We talks about some great gifts for volunteers in your Youth Ministry this Christmas.Continue Reading...
Archives For volunteers
I am one of those youth workers who know my short comings and love surrounding myself with people who can help build me up in ministry. It makes ministry ministry go so much smoother and helps hit every single student as opposed to only those that I can reach. One of the unexpected outcomes of surrounding myself with these people is the wealth of knowledge that they can offer. Each volunteer that comes on board is an expert at something in their lives and can bring so much to the table.
Here are four of my own volunteers that I will be seeking out this next year to help teach me something about doing better ministry:
- Jim: Jim is currently working on his doctorate in team management and I have loved sitting in Starbucks and simply listening to him talk about how we can better work on streamlining “the process” and improving tactics to bring out the best qualities in each member to make the whole system better. He is also a part-time professor at a local university and it is my hope that this next year, he will be willing to take over an hour of our volunteer training to teach on the “best of” in systems techniques for our group.
- Rob: Rob is a professor of business management at the Air Force Academy and has a wealth of knowledge on how to handle money. So when I put together my budget this next year, I will be sitting down with him to discuss how best to use our money and setting up checks and balances through out the year to manage this money.
- Kristin: Kristin is currently a stay-at-home mom, but she has her undergrad and masters in school counseling and someone that I want to have on board if something terrible were to happen. I am hoping to put together a “crisis plan” for staff and volunteers in our youth ministry and will be consulting with her to make sure that all of my bases are covered for the different situations that could potentially happen.
- David: Working in a military environment, I know very little about this third-world culture and so I will be seeking him out in how we can better impact this community this summer. With his many years serving our country, he will be able to bring unique ideas to the table.
Do you allow volunteers to bring their experience to the table? If so, how do you let them teach you?Continue Reading...
Youth ministry is all about working within different seasons. At times, you will have more students attending your events than you ever thought and at other times, you are unsure where everyone is at. The same is true with volunteers, sometimes you have little or no volunteers and at other times, you are unsure what to do with everyone you have. Of course, the number of volunteers you have is based directly n how much effort you put towards them but we must not forget that sometimes there is no new resources to draw from to find new volunteers to replace those who are done for now.
Youth Specialties highlighted a rockstar volunteer, Verna Kline, recently on their website who is an 81 year old volunteer youth worker who has been volunteering for 63 years. Here is the video of Tic Long at NYWC honoring her many years of service.
Because there are different seasons to volunteers’ lives and getting new volunteers, we need to be always promoting an environment of life-long volunteers with youth ministry. So when we run into those seasons of low numbers of volunteers, we can lean on those who are in it for the long haul.
- Let them know your expectations from the start. If you tell them they are going to be doing games up-front, do not force them to do a sermon or lead small group without first asking for their permission..
- Publicly praise their years of volunteers. If you have those volunteers who have served for 5, 10, 15, 0r more years, praise them to your staff, students, congregations and other volunteers. Let them know you love them as well as other volunteers who may look up to them.
- Know their volunteer love languages. That means that you need to know what stresses them out and what builds them up. Then use that valuable knowledge to put them in the perfect volunteer roles. If they hate public speaking, they may be the perfect small group leaders.
- Set them up for the win. We all love to have those moments when our excitement is renewed because of some kind of win. If we can become selfless and give that opportunity to a volunteer when we see it, we will be empowering them more than words ever can.
- Allow for “vacations” from ministry instead of “retirements.” Life is hard and when volunteers have their own children, careers, and other expectations and goals, you can do everything right by your volunteers and they still need to stop volunteering. But instead of saying good-bye to them, communicate instead that it is good-bye for now, letting them know you are welcoming them back when they are ready.
- Invest in them personally, rather than just professionally. I am all about talking with volunteers, getting their opinions on topics of youth ministry, and asking for creative ideas for ministry. But I love to simply hang out with my volunteers, over coffee, a dinner, or board games. Open up the opportunities to be with volunteers beyond trainings and at youth group and live life with them.
How else do you try to get life-long volunteers?Continue Reading...
Monday, I shared a letter to the volunteers that we put into next year’s curriculum. Along with the letter within the curriculum, I have added a sheet of guidelines and suggestions for the volunteer that we hope will better equip them in serving with this ministry.
- Wednesday Night Live is a time for teaching. We assume that no one has heard this material before so that no one is left out of the discussion. Remember, deeper conversations will be continued when we get to the small group. If it does not happen here, that is okay. The questions are designed to encourage participation, meaning beginning questions are icebreakers and simple answers and they progress into deeper thought-provoking questions. This creates an atmosphere of involvement that hopefully will encourage better discussion and conversations for the later reflective questions that will be asked at that meeting.
- Small Groups will follow up with the Wednesday Night Live. It is assumed that they now have a foundation of the content and so icebreaker questions will be minimal, yet thought-provoking questions will continue and begin to develop into teenage-specific questions that lead the student into reflective discussions.
- The Parent 360 newsletter will simply be a recap of what has been discussed at WNL and Small Groups. This will be emailed out to them every Thursday after Wednesday night and will include the Teaching, Questions, and Further Reading so that they can go even deeper in conversations with their children and it is encouraged that all teachers promote this with their students and their parents.
- You have the illustrations, questions, or specified Bible passages. I have done the legwork for those that do not feel as confident in their teaching abilities. But you know your group best. You do not have to do all of it and can definitely come up with some of your own. But remember who your audience (I.e. Don’t go into the details if they do not understand the basics)
- If you do not go over the week’s material, please notify me about it as the small group and parents’ curriculum is expected to build off of what you have presented. Do not skip a meeting for the sake of something cool, new, or easy for you. The ministry is running as a team and your lesson is part of the building blocks for the next lessons to come. Even if you “do a different lesson”, you cannot skip the current lesson and will need to address it the next week.
- We have created “buffer” Game Days that can be completely skipped for the sake of cancelled WNL’s. These lessons are designed to feel completely different from the established curriculum so that if there is a need to skip a week, we do not lose material, but instead just lose that week’s meeting. This does not include the final Farewell Day lesson
- Show up on time and allow students that have to leave at a specific time to know when they need to go.
- Always use the main Scripture in your talk that relates to the week’s topic and your talk. While our words may be good, we root our faith and teachings in the Word of God and a lesson without Scripture is just another talk.
- The “Other Relevant Scripture” is there for you to connect other parts of the Bible. Use what you can, the research has been done for you. At the same time, remember that students love context and stories. Be careful not to distort the Word by making it say something that is not there and does not agree with the whole message of God’s Word.
- If you know you cannot lead a lesson, please give me a week’s notice to find a replacement.
- Embrace every answer. If it seems vague, confusing, wrong or sounds like a Sunday school ‘right’ answer, follow up with a deeper question like:
- “Please say more about what you mean.”
- “That’s the answer we expect. How would you explain that to someone who doesn’t know the ‘expected’ answer?”
- When someone specifically connects with where the study is headed, highlight that answer as important to pay attention to. Remember, we are aiming for developing an atmosphere that resembles a good conversation, where you and the other group members interact all the time with what someone says.
- We are scheduled to go till 7:30PM, but if you have the time afterwards and the students have something they need to talk about, go for it. If you cannot stay or do not feel comfortable about talking with them because of the nature of the topic, please ensure them that you or someone will follow up. Whether you do talk or not, PLEASE INFORM ME within 24 hours.
- You can bring your own supplies, but if you want me to provide them from the CTOF fund, just ask. The only requirement for this is that you give me four work days notice.
- Further Readings are provided for your convenience. Take advantage as much as possible. If you cannot, I would love to have an hour discuss about them over coffee or lunch, just call.
- The curriculum is designed to be four 6-week lessons that work together in pairs. The first 6-weeks are intended to meet the students where they are at and discuss military-specific issues they might face as a military brat and see what the Bible has to say about it. The second 6-weeks then take those same topics and looks at stories of the Bible. The third 6-weeks looks at teenage issues and then the final 6-weeks looks at these same issues from a Biblical basis.
- Effective youth ministry meets the students where they are at in life and shows them Christ’s light. Then one introduces them to the Scriptures, coupled with Christian missional experiences, and shares with them the life of Christ. That is the intent of the pairing of the 6-week lessons. We will go over each 6-week theme for you before each section.
We are currently in the process of writing a 28-week curriculum for USAFA Club Beyond and I wanted to share some of the non-lesson components with you this week. The first one is a letter that we include with the curriculum to the volunteer, thanking them for their help and highlighting a few things that might be helpful to them as they take on this role. Below is a copy of the full letter to them.
I want to first thank you so much for leading this group for USAFA. I hope I have communicated this to you already, but let me reiterate that what you will be doing will change the lives of everyone you teach in the coming weeks as well as impact the Kingdom of God. I praise Him for your willingness to come forward and serve Him and these students.
One thing that I want to mention upfront is that I truly believe that great conversations cannot be scripted nor should they be cookie-cutter programs. If you get to one question and it takes up enough time that you have to really invest in it and them, do it! You are not held to every detail of this curriculum, but only to the movement of the Holy Spirit. This curriculum is provided to empower you to do the best you can so that you can focus on relationships. If you find that people are having questions and you do not have time with the illustrations, then continue that route. At the same time, do not follow every rabbit trail that presents itself. This ministry is to be life-giving, faith-encouraging, and relationship-focusing.
One exception to the previous paragraph is that I require that every lesson be rooted in Scripture. I provide a main Scripture for every lesson and have picked it for three reasons. First off, every one I pick is within the context of the bigger picture of the passage. (This is called good hermeneutics) Secondly, for Wednesday Night Live, I have purposely picked Scripture that has a story to it. All Scripture is valuable, but I have found that high school and middle school students that are new to their faith or do not have a relationship with Christ have a hard time with many passages that do not have a story that they can relate to their own lives. Finally, and most obvious, the Scripture correctly relates to our topic of the night.
For those with the time, ambition, or drive, I have provided a list of further readings for you to look through. This will provide you with a plethora of content to draw from. Some of it will be investing in the Scripture, others investigating the impact of the teen culture, but all of it will be Christian-based. Please look at what is available as best as possible. Each topic has an iceberg of information and could be talked about for hours, but we only have time to present a portion of it. So focus on what is important to your audience and we might be able to go further and deeper at small group or other discussions.
Finally, I want to share some wisdom of this generation of teenagers. One big issue facing them right now is a huge shift in Christian worldview. (Worldview: How we see the world) The older generations have a modern worldview where facts rule. One can go over the four spiritual laws and actually accept Christ. The fact that the Bible says God is supreme, Jesus died for our sins, and heaven awaits us is enough for us to truly believe.
But teens have grown up in a media intensive age. The “facts” are that we as a society have told them medicine can cure people but cancer is still a problem, that war will bring peace but we are still there fighting, or that the latest gadget will make us and happier but we are still joyless. Something is missing. But for this new worldview, the postmodern worldview, relationships are what they see as real, not facts. Facts cannot comfort a terrible breakup, facts cannot bring back a divorced parent who left, and facts cannot get you out of a peer pressure situation. But relationships are real. They know it won’t fix the problems in their lives, but they also know the values of friends and family and would give up a lot for them.
For us as teachers, we can use the stories of the Bible and the stories of our lives to show them who Jesus is and how He has impacted us. Then through our relationships that we establish through this ministry and their stories they have shared with us, we can show them the life of Jesus and invite them into the same relationship with Him that we ourselves have.
Along with the guidelines and further reading, I want to open up my services to you. If you read something in this curriculum that does not make sense, disagree with a passage and want to know why I went a certain direction, or just need to talk more about the curriculum, book, students, or something else, please contact me. You can reach me by phone at 567-204-2286 or at [email protected] and I would love to help.
God Bless, Jeremy
I love to encourage my volunteers, and am always trying to find new ways to do so. There are many ways to do this, but I wanted to come up with the best for each volunteer and so each one was a different way. Here are four types of volunteers and great gift ideas for them:
For The Small Group Volunteer.
The small group volunteers we have work directly with students in a very relational setting, which setup the perfect gift specifically for them. To say thank you to them, I mass txt’ed the students who attend that small group four hours before they were to meet without the volunteer’s knowledge. The text asked the students to come with a written story of what the leader has affected them. The result of this was amazing: the stories were full of memories and thanksgiving, the volunteer just soaked it in, and the group grew a little closer that night.
For The Volunteer Who Loves Gifts.
I could have given them a Starbucks gift card so that they could use sometime that year, but for those with a gift love language, it is more of the purpose behind the gift and the effort put into it. All year, I had asked seemingly random questions to my volunteers, but I was trying to get to this point. What was their love language, and what could I give to them. For my one volunteer who fit this category, they loved a simple Vanilla Latte from Starbucks, so I bought that drink, put it inside a custom youth group mug and included a card that was signed by all the students. They loved that I both remembered that drink and the card that came with it.
For the Volunteer Who Is “Retiring”
I do not have one of these this year, but it was a possibility and I wanted to be ready for it if need be. Collecting all the memories, a student and I made a 10 minute video of the pictures from the years they had served so far and at the end recorded some of thank you’s from current and former students. We ended up saving the project for a year or two later when they do “retire,” but think it will be an amazing gift for them then.
For the New Volunteer
The perfect gifts for the one or two year volunteers could very well be a ton of youth group apparel and merchandise. For those on tight budgets, shirts that you have left over from earlier camps or years before they volunteered might be perfect for them. Other ideas could be a custom youth group travel mug, youth ministry books, paid admission to youth worker training, or other stuff. This is not to be cheap, but to help create culture and environment with them so that they feel like they belong. When they show up to the next event or lead the group again, they will have the swag.
One of the toughest parts of youth ministry is finding volunteers who want to donate their time (and sometimes money) to a cause as wonderful as your ministry. In large churches, you are not the only people asking for volunteers, probably cannot run without volunteers, and life revolves around equipping and encouraging them. In smaller churches, sometimes you have to validate the need for volunteers (isn’t this your job?) as well as finding volunteers that are passionate enough to work with students and catch your vision for ministry. Here are three ways to find volunteers for your ministry:
Always Let People Know Of The Opportunity. Do you have enough volunteers for the year? Awesome! Keep letting people know they can somehow help with youth ministry. You never can have to many people on call to help. And if you do not have enough, make it less about the urgency of finding a volunteer and more about what they could be doing. We at USAFA Club Beyond have multiple ways to serve, from something non-threatening as writing every student in our ministry a birthday card to the challenging and time-committed one-on-one discipleship with individual students to go deep in their faith.
Have A Volunteer Champion. You might already have that one volunteer that really should have your job and you have naturally built a friendship with them. What a blessing! If you go up front of your congregation to ask for volunteers, have them come up with you so they see someone else who gets it. Maybe even allow that volunteer to share why they are serving, what they do, and why more volunteers are necessary. If you do not yet have that volunteer, think of who you would want that person to be and look for them in your ministry. Maybe they are already volunteering for you and you do not know it or maybe that are about to impact your ministry in so many wonderful ways!
There Is Nothing Better Than Word-Of-Mouth Advertising. It is an old cliche, but treating your volunteers as an invest with cookouts and proper training eventually will pay dividends. They can brag for you and there is nothing better than a volunteer standing with you beside the senior pastor saying how much they like being in your ministry. If they catch the vision of where this ministry is going, they will want to have others joining in on the journey of sharing Christ to these students.