As we head toward summer, it is time to start planning for the 2022-2023 school year. I know that may seem crazy to the uninitiated, but those of us in student ministry need to always be thinking six months to a year in advance of where we are at any given point in time. That has been extremely difficult during these days of pandemic, but it is time to embrace a spirit of intentionality as we move forward.
One of the important areas to constantly evaluate is your volunteer team. These are the men and women who are working with your students in a more hands on/face-to-face manner. They probably lead small groups and reach out to your students when you aren’t able to do it yourself. Their service is impactful and can make a significant difference in the effectiveness of your ministry. So, where do we start when we are trying to lay out a plan for recruiting the right people?
• Eliminate the idea that we just need to fill a spot. It is important that we carefully consider who is working with our students and children. We don’t need to take shortcuts in this area. We should take time to pray for God’s provision in these areas and seek to establish proper guidelines as we look for workers. The wrong worker can do a great deal of damage to your ministry.
• Look to your church’s mission, vision and values as you lay out guidelines. As you establish guidelines for your youth volunteer team, be sure that you are on the same page as the church. Remember, your student ministry should never be a separate entity. It is a part of the church. You want your guidelines to line up with the church as a whole.
• Find men and women who love students, no matter their age or education. We can fall into the trap of just looking for college/career age adults to work with our students. Some of the best volunteers in my student ministry over the years have been parents and even grandparents. They bring a stability and maturity that can be beneficial to students’ lives. In addition, we sometimes look down on possible volunteers because of their lack of education. Don’t let that be a part of your thought process. Are they trainable? Do they want to serve? That willingness can make up for any perceived deficiencies.
• Find men and women who love Jesus and the Word. You don’t want volunteers who simply want out of adult activities or just want to keep an eye on those “crazy teenagers.” You want people who are growing in their understanding of God’s Word and love Jesus deeply. That type of attitude is contagious, and it is something you want to infect your group with regularly.
• Find men and women who are already connecting with students. As you look for volunteers, look for those that are already having conversations with your students in the worship gathering. These individuals care about students and want to know what is going on in their lives. They may already be praying for the young men and women connected to your student ministry. They are a great place to start.
Finding the right volunteers and the proper number can be frustrating. COVID has pushed some of our people away. Don’t rush into using the wrong people. Take some time to think through who would make the best workers in your student ministry and pray that God will send them to join you as you seek to impact the next generation for Jesus.