Wednesday, February 6, 2013

3 Things Your Volunteers Need From You - TODAY

Our ministries rise and fall based on how well our volunteer leaders are loving and serving students.  Ok, that may be a slight exaggeration seeing that Jesus is kind of a big deal, but you get the point.

Here's a little reality check, the greatest impact for students in your ministry will not come from the talk you gave last week or this week but from a loving adult leader who is pursuing Jesus and pastoring a small group of kids.  This isn't an excuse to get up tonight unprepared and bore students but it is a reminder that if we're not investing in adult leaders our ministries will never reach their greatest potential.

Here's the rub.  Very rarely are we praised by how well we're doing investing in adults, we're most likely judged based on the number of kids who show up to hear us speak.  Because this investment goes unrecognized our motivation to invest deeply in adults must come from a unwavering belief that Jesus can and will use these volunteers to shape the hearts of kids.  By the way, that's how Jesus impacted the world, by investing in 12 who invested in others.

You see, many times what you do for your adults behind the scenes isn't noticed, but it's those hidden habits that can yield the greatest ministry impact.

So as we think about our adult volunteers as the front line of ministry here are 3 things they need from you today.

1.  Prayer

Ok, not rocket science but much easier said than done.  Our hope and prayer is that adult leaders would have intimacy with Jesus and deep relationship with students.  This is supernatural stuff dependent on the transforming work of Jesus.  We need to ask Jesus to do this miraculous work in their lives.  If we're not praying for them that may be an indicator of where our hope truly is.

By the way, for us to pray specifically for our leaders we need to know what's going on in their lives.
When is the last time you reached out to a leader simply to ask them how you could pray for them?

Do your leaders feel served or used?  Praying for them is a tangible way for us to serve.

2.  Vision

By this time of the school year there has probably been attrition in a small group and students sometimes act like they don't care.  In fact I ran into a leader yesterday who was at the church to meet with her small group of girls.  Not one girl showed.

Remind leaders often why they do what they do.  I'm not talking about mission statements or values (although these have a place) but stories.  If you ever hear a story of how an adult is impacting students you have to share it.  If a parent or student tells you how awesome their leader is you have to pass that along.

Painting a picture of how kids are impacted as a result of their investment can go a long way.

3.  Gratitude

Nothing says "thank you" like a gift card to a good restaurant.  There are a thousand ways to say thanks.  Be creative.

Your leaders are most likely sacrificing an incredible amount of time and sometimes money to live life with students.  As the leader it's so important you recognize their sacrifice and show genuine appreciation.

Saying thank you is very good, but does your budget reflect your heart to serve and thank your leaders?  Move a little money from your pyrotechnics budget and use it to tell your leaders thanks.

Here's a confession.  Gravity pulls me towards investing time in areas I believe will bring me the greatest praise.  We need to change the score card.  If we invest daily in our adult leaders we many not get recognized but we will have the joy of watching our student ministry go much deeper and eventually wider.

God gets the glory and we get the joy.  Isn't that our greatest hope in ministry?


  1. This is a great list. I love number 3. You cannot under estimate how much they need/want to here that they are loved and doing a great job in your ministry. A coffee with them, face-to-face time, will go such a long way and will feel more energized than ever to keep serving!

  2. Thanks Justin, there's no doubt that time and relationship are key. Wouldn't be good if our bosses judged us based on how well we are doing spending time with our leaders as much as numbers of kids at youth group?