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I am a closet youth ministry academic. In my 20+ years of youth ministry I continually strive to grow, learn, and mature. One of the benefits of reading, studying, and growing is that you can pass down what you’re learning to the volunteers in the ministry so that many can benefit from it. I’ve been studying and reading a LOT about volunteers. There is a ton of great writings/trainings/articles/books on the subject. A lot has been said about what a volunteer needs to be successful. The writings have been from the staff or ministry point of view. I haven’t seen much (if any at all) writing from the volunteer’s perspective about what they want/need/seek to help them be successful.

So I think some healthy conversations with our volunteers would be very helpful. I’ve entered into these conversations with the volunteers within our youth ministry. The following questions have been the most helpful, maybe they could be helpful conversation starters for you as well…

The first two questions seek their perspective on the ministry (and not just their performance).

Question #1.  From your perspective, what are we really good at in our ministry?

Question #2. From your perspective, what could we improve on in our ministry?

The following two questions seek their perspective on what would help them be more sucessful in their role

Question #3. From your perspective, are we using volunteers within our youth ministry in such a way as to be completely faithful to God’s calling? If not, what would you add, change, or delete?

Question #4. Can you think of anything, anything at all, that could help you be more successful in your role within the youth ministry?

Question #5. What can I personally do, not do, or provide for you that would help you in your calling within our youth ministry?

The conversations I’ve been having have led to minor changes in the way we do things, in the way the volunteers are trained and encouraged, and in the way we minister to the youth. It’s important for you, the paid professional, to be teachable and open to all types of praises and criticisms.  

It’s important that we provide vision, strategy, and leadership. But it’s also important that we include the volunteer’s perspective in all aspects of ministry.

Brian Edwards
Director of Youth and Young Adults
Trinity UMC
Columbus, Oh

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