1. Pray! Pray! Pray!
This is BY FAR the most important action step you can take! If you want the find the right kind of youth ministry volunteers to invest in the lives of your teenagers you must begin by asking God to work in hearts and open doors.
Pray as a volunteer team that God will make clear to you who you should ask. Pray that God begins to work in their hearts to make them open to it.
2. Create a profile of the optimal volunteer.
What do you want your volunteers to be like? What level of spiritual maturity would you like them to be at? What do you want them to be able to “know, feel and do” when it comes to youth ministry?
For instance you may want your volunteers to know what they believe and why they believe, feel passionate about reaching and discipling the next generation and, when it comes to “do“, that they are already investing in the lives of teenagers to some extent.
Youth ministry deserves the best volunteers. Refuse to settle for anything less!
WARNING: Don’t fall into the trap of thinking they have to be the youngest and hippest. Sometimes older people with new hips can be more spritually impacting than twenty somethings who happen to be hip. Some of the most effective youth volunteers I’ve ever worked with qualify to join the AARP.
3. Take them through an effective interview process.
Too many times we just say “yes” to someone who shows any whisp of interest in youth ministry. And, although we want to open and welcoming, we also want to make sure that the adults who want to join our volunteer team are in line with our vision, mission, values, theology and philosophy (you have that clearly written out somewhere right?)
A simple question I ask during our interview process at Dare 2 Share is “Why do you want to be a part of our team?” The answers to this simple question has held me back from hiring people. Because the “why” question can reveal motive.
Quite honestly some people want to be involved in youth ministry because they have an agenda to change it back to the good old days, bring a certain theology to the young people or have a need to be affirmed by a younger generation. Although most people with these agendas won’t usually say it so bluntly you can pick up the breadcrumbs that lead to their deeper motives if you listen closely and prayerfully enough.
I would say that they key qualification, beside a certain level of spiritual maturity and Gospel Advancing philosophy, is teachability. If an adult is teachable and open to change then they can develop into the type of adult leader that makes a life-long impact on a teenager.
4. Get ideas from your current volunteers.
Find out from your other adult volunteers who they think would be a fabulous volunteer based on what they know about your youth ministry philosophy and strategy. Volunteers (and sometimes even leadership students) often have people in mind that you may have never considered.
5. Recruit the kinds of adults you want your teenagers to be like someday.
“The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” Luke 6:40
After Jesus ascended into heaven (Acts 1:8-11) and the Spirit of God descended from heaven (Acts 2:1-4) the early believers were empowered to proclaim the good news. Their tongues were set on fire with the good news of Jesus and 3,000 were added to their number in a single day (Acts 2:41)!
We need adult volunteers whose lives and tongues are on fire with and for the gospel of Jesus! We need adult volunteers who are authentic, selfless and passionate about reaching the lost at any cost! But we also need men and women of prayer and the Word. They should be drenched in God’s truth and seeking to live out God’s commands fueled by love and grace (not law and lists!)
Of course they should also enjoy being around teenagers (and maybe even playing a few goofy youth group games every now and again) but, above all else, they should love Jesus and count it an honor to serve him in and through the avenue of youth ministry.
6. Stalk them (in the name of Jesus) if necessary!
Refuse to do the bulletin or church announcement that proclaims “We need volunteers!” Instead, prayefully conspire with your team and make a list of who you think would be top-notch youth ministry volunteers. Then set up a meeting with each of these potential volunteers one by one. Cast a vision for them and make a case to them of the importance of youth ministry. Ask them to test it for a month or two and then, if they sense the pull of God, commit for an entire year.
If necessary stalk them in the foyer until they say “yes” to the test. Let them know you and your team prayed over this list and their name kept popping to the top. If they push back ask them to spend a week or two really praying about it and then let you know.
These are six of my ideas for recruiting volunteers. What are some of yours?