Volunteer Stimulus Package
by Sean Meade
I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with summers in youth ministry. Between summer camps, mission trips, vacations, and spending long days hanging out with teenagers, summer can be kind of crazy. Summer holds a ton of great opportunities for building relationships with students, but it’s also one of the easiest times to overlook and underappreciate the equally hectic lives of your adult volunteers. That’s why I’m proposing a “Volunteer Stimulus Package” that I hope will help you finish the year strong and kick off the summer with your volunteers.
- Give em a break!—Take time to intentionally hang out as a volunteer team. No teenagers, just your adults building relationships together as a team. Go to someone’s house for dinner and board games. Meet at a local park for a picnic with the families of the whole group. Do something to show that your volunteers mean more to you than just what they can do on a Sunday morning.
- Is this for me?—If you’re taking kids on an overnight trip this summer (camps, retreats, and so on) take the time to prepare some “goodie” bags for your sponsors. Arrange for each leader to receive a bag in their room full of goodies for them to enjoy, or better yet to share with their teen roommates. Don’t take credit for the bags; instead use it as an opportunity to set your volunteers up as the “junk food hero” of their room.
- 1-on-1 time—Take time to set up a one-on-one with each one of your volunteers. Depending on their schedule, take them out for a lunch, breakfast, or coffee. Don’t go with an agenda, just spend time talking with and encouraging them. Build in a time for them to give you some honest feedback and evaluation, and make sure you’re ready to listen and be open to what they have to say!
- I caught you a delicious bass!—Everybody loves a good gift, and your volunteers are no different. Surprise them by giving them something that shows how much you appreciate them, and helps them grow as a leader and Christ follower. A great idea would be to give each of them a copy of Doug Field’s new Refuel book. It’s an easy read, and a great resource for encouraging their relationship with God!
However you do it, I pray that this summer you will take time to invest in your volunteers. Encourage, empower and appreciate your volunteers and you’ll reap the rewards for years to come!