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Youth Ministry 101: Recruiting Volunteers

There never seems to be enough around and recruiting them is like trying to convince them to take out a second mortgage on their home or buy a new car. It seems like everyone in the church wants a vibrant, growing youth ministry, but not many are willing to roll their sleeves up and be a part of the process. Getting adults to buy into the vision and commit to youth ministry involvement can be challenging. Here are some tips that may prove to be helpful.

1. Preview night It’s the test drive of buying a car. Ask your would-be volunteer to come and check things out. This way they can get a feel for what your ministry is like and how they can best fit in. This can serve as a great entry level for those who may be reluctant to go all in. Chances are, if they come a few weeks and just observe, it will increase their likelihood of committing to the youth ministry. However if they decide that it’s not for them, then everyone will be better off in the long run.

2. Shoulder tapping Don’t leave the recruiting process up to bulletin announcements or pulpit pleas. Be relational. If you are asking adults to invest in the lives of your students then you need to invest relationally with the adult. Personal invitation goes a long way it shows that you care and that you think they have what it takes to make a difference.

3. Incremental involvement Jumping in the deep end of youth ministry can be scary. People like to ease into situations that require much of them. Leading a small group can be intimidating for someone who may not have a lot of experience and or Bible knowledge. Incremental involvement can help individuals wade in the shallow, find their place, and gain some confidence before jumping into the deep end of involvement and leadership in student leadership.

4. Time off You can avoid any resistance by limiting one’s time to serve before taking some time off. As youth ministry flows through the seasons and cycles, so too can be the rhythm of your adult volunteers’ commitment. Avoid burnout and make the time demands more appealing by giving your volunteers regular time off.

5. Give them reason Check out this post from Jeremy Mavis. There might be a variety of reasons why any sane adult would willingly give up a couple hours of their time every week to attempt to disciple middle school and high school students:

  • Laughter -Teenagers say and do some pretty goofy things. Perhaps some people volunteer because they love to laugh.
  • Insanity -Teenagers have a tendency to say and do some pretty weird things. Perhaps those who volunteer are insane.
  • Agenda -Teenagers like to do and say some odd things. Perhaps the volunteer has an agenda to fix an entire generation and developmental category. Good luck.
  • Need To Be Liked - Well… teenagers say and do some awkward things. Perhaps if a volunteer needs to be liked by someone and they think a “simple” young teenager can fill that void, well… that’s just awkward.
  • Share the Gospel - Teenagers don’t seem to have control over what they say and do. Perhaps adults volunteer in youth ministry because they believe that God loves all people, uncontrollable teenagers included, and desires to save all people, awkward teenagers included, and that living life in dependence on the Holy Spirit is possible for all people, odd teenagers included, and no agenda, desire to be liked, insanity or fodder for laughter will preclude weird or goofy teenagers from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

6. Pray This is not a flippant last point. As youth leaders, you should be actively praying that God would lead individuals to help you reach and invest in the lives of this teenage generation. Jesus said the The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” Luke10:2