General Ministry
Josh Griffin

Andy Lawrenson sent in this great article about volunteers and building a team. Good stuff in here, would love to add your thoughts to guest post week here on MTDB as well just and send in your article.

I often have conversations with youth leaders doing youth ministry all alone. This is a bad place to be. For liability reasons, but more importantly for effectiveness in ministering to the needs of students. Perhaps a lone youth leader can effectively minister to a handful of students? Jesus led twelve and really invested and focused on the lives of three. We may think a little more highly of ourselves than we ought if we believe we can minister to the whole youth group no matter the size.

The question I am asked is, “How do you build a team?” In addition to the great youth ministry books out there with some wonderful practical help on building a team, here are a few of my thoughts:

Start with One, find one person in your church’s congregation that you feel from your knowledge of them that they would be a great start to a team approach, perhaps a parent of a youth, a college student, or even an older adult. Start with one and then approach them and invite them personally. Pleas from the podium rarely have results. It’s harder for them to say “no” to your face.

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Expectations, list your expectations of your team members. Make sure to clearly define what will be expected from them in their position on the team. It is frustrating to have a job without a job description so make sure that for your team members know their job description. If their ministry is to simply sit with students during youth group make sure they understand to sit “with” the students. Give them clear guidelines on dealing with disruptive students.

Training, most of us receive the bulk of our training in youth ministry while on the job often the same goes with our youth ministry team members. Taking the whole team to an annual conference would be great but for many this is not feasible. Look for opportunities for training within driving distance, one-day seminars. Buy books that your team members can check out and read. Use e-mail and send our team links to great youth ministry articles and then ask for the team to reply with their thoughts. Utilize team meetings and mix in 20 or 30 minutes of training.

Reward, find some fun ways to express your thanks to your team. Get together and put away the agenda and have some fun together as a team. If ministry isn’t fun then ministers won’t last long in the ministry. If the youth ministry team is having a great time serving together it will be a magnet to others in the church.


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  • Great article. Some additional thoughts based on what Andy says here:

    Start with One
    Start with one and then approach them and invite them personally. Pleas from the podium rarely have results. – We never make public pleas, from the pulpit or in the bulletin or on the prayer lists, etc. I think are students are more important than just the “we’ll take anyone” approach. Besides, we need to protect out kids and public pleas can open the door to all kinds wanting to work with our young people.

    It’s harder for them to say “no” to your face. – This is true, but let’s make sure that we leave them plenty of room to say “no.” We ask our potential volunteers to spend 2-4 weeks obseerving before committing. The after committing, we talk regularly all the time and sit and evaluate how things are going about 3 months in and again about 6 months in to make sure tit is a good fit.

    I’ve also started doing a monthly newsletter for my volunteers that is a simple reminder of all that is going on that month and has different artcles from youth ministry magazines or blogs or websites in it. Its a simple way of getting some training to them without having to go somewhere or even ask them to get together for another meeting. Lives are so busy.

    The more fun the team has together, the more they want to be together and the better the team functions together. We’ve had the strangest mix of people on our high school team in the past but we all just wanted to be together we had so much fun. Its about building community and out of that love for each other and love for students that real ministry takes off. One note of caution – the closer the team gets this way the more we need to be careful that the team doesn’t enjoy being together so much during youth meetings and trips that we forget about being with students.

    Lone Ranger youth ministry doesn’t work because none of us can relate deeply to everyone. We can all be nice, fun, and love everyone – but we can’t connect with everyone. We need all types of adults to connect with all types of students.

  • Good points Rich.
    I now give people time to give the YM a test drive to see if it is a fit for them. If not they have the option to leave the team without any guilt. I also have the opportunity to ask them to leave if they are not a fit and that is also done without guilt. But I do try to help them find their fit if that’s the case.

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