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Recruitment Strategies: Finding Capable Small Group Leaders For Youth Ministry

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My disclaimer:  I am really biased.  I attribute all these strategies to Chap Clark , Fuller Youth Institute, and Fuller Theological Seminary.  They really helped me understand why non-parental adults are so important in the teenage spiritual formation process. I cannot thank them enough for the influence they all had on me.  I made sure to test their content, and it works.  I know for a fact that it has worked for many other youth workers and churches across the country.


One of the biggest challenges in youth ministry is finding good adult leaders.  Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for how to get great adult leaders. But there are 3 guiding strategies.

Research indicates that:

(1)  Students are extremely lonely.  Today’s students are experiencing systematic abandonment.  Basically, adults have left students to navigate life by themselves.

Quotes from HURT (PS Hurt is my Adolescence Bible.  If you want to better understand the mindset of kids, read HURT)

“Today’s adolescents are, as a lot, indescribably lonely” (p. 69).

“Midadolescents believe that few if any adults genuinely care about them” (p. 68).

“Adolescents have suffered the loss of safe relationships and intimate settings that served as the primary nurturing community for those traveling the path from child to adult…The postmodern family is often so concerned about the needs, struggles, and issues of parents that the emotional and developmental needs of the children go largely unmet” (50).

(2)  Students need more non-parental adults involved in their mid to late adolescence journey (ages of:  12-24).  In youth ministry, the standard student – leader ratio should be: 1 adult for every 5 – 8 students.

2 Assumptions About Leader Recruitment:

1)  You, the youth worker, will need a lot of non-parental adults to help raise the next generation of students.

2)  God’s people are called and compelled to serve.  We approach everyone with an incredible opportunity to work with the next generation.  Convince everyone why working with students is so important.  A lot of adults in our churches always thank us for working with the students.  So ask them if they want to help.  Give them a simple opportunity to help.  Also don’t just look in your church for adult leaders, go outside (universities, etc.).

3 Strategies For Finding Leaders

Pray to the Lord of the harvest: The Lord is the one who draws leaders into our ministry (Matthew 9.38).  I think a lot of us forget to actually pray that God give us great leaders for our youth ministry.  Such a simple practice, but yet all of us forget. Spend a hour a week praying that God will give you some more adults to help.  Sometimes He responds quickly and sometimes He waits.

Follow every lead the Lord gives you:  Relentlessly go after every possible lead. Write a list of potential names.  Make personal contact and meetings a priority.  Set up a meeting on their time.  Dress accordingly. Ask early, ask often, and follow every lead.

Treat people well:  Take care of your current leaders.  Health breeds health. Your current adult leaders are gold!!  Never underestimate their abilities and perspective.  Rely on them a lot!!  Think about it…. people normally want to be a part of something that is healthy.  So if they see health and wholeness in your youth ministry staff, more than likely people will be attracted to the youth ministry and might want to help!

I would recommend reading  these two posts for further info about adult leader recruitment:

Youth Ministry Adult Leader Recruitment

8 Viable Tools To Help Build A Sustainable Youth Ministry:  An Interview with Mark Devries (Author of Sustainable Youth Ministry)

About Jeremy Zach

Orange XP3 Specialist | Youth Worker | MDIV | Hot Sauce Addict | Dr. Dre Beats Lover

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