Building a team can be difficult, especially if you are in a church where almost all your options for youth volunteers are over the age of 70. I have been in churches like that and I know how difficult it can be. In my first full time position I went the first year with just my wife and I working with the youth. Not because I didn’t want or try to get volunteers but because I just couldn’t. However, even though it is difficult, there are some ways it can be done.
The “easy” way of trying to get volunteers is by putting an announcement in the bulletin, or either you or your senior pastor making an announcement from the front; usually just a general announcement laying out the need and asking for help. This should totally work, right? NOT! I have made the mistake of just relying on this method to get volunteers and found myself asking, “why am I not getting any volunteers!?” In fact, I can count on one hand the number of volunteers in the last 10 years of ministry, at multiple churches, I have gotten from a general announcement. There is a more effective way and here is how it goes.
1. Define who you are looking for
Who would make a good youth volunteer? To answer this question, it is not just the stereotype of a young energetic 20-something who is single and will give rides to 10 students after youth group. While you do want the person to be able to keep up with the pace of youth ministry you also want to make sure that that person…
- Has the right heart for loving students
- Understands the mission and vision for the ministry.
Identify this type of person so you have a basis for who to approach and recruit. If you are totally lost and still have no clue who that person is, ask your senior pastor or another pastor on staff for help in identifying some people who would fit those characteristics.
2. have personal conversations with prospective youth workers.
Even when we make a general announcement we still have that person in mind that we think “I hope they respond” to this announcement. Go talk to them!! People respond much better to a personal conversation inviting them to check out the youth ministry than to a random “come one, come all” announcement. It is easy to blend in or simply write it off as something that is “not for them” when the announcement is given from up front or put in the bulletin. But a personal conversation can empower and connect to potential volunteers. Simply talk to them. Don’t make them give you a decision right then and there but lay out the need, and the reasons why you think they would be a good fit for that need. Ask them to think about it and pray about it and get back to you.
3. Follow up with them.
It is important that you don’t just leave the ball completely in their court and hope they return it. Send a follow up email during the week; maybe remind them with a text, phone call, or Facebook message. Something to get them thinking about your offer and give them a chance to ask any questions they may have come up with regarding the ministry or what it would look like to serve in the ministry. You could also invite them to come and check out the youth group to see what it is like. Still don’t press for a decision but make sure you are reminding them to think about it.
4. Get help recruiting
Another great way to find prospective volunteers is through your existing volunteers. If you have a volunteer who is doing a good job ask if they know anyone else who would be a good fit. People surround themselves with others who are like them. A few years ago I was being pushed by a few churches for their youth pastor positions. I chose one and then had to inform the other pastors I had taken another position. One of the pastors, after hearing that God had directed me elsewhere, immediately asked if I had any friends looking for a youth pastor position. He explained that I was the type of guy they were looking for and people usually hangout out with others that think and act like them. He was totally right, and most of our volunteers who are doing a great job have friends who, if they were youth volunteers, would do just as well. Use your current volunteers as a means of recruiting new volunteers.
Recruiting a volunteer team can be so difficult but is so necessary. My hope is that these tips will help you in your recruitment journey. If you have any specific questions or would like some coaching in this area (or any other youth ministry area) email firstname.lastname@example.org
Todd has been in youth ministry for over 10 years and has a passion for reaching lost students and training youth workers to do the same. He is the founder of Stoked On Youth Ministry, a speaker, author, and pastor. When Todd is not writing or speaking he enjoys surfing, baseball and most importantly hanging out with his awesome wife and three beautiful daughters. You can connect with Todd on Twitter @TheTodd_Jones, Instagram @Todd_Jones or for speaking inquiries visit TheToddJones.com