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Caring For and Training Youth Ministry Volunteers

I was this great post by Jonathan Tripp over at SimplyYouthMinistry.com. The article is about one of my favorite topics: Training Youth Ministry Volunteers. I put a clip below. Head over there to see the entire article.

As a volunteer, I was excited to get to attend training sessions. Now, I get so many thanks from my volunteers for training opportunities. Whether we drive for hours or just across town, time together along with great information makes for a good combination. It always irritated me when I was given a task without enough information. Always make sure your volunteers fully understand what you are expecting from them. Some may need more explanation than others. Don’t assume that just because you’re the youth minister that you can’t learn from your volunteers either. Some may have been doing this longer than you. Sharing ideas and offering training times helps to ensure everyone is on the same page in regards to the youth ministry of your church.

If volunteers don’t feel cared for then they won’t want to use the training that you provide. I wanted to know that I was being ministered to as well as helping to minister to the youth. My volunteers are the same way. Send them a note. Give them a call. Know what’s happening in their family. I once called one of my biggest volunteers to ask about a new family issue they were dealing with and found out that no one else had called to check on them. It meant the world to them at the time. My wife and I also love to make special Christmas ornaments for them commemorating the year. One of the most special ideas is to hold an appreciation dinner hosted (and served) by the youth themselves to say, “Thank you,” to volunteers, parents, and sponsors for the year of support.

One of the biggest mistakes I have made regarding volunteers is to expect that the outcome of their work will always match the grand vision I had in mind. Don’t be afraid to admit that you made a mistake. Maybe it’s your vision. Maybe it’s their execution of you vision. Maybe it’s that you put the wrong volunteer on the wrong task. If they aren’t successful (at least some of the time) then they won’t want to keep trying. It won’t matter how much caring and training he gets; if he can’t sing then he can’t sing (don’t let him continue to lead worship as youth stop attending). You also can’t be afraid to point out mistakes made by your volunteers. It’s part of training. Be gracious. Be kind. Be honest. Be firm.