One of the most important roles is that of our volunteers. Without them I’m sure all of us can attest that we would not be able to do what we do on a consistent basis. Volunteer leaders are just that … leaders. If we are not careful, we can snuff out any leadership potential they have to help move our ministry forward. If we are not intentional about their roles, they can turn into glorified babysitters.
What is a glorified babysitter, you ask? Someone who shows up to keep order, occupy a space and makes sure nobody dies. Someone who is known as “that is the guy/girl who tells me to be quiet all of the time” and not known by their name as a caring leader. Our sole purpose for having leaders is so they can connect with, have real, authentic, caring relationships with, students and for them to connect students with God so they can help them have a caring, real authentic relationship with Him.
Here are some signs that you have glorified babysitters and not caring leaders:
Students do not know why your leaders are there—When students look at the volunteers you have and they think of them more as security than caring adults, you might have a problem. Granted, some leaders are better than others on connecting with students right off the bat, but as leaders it is our job to make sure our students know they have caring adults in their life who choose to be there voluntarily to hang out with them. If we are not intentional with getting students interacting with volunteers and helping them realize this is a place where they can feel safe, feel loved and feel cared for so leaders can pray for them, have a conversation with them when they are in need and point them to Jesus, then we are doing our students a huge disservice.
They don’t know why they are there—When I talk to potential volunteers about joining our ministry, the first question is always, “So what would you like me to do?” Having a very clear vision and direction and goal for a leader during service times is the best thing you can do for them. If they do not know why they are there then it won’t be long before they aren’t. So you need to ask yourself, “What is a win for our leaders during service?” and make sure they know it. If they know coming on board what the goal is, then they will be all about it, especially when they hit it.
You don’t know why they are there—As ministry leaders, we know when anyone wants to volunteer we will not turn them away (unless something disqualifies them of course). We can never have enough volunteers, right? As leaders if we have not thought through exactly what our leaders need to be doing, if we have not through what a win is for leaders on a given night, if we have not thought through what a new volunteer would do if they came on board to serve with us, then maybe we are not ready for more volunteers. One of the greatest compliments a ministry leader will hear is when someone on staff talks to your volunteer and they are excited for what is going on in your ministry because they know exactly what the goal is for them and it’s clear and well thought out.
Basically, if we have glorified babysitters it’s because we as the leaders are producing them. Be intentional. Be clear. Have a goal set out and watch volunteers rise to the bar you set. Watch God work through them and watch your ministry be transformed.