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4 Steps to Turn Your Volunteers Into Leaders

We spend a lot of time recruiting volunteers, convincing people to get involved. Then you finally get them and it becomes about helping them stay. Why should they stay?

While vision and purpose are key, how you help them grow is paramount. As a leader your responsibility is to help your volunteers grow spiritually and professionally. If all they do is serve, they’ll eventually:

  • Lose interest
  • Grow frustrated
  • Make mistakes
  • Stunt the growth of your ministry
  • Limit your effectiveness as a youth minister

To avoid these road blocks, you need to focus on their development, and that means:

ALLOWING THEM TO TAKE RISKS

Your team might not grow because you’ve played it safe. Give them opportunities to lead and make decisions without your input. Give them permission to step out even if it means failure.

After you give them the opportunity to take risks, ask them about it. Sit down and discuss what went well. Ask them their motive and set up another opportunity.

SHARING WITH THEM YOUR RESOURCES

As a professional, you have access to resources and opportunities your volunteers will not know about. Share them and let them have access to the same wisdom and experience.

If there is a training, take them with you. If there is a book, read it together. Let them grow alongside of you. They’ll begin to value what it is you value, which creates synergy.

INVESTING IN THEM ONE ON ONE

Your volunteers want to feel like more than a helper. Find those you feel have the potential to lead and get to know them personally. Invite them and their family over for dinner. Do something they enjoy.

When volunteers feel like you know them, they’ll trust you. When they trust you, they are more likely to step out of their comfort zones. They’ll follow your lead and encourage others to move too.

HOLDING THEM ACCOUNTABLE TO MOVE FORWARD

People will live up or down to expectations. If you are not clear or the bar is set too low, people will not grow. If a leader isn’t growing spiritually, talk to them about it. If they aren’t making improvements, address it.

Create consequences and guidelines. It might sound harsh, but it protects the integrity of the program. If your leaders aren’t growing, it’s going to hold back your ministry, which will impact the teenagers.

Youth ministry isn’t a program, it’s a movement. And a movement needs volunteers looking to grow as leaders. Love them, lead them and challenge them to take the ministry to the next level.  

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Chris graduated from Xavier University in 2003 with a BA in Communications: Electronic Media. He moved to Baltimore in the fall of 2003 where he served as a Jesuit Volunteer for a year. During that time, he was a Case Manager at Chase Brexton, met his wife Kate and felt God's calling to Student Ministry. In the summer of 2004, he was hired by the Roman Catholic Parish Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Maryland as a Middle School Youth Minister. Today he oversees grades 5-12 as the Director of Student Ministry.