Getting the right volunteers in your youth ministry is key to your success. I am learning that your ability to recruit makes or breaks the longevity of a youth ministry.
If all buildings and equipment were totally destroyed, but we still had our people, within ten years we would have rebuilt everything, and be more successful than we ever were before. -Howard J. Morgens, Former CEO of Procter & Gamble, 1957-1974
I would like to share my youth ministry recruiting process:
1. Pray – Pray…and do some more prayer. Your pray is simple: God please bring adults who care for kids and care for you—NOW! Some seasons God will bring your youth ministry a lot of leaders and some times He give you none. Don’t get discouraged if you have no adults who are interested. The number of adult leaders does not indicate the health of the youth ministry. Although if you are not getting a break, you may need to answer the question to why there is no interest. Pray like crazy until something happens.
2. Relational Connections – Tap into your network of friends. Hopefully you have friends or people you know outside of youth ministry. Recruiting people you already know is huge because you already know what they are about. Cold call recruiting is when you advertise your leader need publicly. Some times this is really effective and other times you will attract the wrong people with the wrong intentions. Be care of the adults who want to use youth ministry as a platform to communicate their passions. Adults need to first start with a caring attitude towards kids before they have the right to give them a lecture about their theological interest. Also volunteer at other local ministries, colleges, non-profits, schools, and athletics. In order to get volunteers you need to volunteer.
3. Ask Early, Ask Often – Earlier you ask a potential adult volunteer the better. Put the idea of helping out in youth ministry in their ear, so they can wrestle with it. Youth pastors never want to go on a recruiting campaign asking everyone because you are desperate for help. Coming across as desperate is not the best way to go. Plus getting the right volunteers on the bus means the process needs to move slow. Worst case scenario, the potential volunteer says no. ** I stole this idea from my interview with Sustainable Youth Ministry Interview with Mark DeVries
4. Invite – It never hurts to ask…. hey would you be interested in working with students? I think you would do really well with students. What do you think? Tell ya what come check it out for a few weeks and if you don’t like it no worries and if you like it we can talk. Some times a simple invitation is all you need to get the ball rolling. In my experience people are flattered you asked them. Always make sure the people you invite have thoroughly prayed about it and have consulted their family about their future involvement in youth ministry.
5. Evaluate – After the potential leader has been exposed to the youth ministry, set up a meeting time to discuss what he/she thinks. At this point give them the adult volunteer application and ask for references. After they have completed the application give them a spiritual gift and personality test and discern the leaders passions and gift set. Two free personality tests here and here
6. Empower – Take your new leaders’ passions and gift set and intentionally create environments for your leaders to thrive in. Start small. Give your new leader a little authority and leadership responsibility and see how they do. Give them opportunities that are designed for them to unleash their passions and gifts to the students. Always publicly praise leaders when they do a great job!
7. Train – Meet and talk weekly, train monthly, and debrief quarterly. It is the youth pastors job to equip and train this new adult leader to be current on youth culture and how to be the best youth leader possible. Make sure to give each leader specific performance standards or expectations and give them training and feedback.
8. Re-assess – It is imperative to re-assess your leaders involvement, successes, and failures. Most likely your new leader now sees their involvement as work and not fun anymore. Inspire, motivate, and challenge them to move past their difficulties. Also affirm that working in youth ministry is tough work and will not always be “fun”. Brainstorm together how they can turn their problems into solutions. Your new leader will need you as the youth pastor to come alongside them and help them navigate their frustrations. They need to know you are fighting for them. Too many times youth pastors are so excited to train that we forget to check back in to see how their new “trained” leader is feeling and doing. Design communication channels between you and your leaders so they can always feel free to vocalize their frustrations and failures and even success with you. Youth pastor need to know that the first place a volunteer works may not be the best for him or her. So do the hard work of reassessing with volunteers to fit them with their gifts and passions.
I think every youth pastor needs to get that recruiting, motivating, and retaining great adult volunteers will not only deepen our youth ministry relationships, but it will strengthen and sustain our youth ministry to finish well.