In this little Wednesday series, we are working our way through what I like to call the volunteer cycle (catchy name, I know). Assuming you become a champion at enlisting volunteers, what do you do with them? Scripture makes the answer clear.
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-12
Obviously you can’t equip who you don’t have on board which is why the enlisting process is of utmost important, but once you have men and women on your team, your primary responsibility is to equip them for ministry in the church.
I’ve not met many youth workers who don’t understand the importance of training and equipping their youth team. The struggle, however, is around things like what the training should consist of, how often it should happen, etc. For many youth workers, expecting their volunteers to attend training meetings in addition to the various roles they are already playing in the youth group feels like they’re asking too much And as a result, something we all know is of vital importance often gets neglected. And while no amount of training can protect your youth ministry from somebody who intentionally wants to do it harm, I’ve discovered over the years that those people are few and far between. In my experience, most of the harm and headache that has happened in youth ministry has been the result of a lack of proper training and accountability…Good people who are under-equipped. Perhaps the youth ministry nation as a whole is neglecting our primary responsibility.
Here are a few ideas of topics to cover in your training time:
- Your church doctrine, theology etc. Making sure your volunteers are in alignment with areas your church deems non-negotiable.
- Your youth ministry strategy, purpose-statement, values, etc.
- Your safety and security policies.
- Adolescent development 101.
- How to ask good questions and be a good listener.
- Mandatory report laws.
- How to partner with parents.
- Complete small group training for volunteers leading a small group.
Here are a few ideas for scheduling training time:
- Build a consistent training time into your monthly youth ministry calendar, so it happens at the same place/time every month. For example, you may meet for 90-minutes and lunch one Sunday afternoon each month after church.
- Attach training to your youth gathering. For example, require volunteers to arrive 30 minutes early or stay 30-minutes late every week and do short, strategic training in that setting.
- Pre-record your training and post it online. Make viewing it a requirement before a volunteer can begin serving.
- Schedule one-on-one or “cluster” training (you plus two or three) off site at a local coffee shop. This is time consuming, but very strategic because once you cover the basics, you can customize each training time to the needs/experience level of the person you are meeting.
Remember, like the ENLIST portion of the volunteer cycle, equipping your team is an on-going process; recently enlisted volunteers will need basic training while those who have been around a while will need ongoing, next level, training. It’s a big deal….which I suppose is why scripture says it’s our primary responsibility!