Most adults, including parents, are apprehensive about interacting with a group of youth in “ministry”. That’s because most think it requires them to be knowledgeable (experts) about the Bible and be able to answer all the youth’s questions. That’s the first misconception that has to be explained away as a starter in any recruiting discussion. They need to understand why you need them as a volunteer.
What do most youth need today? Adults to be present, to ask them about their lives, to listen, and to “see” each of them. This lets the youth know they matter. Volunteers can show them this because they know their names and ask about what’s going on in their lives. Adults that show up for them. Volunteers can help them experience a caring heart that is powered by Jesus. To be Christ in action for them.
Take a big step back. You need a calendar for the year that is as complete as possible. Include the dates you will meet and the time. Dates of fall and/or spring retreats, summer mission trips, special events, service projects, fun trips, fund raisers, and Youth Sunday. Outline the structure of youth group night. Will you provide a simple meal? This shows the magnitude of your needs and publishing/posting it shows you are organized. Most adults like organization where as most youth like variability, flexibility and a measure of chaos. Adults learn to coexist in this culture but you have to give them a base to use while acclimating.
I recommend having a youth ministry kick off meeting at the end of summer and inviting youth, parents, grandparents and interested members of the congregation. Also be sure to have parents and youth extend an invitation to families they may know that don’t go to church.
During the kickoff meeting, be sure to cover your need for volunteers. Ideally one for every 6 youth. Pass out a list of all the things you need covered. Driving to an event, cook a simple meal, supervise a game, help with a service project, take cell phone pictures, help with a newsletter post, help run a fundraiser, attend youth group, hang out because you need a second adult present, attend a youth event at school (band or choir concert), go on a summer mission trip…….
If you have current volunteers, ask one of them to tell what the experience has meant to them. Have the volunteer share the only qualification is that they care about youth. Ask the adults to circle or check one or more things on the list they would consider doing and give it back to you. Now you have laid the groundwork with a meeting and a testimonial. What’s next? The personal contact.
Start with the positive responses and ask them to go get coffee or breakfast or lunch with you. This is Important! The personal invitation shows you are committed to listening to any concerns and answering their questions. Let the potential volunteer know that what you need is simple and that you will be there to support them. Explain that youth ministry is relational and there is only one of you.
At youth group you can also ask the youth if they think any of their parents would be willing to help. Like whose parents can drive to this event? Would any of your parents be willing to cook chili or spaghetti or Mac & Cheese for us. You will be surprised that some will ask their parents or at least crack the door open for you to ask.
Big Hint! Pray that Jesus will send you volunteers. Do it often. You are asking Jesus to work on their hearts. Ask adults to help. Be fearless. You are asking so they can be blessed by the experience of ministering to youth.
It takes time to grow a group of Volunteers. Year one you will see some commit. By year four you will see something really cool! And a few will be drawn to dive deep into the program once they get comfortable with the youth culture. Like becoming small group discussion leaders!