer trainings?

 

hope it helps

AC and Kurt

When it comes to celebrating, I’m not a natural.
I’d be okay to never attend another birthday party, wedding (other than my own kids some day, and even that is negotiable!), or any other “celebrations” that people like to throw. I’m notorious among our circle of friends for my lack of enthusiasm to decorate for Christmas. For a few years, when my kids were really young, my idea of Christmas decor was a one-step process: I’d replace our porch light with a green light bulb. Done!

But I’ve learned that there’s power in celebrating together; especially in ministry. Especially in youth ministry. So we celebrate. A lot.

- We celebrate the 5, 10, 15 and 20 year anniversary of volunteers.
- We celebrate baptisms by making our baptism events feel like parties.
- We celebrate the various “wins” in our ministries by making it a priority to share them with each other.
- We celebrate mission trips by having reunion parties a month after the trip.
- We celebrate the idea of “team” by having Work Together Wednesdays (nobody allowed to work holed up in their office).

When you celebrate, you encourage. And the reality is that nobody gets tired of encouragement.

I don’t know what your youth ministry looks like, but I’m sure there is lots and lots of really good stuff going on…stuff worth celebrating!



Arms

Below is another great post from Scott Rubin….enjoy!

I’m not pretending to be some marathon expert on running; I actually only run a few times a week to attempt to fight off out-of-shapeness. But this week I had a revelation that more serious runners probably all know. What you do with your ARMS actually makes a gigantic difference when you’re running. (wait… there’s a comparison coming … )

I even looked it up online when I got home; it turns out that swinging your arms properly makes a huge difference in how fast you go! (If you don’t believe me, challenge a student to a 100-yard dash… but where you have to keep your arms pressed against your sides, while they get to pump their arms.) For the most part, I live with the illusion that my legs are all really all that matters when it comes to running.

Comparison: I think it can be dangerous to see our role in student ministry like the “legs”… and somewhere deep inside believe that my contribution is most of what matters. How I teach, how I lead, who I connect with. I’m not even talking about forgetting God’s function in all of it … I’m talking about forgetting the enormously significant role of all the volunteers around us! What you do with your VOLUNTEERS actually makes a gigantic difference when you’re in youth ministry!

— Do you give volunteers “real” responsibility in your ministry? Or do they mostly “support you” while you do the heavy lifting? (or the “visible” stuff?)
— Do you recognize the places where volunteers around you can do something BETTER than you can do it? When we invite someone to unleash that ability in our ministry, everybody wins!
— Do you train volunteers to make the most of what they can bring to your ministry? Once you help volunteers understand some of the basics, it’s amazing how they do awesome things that I would never have thought of.
— Maybe most importantly, do you ENVISION volunteers, and help them believe that the “real” youth pastor… is ALL of us!

“DIRTY LITTLE SECRET” alert… WHY wouldn’t every single youth ministry leader invite all the qualified volunteers they could find to come serve students? Oh, we can come up with our reasons:
Sure, it can be tough to locate great, safe people who are ready to invest in students. Sure, it’s hard work sometimes to get them equipped — that could be a part of it. But I think that maybe one of the dark reasons could be that I LIKE TO BE IN THE CENTER OF THINGS! Anybody else?? I love when students come running up to me and say “SCOTTTTTT!!!!!! Let me tell you what happened this week!” But when a student runs right past me towards a great volunteer and yells “DUSTINNNNN!!!! You’ll never believe this!”… I have to be confident enough to celebrate that — and count it as a giant victory!

So these days, I’m reminding myself that the “arms” in the youth ministry race are as important as the legs. And lots of times… they ARE the legs! Up for a challenge? Right now how ’bout you text one of your volunteers & tell them that they’re awesome?! And you can’t run without em! ☺)

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?



volunteers 3

 

Two days ago I interviewed a 75 year old man to come and work with our students.  In his lifetime he has been a missionary in Japan, a suburban High School teacher,  a substitute teacher in an urban school, and a woodworker.  His first language was German, and he waxes the ends of his mustache so it is a fashionable handlebar.  As we talked through what it meant to be a small group leader, and the responsibilities I was struck with how awesome this man was going to be.  It’s clear that he will give his all to the group of JH boys he is going to lead, he even asked if at some point, once he has built a relationship with them he could teach them woodworking as a way of talking about Jesus.

I remember years ago Mike Yaconelli of YS talking about how students need different people in their lives to step in as extended family.  The twentysomethings come along our youth as older siblings, the 30- 40 somethings as Aunts & Uncles, the next step is to be a Godparent, and then a grandparent. Yet, somehow I keep having conversations with churches where they talk about how they need the youth to be led by the young.  They are the ones that are “relevant” and can “relate.”  Then why is it that many of my best volunteers have been over the age of 35? It saddens me when someone is told they are “too old” for youth ministry, worse yet when a team member tells me they should probably step aside and let someone “with more energy step in.”

Have we forgotten that everyone has something to offer when it comes to working with youth?  As Mike pointed out many years ago, each one is needed to surround students as family.  It isn’t about young OR middle OR old.  It’s all of us, together, pouring into a generation.

While we’re at it why do we assume the “younger” you are the more “relevant” you are? If you have lived with a teen you have perspective that is valuable. It’s my 51 year old sister-in-law who will get on the highest/fastest roller coaster in the country, not me- or my 14 year old for that matter.  I just met a twenty five year old who refuses to be on Facebook or learn social media.

Being a great volunteer has nothing to do with age, or relevance.  In urban ministry so often people tell me they have “nothing in common” with the students.  Why not?  Maybe you like the same ice cream flavor or television show. It’s about the willingness to listen and learn and give, not about being “one of the guys.” We are not all the same, and neither are the youth we serve.  The Lord has put something in you that a youth out there needs… no matter what the age is…

Talk to me youth min nation!  What’s your perspective on the “old,” the “young” and the “in between,” serving youth?

 

prepared-businessman1I wrote a post last week listing out 10 things that I had to become ok with as a small group leader. You can read it here. I had a lot of great conversations about it last week. Talking about the post got me thinking about the things I could’ve been prepared for. Although as a leader you must be ok with some things, you also as a leader can be better prepared for other things. So I thought I’d share ten things I needed to be prepared to do as a small group leader.

Set Boundaries – Letting your leaders know that it is ok for them to set boundaries with their students if need be. From experience, you may want to set boundaries from day one in a lot of areas especially these two:

  • Texting and phone calls – I know that we want to be available and reachable at all times, but you want to set some guidelines. For some students this may not be a problem, but for others you could run into all types of issue as the season goes on.
  • Hanging out – You definitely want to spend time with your group outside of the day you have group, but you need your own time to hang with other friends.  You can easily burn out if theres no life outside of your small group. Take a break. It’s ok.

Communicate Smarter - Setting up a group text with your students and an email group for the parents right away will be one of the smartest things you do. Text the students and also email their parents what’s going on. Because there is a huge chance your students won’t share with their parents what you need them to share, until the last minute or when it’s too late.

Inform Parents How You Will Discipline – Set up how you will discipline and inform parents right away. Nothing causes more problems then you as a leader disciplining students a certain way and the parents learning about the how the day you do it. So let them know how you will discipline so when their student tells them what happened they won’t be shocked.

How To Communicate Conflict - You may not always get the email saying that you are the parents favorite person. You may get an email from a parent disapproving of something you’ve said or done. Here is my response to confrontational emails “I’m sorry you feel that way. Is their a time we can talk in person or via phone about this?” email lacks context so whatever you say could be perceived the wrong way. If the issue can’t be resolved, let the ministry know so they can help resolve the issue and let them know sooner than later.

If you have to communicate something tough with a parent do it in person and in love. Bring the ministry in the loop right away.

Let Parents Know About The Sex/Pornography Talk – There are some lessons that leaders need to let parents know they are doing. So the parent can make the choice if they want their students to participate or not. There may be more topics, but sex and pornography are two examples of subjects that parents need to beware of. Tip: send parents your outline so they can have an idea of what will be discussed. This will save the ministry a lot of heartache. We know that the best setting for these issues to be discussed is small group but a better place is also the home . So lets give parents that respect and courtesy.

Not Drive Students – This may seem small but there is a legall limit to how many students can fit in a car. Leaders need to know that the last thing the ministry needs to be doing is explaining to a parent why their son/daughter was in a five seater car with 9 people. Students will pressure and you may seem cool for braking the law, but your breaking the law. Let students know up front that it’s not going to happen.

Set Language Standards - For some students you will have no problem but for some you may have to get a sensor button. haha Let students know up front the type of language you will not tolerate.

Talk About Social Media – This may need to be an ongoing conversation with students. Students need to know that they will be perceived by what they post, like and who they follow and friend. Don’t be afraid to call them out on questionable pictures, statuses and questionable friends or Instagram feeds.

Say No – Sometimes students and parents can take advantage of someone who has set out to care for them the way small group leaders care for them. So leaders need to know that it’s ok to say no. You don’t have to pay for every meal when you go out and you are not a personal taxi. It’s ok to say no!!

Deal With Non-Believing Parents- Your leaders are in a great position to be a witness to the students parents. I actually wrote a post about this awhile back (click here) I’ve seen God do some amazing things in this situation. Tip: Prayer is the key in this situation. Pray for wisdom and opportunities to share the love of Christ with the family. Whether it be through the student or one on one, pray for God’s intervention.

What would you add to the list?

hope it helps

ac