It’s critical for you to recognize how much you need volunteers to make youth ministry relational and how much they need you.
Youth are always watching what adults do and say. That’s why it’s important to tell volunteers to be authentic. Explain what it means to be authentic.
Every Ministry Volunteer Needs Coaching
When they start, most have a lot of apprehension about fitting in and they lack confidence on how to be relational. Tell them that there isn’t any pressure to know it all. If they have a question, come to you.
Tell each volunteer to park their need to be busy to feel valuable at the door. That they are contributing by taking an interest in each youth. Thank them for listening to God’s call. Jesus has called them. Explain the value of getting to know the youth. Small talk. Youth love to talk about themselves once they get to know and get comfortable with a volunteer.
Building Relationships with Students is Job #1
Their first responsibility is to know the youth names. Encourage the volunteers to ask each youth how it’s going with their lives and activities.
Remember: Tell them getting to know a group of youth takes time and it will happen if they work at it each week. Tell them to intentionally seek out the youth they don’t know or haven’t spent time with lately.
Church volunteers should participate as much as possible in the youth group games and activities. This is the best way to break the ice and help everyone get comfortable with these trans-generational friendships.
Give volunteers resources like a list of birthdays and the activities the youth participate in. Make it their homework to reflect on the connections they made or have yet to make with each youth.
With a new volunteer, don’t just abandon them when they show up at a youth event because the youth need your attention. Introduce them. Have the youth group give them a round of applause. Get the youth to sign a thank you card.
Team Building Will Empower Youth Group Volunteers
Pair a new volunteer with another volunteer for support. Ask them to do what the youth do. Join in, participate in the activity, game or lesson. Start to build relationships. See what part of the youth ministry program they enjoy. Then, when they are acclimated you can then try stretching them a little.
Hint: Meet with volunteers frequently.
Meet as a group and individually. It’s a time to check in with them, pass along important information and tell them how much you value them. They have busy lives so you have to be flexible. An individual breakfast or lunch or coffee is a great venue to have them give you feedback and share information on individual youth they are close to. You should have an expense account to pay for your meals or coffee.
You may have volunteers who drive, fix meals, or lead small groups. They all need periodic attention. Share your time and encouragement as equally as possible.
Have a volunteer social event periodically. They are one of the small group ministries of the Church. Get to know each other socially.
Important: Always follow up with them when they bring an issue to your attention.
Real Relationships with Teenagers Will Require Investment
Ask the volunteers to attend a school activity periodically. It’s a great relationship builder. Maybe their child is in the activity so it’s a win win. Cross country meet, choir or band concert, soccer game, or musical. Remind them to make sure the youth see them and know that they support them. Say hello to their parent(s) if they are there. It shows them that you care about their life outside of church. Tell the volunteers to communicate back to you which events they attended and the youth they contacted. Remind them that they are the love of Christ in the community.
Train on your church Safe Sanctuary Training at the required intervals. Make sure you as a leader and the volunteers adhere to the requirements. It protects you and the volunteers.
Volunteers need frequent encouragement that they are making a difference in the lives of the youth. Thank them all the time. Thanks for driving! Thanks for preparing the meal! Thanks for praying! Thanks for helping with that game! Thanks for leading that small group! Thanks for telling me Joe is having a hard time! Send Thank You cards periodically. Let your appreciation and love shine! And always, give thanks to God for the blessing of youth program volunteers.
Reflection Questions about Mentoring Youth Group Volunteers
- When was the last time you met individually with each volunteer?
- How do you encourage and say Thank You to the volunteers?
- The last time a volunteer brought you an issue, how did you provide feedback to the volunteer?