Creating a Youth Ministry Volunteer Training Schedule That Works.

How often should volunteer youth leaders meet? What should be the focus of the meeting? How much is too much when it comes to meeting frequency? How can we build community as a team together?

These are just a few questions I get asked quite regularly by youth workers. My first answer is always, “It depends on the culture of every church. No one size fits all, but there is definitely a good balance that needs to be found when creating and developing a great team of volunteers.

I don’t know what your context is, but here is a basic schedule with the purpose for our meetings throughout the year. This is not THE way, it is just a way that works in my context.  Even if you are a volunteer, you might want to steal a few ideas for your youth pastor / director / minister…

August: End of Summer Planning – Vision casting, planning the Fall, outlining dates, events, procedures, and basic training.

October: Small Group Leaders Huddle – This is a new aspect for us. It includes specific training for small group leaders. We have a training manual, activities, and break outs.

December: Leaders Christmas Party – Purely for building community, having fun together, and appreciating the volunteers.

January: New Year Planning – Revisit the vision, planning the winter, schedule outlining dates, events, and tweaks to the programs.

March: Simply Youth Ministry Conference – Every year I try to take as many volunteers as possible to a conference. If you read this blog regularly, you know that I am a huge advocate for this conference. Having a team together to learn, grow, and build community is pretty amazing! Even if you can’t get to a conference. There are some great DVD training materials. Get a great location, make some meals, and train your volunteers!

Mid-March: End of School Year Planning – Planning the end of the school year, outlining dates, events, and tweaks to the programs. Looking ahead to basic summer schedule, (yes, I do work that far in advance).

May: Volunteer Firing BBQ – I stole this idea from Doug Fields years ago. It’s a great way to give leaders a clean break from serving if they are needing one. Everyone gets fired, and they get to choose if they come back in the Fall. (I would rather have leaders who love working with students, rather than leaders who feel obligated). This is just another great way to build community.

At the beginning of this post, I said that every church is different. This is simply what works for our church in a busy suburban area. You might be able to do more, or it might be less. However, ensure you include four crucial aspects to volunteer development:

  1. Continuously cast vision
  2. Provide specific training and tips
  3. Provide a detailed plan with dates
  4. Build community

Finally, in addition to meetings, provide: 1) A weekly email that includes specifics to your weekly programs. 2) Regular emailed training articles / tips.

What would you add to this? What helps you develop your team. If you are a volunteer, what has helped you develop? I know there is much more I could have added, but I am sure there are some incredible tips and ideas you have. Comment below… 

Phil <><

6 Responses to Creating a Youth Ministry Volunteer Training Schedule That Works.

  1. ScottTinman January 14, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    I also add posting links to this website on FB or Twitter or other Blogs. Many of my leaders also see my posts from the SYM Today and those are helpful for leaders to get in their inbox. I resource my leaders at Christmas time or other times of the year with books or a subscription to Group Magazine.

    One other way to build into leaders is to get together one on one or in a group depending on their gender to check-in on them and build our relationship as a team. Lunch appointments or meeting at a local coffee shop

  2. philbell January 14, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    Scott! Great stuff! These are more great practical ways. I agree, meeting with leaders one to one is imperative and should be a part of our ministry plan. I try to meet with the majority of my small group leaders throughout the year. I also have two small group coaches who look out for the small group leaders too, and help me do the training in October.

    Phil <

  3. LeaderTreks January 14, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    Do the small group leaders communicate back on a regular basis? how it is going, struggles, etc.. It is great to see the one on one or small group meetings (great idea scott) but it doesn’t look like there is a whole lot of opportunity for feedback (which can really help the youth pastor know what kind of tips/trainings/links/videos to pass around!) I assume you have this built in some where, more curious how you work that.

    Great post!


  4. philbell January 14, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    Brandon, great question. Tomorrow’s post will explain that a little. Every planning meeting builds in a time of “highlights and helps” where leaders share their highlights from the last couple of months as well as share challenges. Also, my one on one meetings usually look this: How are you doing with God? How is your family? How is work / study? What areas of ministry are you struggling with? How can I help.

    Overall, it is imperative that regular phone calls and the ‘life together’ stuff allow open channels of communication and that leaders feel they can share struggles when they come up.

    Does that answer your question? Check out the next two posts on this subject…

    Phil <

  5. Lyndsey September 22, 2015 at 12:23 am #

    I would love to see your training manual if you’re willing to share that.

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