10 Ways to Keep Leaders Long Term

Guest Post by Josh Evans

Youth leaders are vital to the success of your ministry. We all would admit that we cannot build a healthy student ministry without leaders! We all need leaders and volunteers no matter what size student ministry you may have. Here are my thoughts on ways to keep your youth workers on board with your vision and your ministry:
  1. Build a healthy relationship with them– When you recruit youth workers, choose people who you can have a relationship with. One of the coolest things about our youth leaders is that most of my wife and I’s closest friends serve in our student ministry. So, we have some strong relationships with the ones who are in there! If you want to keep youth leaders long-term, you need to have a relationship with them.
  2. Listen to their feedback– I came from a small church where we had 30 students and a few youth leaders that I personally recruited. I basically started the youth group from scratch and the Lord blessed. Then, He moved me to a different church with about 75 students and about 25 youth leaders. They knew the system way better than I did. One thing that I tried to do and still do is listen to their feedback and ideas. Some youth pastors have a way of doing things, and they are not open to ideas from their youth leaders. This is something that turns people away from serving in your ministry so listen to their feedback, and do not be afraid to use their idea and give them the credit!
  3. Show them that they are appreciated. I am reading a book right now called, “life in student ministry” by Tim Schmoyer, and he constantly is hitting me hard about praising your youth leaders! This is a great way to keep youth leaders with you. They must feel like their ministry is important to you. They must know that you appreciate them. Try your best to pay for their ministry stuff. Our budget cannot handle paying for every youth leader for every event, but we try to cut cost for leaders and be a blessing to them. If we had the budget to pay for every leader, I for sure would take that and apply it! Shower your leaders with gifts and blessings. We just had our Christmas party, and we got each leader a Christmas photo of their entire small group. It was not too expensive, and it means a lot to our leaders. They must know that they are appreciated if they are going to serve with you long-term.
  4. Your heart must be fleshed out– Volunteer youth leaders do not want to serve in your ministry if they cannot see that you genuinely have a heart for your students! They must see your heart, passion, and enthusiasm for this ministry lived out!
  5. Cast vision regularly– Vision is not something that you cast once a year! This is something that the leaders need to be reminded about over and over again! They must hear where you feel God wants to take the youth group. You must cast is regularly, and you must live out the goals and vision that you are casting!
  6. Train them– Leader training is so important. This is something that we are working on, but we are going to try to improve even more on. Your leaders need training. We always have areas that need improvement, and you need to provide this for your leaders. They also need to be humble enough to be willing to go through some training.
  7. Pray with them– There is nothing better than having a relationship with your youth leaders where you can drop down and pray with them. You both need this relationship! Ask them how you can pray for them and their families! They need to be assured that you are praying for them outside of youth group.
  8. Model their job description– Many times we have a job description for youth leaders that we as the youth pastor hardly hold! The youth leaders need to see you living out the Christian life as well as the job description and standard that you hold them too.
  9. Let them lead– Many times youth pastors want to do things themselves. We are human, and we struggle with being on an inward power trip thinking that we can do things better than the youth leaders. If you give them a responsibility, allow them the authority to carry it out.
  10. Support them– You must support them from the pulpit of your church as well as from the pulpit of your student ministry. They must know that they are supported by their student pastor. Support them in front of the students and take their side on issues unless it is a moral problem on their part. They must feel supported.

Josh Evans is the student pastor at Union Grove Baptist Church in the Winston Salem, NC area. He has been a mentor and pastor to students for 4 years. You can connect further with Josh on his blog or send him a direct email at [email protected].

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Josh Griffin
Josh Griffin is high school pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. He’s the co-counder of DownloadYouthMinistry.com and host of the Youth Ministry Garage Podcast. He's authored more than 20 youth ministry resources and is the author of "99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders" with Doug Fields. Josh is a father of 4 who speaks a little, podcasts a little, Twitters a bit, and blogs a lot. You can find him at DownloadYouthMinistry.com!