The Art of the Volunteers Process
As a I mentioned in my blog about Developing Volunteers I have struggled in the past of being a lone ranger even when I have a
great volunteer team. I’ve come to figure that they probably tolerated me because they loved doing youth ministry so much.
The volunteer process is an art form and it is up to you to make this a beautiful piece of art or a an ugly one. Once your volunteers have committed to the youth ministry and you have done your do-diligence with the paperwork, checking references, vulnerable sector police check has been collected and your interviews have been finalized. You volunteers are now placed in the right roles but then what do you do with them? How many times should you meet together during the year? What should you talk about when you get together. Should your volunteer gatherings be formal or informal?
Training is an important part of building a confident, competent, and committed team. But don’t make the mistake of assuming that a well trained team is automatically a good team. Our advice? Focus on building chemistry more than on training skills. The 9 Best Practices for Youth Ministry by Kurt Johnston & Tim Levert
A youth ministry cohort I’m leading, we have been going through the above book and the following points about volunteers really stuck out to our cohort from the chapter entitled Developing Volunteer Leaders.
Youth Ministry Overview: you need to clearly and regularly communicate with your volunteers the ministry programs, goals, vision, values and direction. This will keep your youth workers invested in the youth ministry by knowing these details. Your volunteers have expectations for you and you must balance that when you are communicating an over view of the ministry you are also showing them your expectations for them.
Youth Culture Understanding: Regularly send out links to great websites to your volunteer team to some great sites. Some websites and speakers I would recommend are; Center for Parent/Youth Understanding by Walt Mueller, Digital Kids Initiative by cpyu.org, PluggedIn by Focus on the Family, (our cohort adapted this).
Counseling Students: Help your adults filter through what is and is not appropriate to counsel.
Putting Yourself in Their Shoes: Work your leaders through an exercise that takes them back in time to their own teenage years. As teenagers, what were their struggles, fears, hopes, parental issues, and other big issues?
Preparing a Bible study: Often the things we take for granted are the things most needed by our volunteer team. I (Jeff) have struggles with this for years. I would have conversations with volunteers and when they explained a struggle they were having I would think in my head, “REALLY!?! That is basic youth ministry knowledge and practice.” I found this thought occurring in my head many times before I started to help my volunteers. They were telling me some important things, I just wasn’t listening.
Social Networking with Students: The single most powerful thing an adult can give students is their presence – at sporting events, recitals, concerts, family gatherings, and so on – but social networking allows them unprecedented connection points with students that should be utilized. Jeff: But be careful is you are a jr, high volunteer because social networking could be uncomfortable for parents and organizations.