In my previous post I provided five ways to keep great volunteers in my youth ministries over the years. Having a great team of volunteer youth leaders is essential to the health of any youth ministry. There are no more ‘lone rangers’ in youth ministry and it’s important that we maintain a ‘wide bandwidth’ of volunteers to reach the different kinds of students we have in our churches and communities.
Here are five more ways that have been effective in investing and keeping great volunteers:
6) Empower them to Lead. One of the struggles any leader faces is the fact that most of the time we can say, “It’s quicker to do it myself,” or, “I can do it better.” This is often a reason why many paid youth workers do not delegate, equip and empower their volunteers to lead the ministry. In the short-term we can get it done quicker and better, but in the longer term we stifle the ministry and lose good people. Leaders are looking to lead and use the gifts God has given them. When we can see their potential, walk alongside and invest in them, we will likely see them stick around for the long haul.
7) Strive for a Balanced Schedule. Have you ever asked volunteers if the schedule is balanced and sustainable? As we consider our ministry schedules, it is imperative that we don’t burn out good people. What could seem to be an easy schedule for paid youth workers, might not seem easy for a volunteer who has a full-time job and a family to invest in. What would your volunteers say about the schedule?
8) Give them a Break. Every summer we ‘switch’ the schedule so that there is a lighter need for volunteers and greater relational opportunities for students to connect. The growth opportunities are provided only by volunteers who are happy to continue serving into the summer. For everyone else, they get to take a break. While the summer is great for connection with volunteers and students, it’s also imperative they return in the Fall refreshed and energized. Giving them a break in the summer has helped my volunteers come back year after year. We also give them a break over the usual holidays too…
9) Family Always Comes First. In the past four years of my ministry in my current church, my volunteers have seen me model family first. And, they have always heard that their family comes first. Anytime a volunteer has a family event, emergency, or need, they always know, “family comes first.” Over the long-haul this is healthy for everyone, and they know I care about their family and consider it to be their primary ministry. A leader who cares about his or her volunteers families is someone who is followed and respected.
10) Thank Them. This might sound so simple, but how often do we truly thank a volunteer? Recently I spent 5-6 hours writing thank you cards to volunteers and people who had helped on a recent mission trip. I don’t write this to impress you, but I write this to impress upon you the importance of taking time to really say “thank you” to the volunteers who give their time.
A thank you note with numerous reasons for your appreciation takes a long time to write, but goes a long way to acknowledge great volunteers!
In addition to thank you notes, I have had Christmas parties, BBQ’s, Birthday cards, Starbucks gift cards, and awards for my volunteers. How are you thanking your volunteers?
What would you add to the list of ten? In what ways have you been effective in keeping great leaders to do ministry with you? What ideas can you share with others in the comments?