I previously wrote about a season where I’ve lost a majority of volunteers. You can read about it here at YM.com by searching “Behind Youth Ministry Leadership Door # 3”.
I wanted to do an update about what the process & experience has been for our ministry.
From December 1st to February 1st I was on my own campaign trail. I shook hands, waved, sent letters & asked verbally for support all for the hope of CHANGE. A change for the student ministry I lead. The votes came in and I received the support of 6 people who committed to serving weekly with our students.
Since all these leaders are brand new to student ministry and two have never served anywhere in our church, my ministry training as gone back to the basics. I had to retool our training, communications, and even dug through that old file on my desk that I haven’t touched in almost two years that has all my ideas, tips, and meeting notes for “rookie volunteers.” I’m not gonna lie, for myself this process has been a little painful but not without some subtle wins mixed in.
It’s been painful cause I’ve had to slow down and remind myself that these leaders truly are green…rookies…newbies. They are in need of being shown what healthy youth ministry in our context looks like. They need a lot of emails, encouraging notes, and follow-up conversations. They are asking a lot of questions and are sharing their insecurities and fears about working around teenagers.
Through this season there have been a few reminders for myself during this process. I realized I got comfortable with my old crew of volunteers and got a little lazy with communications, trainings, and keeping a high standard on the volunteer role. I also have a new “type” of volunteer crew base with the majority of the new volunteers having a more restricted time allotment that they can give. This has set a standard that “meetings” need to be short, effective, and effective for everyone’s time. I need to communicate well in advance when we will be gathering so everyone can plan for his or her personal calendars.
But there has also been some huge “wins” during this new process! The six new leaders have teamed with the five veteran leaders and are learning from one another. The new leaders have turned into cheerleaders by sharing their highlights about working with students to other staff members, small groups, and even to their own kids. I’ve gotten compliments and emails from people I’ve never met about the “great things they are hearing about our ministry.”
Another win has been with having new volunteers with eager hearts to serve asking them for ideas and thoughts on how they’d like to best use their time. They’ve given ideas like encouraging each other to set a reminder on their iPhone to pray daily for a specific student for a week. Not every idea has worked the way we hoped but we are risking as a team for the sake of students coming to know Jesus. One idea that I initiated and has worked has been uploading a weekly 2-3 minute training video to YouTube, emailing the leaders the link, and then through email feeds having conversations about what people are learning. This will NEVER replace our face-to-face meeting times, but it’s been a way to keep a regular conversation going, and leaders have responded well to the weekly reminders.
This season hasn’t been the smoothest but I see a ton of HOPE in the future about the return investment these leaders will make into the lives of our students for the Kingdom of Jesus.