(I’m currently on this soapbox based on a recent VBS experience. You can read the story in my last post.)
So if I was your youth ministry volunteer, or hoping to be, here’s what would keep me around:
1) Last-minute scheduling: I want to be all in but I can’t do that without advance notice, especially for retreats or trips. Just because I’m uber-busy, I can make time for things I know about.
2) I want to be a partner, not just a helper: Let me have real responsibility, something that will get my ministry/passion juices flowing.
3) Use my specific gifts: This will get real buy-in from me and keep me connected. For example, if I’m good at upfront stuff and you put me in the kitchen (which I hate), my excitement will soon fizzle out.
4) No surprise-lessons: If I’m going to be a part of helping get the message across, I don’t want to get the night’s topic as I walk in the door. I can’t have the chance to prepare ahead if the opportunity isn’t offered.
5) Don’t say yes or no for me: Never assume I will or won’t volunteer for something. All you have to do is ask; the answer will most likely be “yes”.
6) What’s the point: I have a lot better sense of where we’re headed when I know the mission, values, and goals of what we’re trying to do. Even better, I’ll help get it done if I’m part of creating the journey.
7) More training, please: But make it quality. I might even pay for it myself if I know it will be good and I know we’re all in it together.
8) More team, please: Not only do I want to serve the youth ministry, but I want to build a sense of team with the other adults serving those same students. I want to get to know one another, compare notes, maybe even have fun.
9) Don’t ask me to volunteer and then do my job: This will pretty much guarantee that I won’t come back again.
10) “Thank you” and “I appreciate you” go a long way with me. Even though I may say no appreciation is needed, its still nice to know my efforts are making a difference.