Plain and simple: A youth pastor can’t have an impact on every student in their youth group. There are too many students and not enough youth pastors. However, when youth pastors multiply themselves through volunteers, they can reach more students. A youth group with great volunteers can reach more students and have a longer-lasting impact on those students. Unfortunately, youth pastors struggle with recruiting great volunteers. To meet this need, I’d like to offer you a few simple tips for finding great volunteers:
When looking for volunteers for your youth group, begin by targeting potential volunteers that already have an invested interest in the lives of students. Some potential vocations that would lend themselves to working with students include: teachers, coaches, social workers and counselors.
Many youth pastors have found that by targeting certain groups and life stages of church members, they have been able to recruit some key volunteers. Some of these demographics include: retirees, stay-at-home moms, parents and college students. One youth pastor I know targeted a retired elder of his church and asked him to volunteer in the youth group. He had plenty of time and resources to spend on kids. Students loved going to his house for pool parties and other events. The youth pastor also gained a major resource in having an elder as a volunteer. The elder committee was behind everything the youth pastor did with the students from that moment on.
A volunteer that feels cared for and well utilized will love being involved in your group and can therefore be a great recruiting tool. You can show your volunteer staff that you value their time with the students by providing training opportunities for them. One youth group we work with plans two training meetings a semester for their volunteers. One of those is an all-day event with multiple training sessions while the other is a few-hour training meeting on a Wednesday evening during mid-terms when attendance is usually low at youth group.
Ask your students to identify people they respect in church. After finding out who students look up to, challenge a specific student to ask that adult to be a volunteer for you. You can then follow up on that contact with a visit or call. Often adult volunteers don’t realize that students look up to them. Many adults will be much more willing to volunteer if they already connect with students.
Finally, don’t let volunteers into your ministry unscreened. Develop your own screening process. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions and make sure that you are getting a great volunteer by asking them to join your staff. If the volunteer’s character isn’t solid, their influence won’t be either. Having a bad volunteer staff can kill momentum behind a growing youth group.