It has been almost 10 years since the last time I was consistently leading a group of adult volunteers in youth ministry. I started as a youth pastor before I began working full-time at Never The Same. I am currently back in local church ministry, leading a youth group on a weekly basis with an incredible group of volunteers. These volunteers truly make up the heart of the ministry and are incredible to work with. I am sure you can agree when you think of the ones you serve with. They are selfless, humble, joyful, faithful, and know how to go along with any crazy idea that gets requested of them, aka, they know how to have fun!
They may carry a burden for the students in your ministry, but it also doesn’t mean the volunteers’ own burdens stop when they walk through the doors. Life creeps in, and burdens can be too heavy to put down in order to pick up the burdens of your students. Putting a game face on doesn’t always work. Ministry to students is difficult. Things have definitely changed in 10 years. But, youth ministry doesn’t mean we only minister to youth.
Ministry is ministry, no matter how you slice it.
So, how can we, as leaders, minister to the volunteers when they may feel like life is dragging them down or they feel they are not being effective in their leadership to students? Proverbs 10:11 states that the mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, so let’s start there.
Here are three ways to speak life into your volunteers:
Speak to the Father
Whether you are gathered together as a group or in a one-on-one conversation, stopping to pray at that moment for your volunteer(s) can bring life. Bring their requests to God. Gather others and surround them in prayer to carry each other’s burdens. Don’t know what to say in a certain situation? Ask for wisdom. James 1:5 states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
Speak to the Heart
We all need encouraging words from time to time, especially when things get tough. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to encourage one another and build each other up. This can be done by simply sending a text or calling them when they come to mind, writing a note, or pulling them aside to speak a word of encouragement. Sometimes, when a difficult situation is presented to the group of volunteers, the best encouragement can come from your veteran leaders. Allow them to speak life into your fellow brothers and sisters.
Speak to the Need
Ministry is demanding, and many times we can be so preoccupied with only our needs when we go about our day that we neglect the needs of others. Philippians 2:3-4 tells us to value others above ourselves and look to the interests of others. When was the last time you asked your volunteers what they needed outside of the ministry? How can you meet someone’s physical needs this week? How can your group of adults serve each other and not just the students? If we can meet each other’s needs, it can alleviate some of that burden. Simply sharing a meal, a donut and coffee (or hot chocolate…if you’re reading this, Roger) can bring life to our souls, and that might be what is needed. If anything, to build and maintain solid relationships with your volunteers.
Many will agree that our ministries would not function properly without our volunteers. Let’s remember to speak life into them so they can continue to speak life into the students of your ministry.
Director of Creative Design