Getting Young People to Volunteer in the Youth Ministry
Properly balancing your volunteer-to-student ratio can be difficult. For smaller churches, it can be difficult to keep volunteers committed over the years to maintain a healthy leadership culture in your youth ministry, and for growing churches, it can be difficult to properly staff all youth events with enough leaders. This is especially the case as various different types of events come up: youth retreats, Bible studies, youth group gatherings at the church, small groups at peoples’ homes, Sunday mornings, etc.
If you’ve worked in youth leadership in any capacity, you know how powerful it is to have young volunteers involved with the ministry. While it’s great to have older leaders with wisdom and other skillsets volunteering in youth, having younger people leading sections of the ministry brings a completely different dynamic and energy into the mix, and I’d argue it’s incredibly important for keeping students excited about attending.
If you’re having trouble keeping or acquiring young people to help lead your church’s youth ministry, here are a few tips to consider:
Create a Ministry for Your Youth Leader
Many of your older adult volunteers are excited to help out because they have kids in the youth ministry who they want to support. They consider the church their home church and have been going every Sunday for the last several years and have no plans to move elsewhere.
But youth leaders are much more volatile. They are growing up and maybe only recently graduated high school. College is already happening or coming in the near future and the chances of them leaving the church to find their own community is quite high. But, while some volatility in youth leaders is expected simply due to place of life, there are absolutely some things you can do to get youth leaders excited about staying.
Start a ministry for your youth leaders. The same way that students get a time to hang out together, be encouraged by you, and connect on a deeper level, you should be offering the same for your younger leaders.
Create a time every other week or once a month where you can all get together and do something fun. Make room to pour into your leaders and make sure you know how they’re doing in life. Have honest conversations, ask them what you can be doing better, and make them feel valued as a part of the leadership team.
Creating this type of “ministry” for your younger leaders will keep them excited about being there and investing in the student ministry.
Actually Ask People
So many youth pastors follow a “wait and see” mentality when it comes to leader recruitment, but sometimes younger people need someone to reach out and ask them for help! Especially when it comes to high school students.
If you have recent grads or even current high school students who are juniors/seniors that you think would make great leaders in your middle school ministry, set aside a time to ask them. Chances are they’ll be honored you reached out and will be excited to contribute to your younger students’ ministry!
Every ministry needs a correct ratio of students-to-leaders. Acquiring young people as student leaders is a great way to balance that out, however, student leaders are less inclined to stay if they don’t feel like they are an integral part of the ministry.
Think of legitimate responsibilities that you can delegate rather than just “being present” during youth events. Do you need younger volunteers to step up to the plate to lead worship? Give them some responsibilities with selecting songs and recruiting band members. Do you need help finding local missions activities for the group? See if you can have a few student leaders work together to find options.
Delegating responsibilities isn’t something you do to reduce your own workload. It’s something you do to empower others. When your younger volunteers are offered the opportunity to step up in leadership, it’s a time for them to grow in their abilities and to give back to a community they are already passionate about.
About the Author
Chris Fleming is a professional musician from Minneapolis, MN who has played with artists such as Big Daddy Weave and Jason Gray. He is actively involved with the CCM worship scene and has contributed as a drummer, music director, song writer, and producer for various worship artists and churches locally and nationally. Chris serves as the Creative Director at Motion Worship, helping to write various blog posts and tutorials on production, stage, Ableton, music, design, and tons of other topics.