I’m a tad A.D.D right now so here are a few bullet points for volunteers who are called to serve teenagers.
*a volunteer who is fed is a better feeder- youth ministers can often spiritually abuse our gifted volunteers. I am not responsible for my adult leaders to grow spiritually, but I’d be a fool to not encourage them to seek Jesus on consistent basis. I could do better in this area. I want myself and leaders to stink of Jesus, so we must get close to Him.
*just because someone volunteers doesn’t mean they should- even if we are desperate for help, being desperate often attracts desperate people. I once put an announcement in a church bulletin saying “we need help, come join us!!” Stupid.
*partner or helper?- A partner takes ownership in the vision of the ministry and a helper is a task master, we need both. Not everyone is wired to be a partner and vice versa. Are you forcing a helper to be a partner? I have and it produces pain. I am learning this concept as we speak!
*strength in diversity- At one point I recruited leaders who were like me and the outcome was that we attracted one main type of teenager. There is great beauty in having young, old, introvert, extrovert, outdoor nuts, computer lovers, sports fans and origami ninjas because you will attract the same diversity of students. Most adult leaders attract students who are fairly similar to them, which proves that we could always use more leaders with a variety of gifts.
*creative contact work- it is impossible to have a meaningful relationship if we only see students at our Sunday morning ministries for an hour each week. With technology, we have so many advantages to encourage students on a frequent basis. I know that volunteers are busy and have family obligations, but contact work is still possible. Find out what works for you and do it! Be consistent, encouraging and see yourself as a pastor who is checking on their flock.
I’ll close with a favorite youth leader story that encapsulates one of my favorite qualities of a volunteer. We had a new boy that came to one of our ministry events and he looked terrified! As I taught that night I realized that he was sitting on the floor in the middle of all the students. I asked the students to grab a bible and I saw him lean over to grab one from the person next to him. At this very moment the new guy passed gas and it was of monstrous proportion. Every eyeball in the room focused on this poor soul and laughter began to spread across the room. As the other students were about to crucify this kid, one of our adult leaders did the unthinkable…he claimed it! He said “I did it…It was me, sorry!” This leader sacrificed his own dignity for the dignity of a kid who could have been devastated and thrown off the island.
This leader acted the way he did because he was a champion for teenagers and delighted in even the stinky ones.