It seems that other than figuring out how One Direction is still so popular, few things weigh as heavily on the mind of the youth worker than volunteer leaders. The specifics vary from ministry to ministry, but the themes seem to be the same:
“How do I find more leaders to join our team?”
“How do I train them, and when, and on what subjects?”
“What roles should they play? What roles should they not be allowed to play?”
“How do I keep them around for the long haul?”
These four questions outline the four parts of what I call the “Volunteer Cycle,” the never-ending (repeat, NEVER-ENDING) process that leaders of a youth ministry need to be engaged in. The Volunteer Cycle serves both as a state of mind you live in; meaning you are always thinking about the cycle when you think about your volunteers, as well as a formal mechanism or tool you implement into your volunteer strategy.
If you want to build and maintain a healthy, striving volunteer team you need to:
ENLIST: Continually invite new people to join.
EQUIP: Continually train your volunteers effectively and give them the skills and confidence they need.
EMPOWER: Continually give ministry away.
ENCOURAGE: Continually cheer them on.
Building a volunteer team is messy, important, stuff. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be the primary topic at conversation every time youth workers get together.
And while there’s no silver bullet….no guaranteed solution to the challenge, I think the Volunteer Cycle is as close as it gets. Which is why I’ll dedicate the next several articles to each piece of the cycle. I hope you’ll join us and add your thoughts in the comment section along the way!
Thanks for loving students and volunteers,
P.S. – Need resources for equipping volunteers? Simply Youth Ministry has a great selection! The Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry: Guide for Volunteers by Rick Lawrence is a great place to start.