Youth Ministry - Volunteers

In the last article I wrote for FaithLeaders.com, I discussed that the most important relationship a youth pastor has within the church is with the pastor.  This time, let's discuss his second most important relationship, and that is with his adult volunteers.

I served as a youth minister at Word of Faith International Christian Center in Detroit for just over seven years.  There are volunteers that have been there two and even three times longer than that.  Imagine the influence and credibility that they have with the parents and youth.  A youth pastor's ability to develop and maintain successful relationships with his adult volunteers may determine the degree of success he has in that youth ministry.  We call our volunteers "youth leaders", and that describes them exactly because they really do lead the youth.  If a youth pastor is able to earn the confidence of his volunteers, their endorsement will influence the youth to also trust him.  However, the opposite is often true as well. So, let's discuss some things a youth pastor should do to build and maintain a successful relationship with his volunteers.

  1. Pray for your volunteers daily.  This makes the individuals on your team a part of your daily life, and protects you from seeing them only as tools to get done what you need to get done.  Inform the volunteers that you have committed to pray for them, and ask them to give you some specific things to agree with them about.  When you follow up with them about their specific prayer requests, it demonstrates to them that you actually care.
  2. Take care of your team.  One way to do this is by making sure to include the volunteers in budgeted events.   Deuteronomy 25:4 and 1 Timothy 5:18 both say that we should not muzzle the ox that's treading our corn.  If I planned a pizza party for the youth, I always made sure there was enough for the youth leaders.  If we were going to an amusement park, I built the volunteers' costs into the price the youth paid to attend.
    You also take care of your team by simply being there for them.  Proverbs 17:17 in the New Living Translation says "A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need."  If one of your volunteers experiences sickness or a death in their family, a visit or phone call from you will go a long way. Although our church has a Pastoral Care department that officially ministers to the members on behalf of the church in times like these, I always endeavored to personally reach out to my volunteers as well.
  3. Praise them publicly.  This is a simple act that goes a long way with youth leaders.  Just as their approval helps to validate your leadership, your praise and public show of appreciation provides validation for them.  When the youth see and hear you honor the volunteers, they realize that the leaders carry your authority and it makes the leaders' job a lot easier.

Doing these three things will help you to develop genuine love and appreciation for your volunteers.  This will cause a chain reaction of growth both among the youth leaders and the youth.

This article is written by Minister David John

Minister David John serves as Assistant Ministerial Chief of Staff for Word of Faith International Christian Center, Southfield, MI.