In youth ministry, one of the hardest things we do is make sure we have enough volunteers to efficiently allow our ministries to run at the best of their ability. We all have horror stories of being understaffed and wanting to lie down in a corner in the fetal position. To avoid this, the best way we can recruit volunteers is by retaining the ones we already have. When volunteers stay a part of a ministry, their prints are left on the students involved and not just another volunteer that was a part of things for a short amount of time. In leading volunteers who stay versus go, here are some tips to help you retain your leaders.
Train your leaders.
It’s amazing to me when I hear how often volunteers are not trained. They will only know what we teach them. If we want our ministries to grow spiritually and numerically, then we need to help our leaders grow, too. There are many ways you can train your volunteers. We try to gather once a month and watch a training video to discuss. If a leader is not available to attend the training, we send the video and discussion guide for them to have in their possession. Training our leaders will go a long way in helping them to learn and stay in youth ministry.
Give your leaders a job description.
Sometimes, our leaders will leave because they have no idea what they are supposed to be doing. They come each week to youth group, but stand in a corner away from the group because they don’t know what they are supposed to be doing. We can expect our leaders to do different things like clean the tables after a meal, greet students as they come in, or to be involved with students and not other leaders, but it does not always mean they will. When we give our leaders a job description, it lays out what they are supposed to do and what they are to avoid so they can be great leaders in the youth group.
Make the vision stick.
We all have a vision for where we believe God is calling our youth ministry to go. Do our leaders know what that vision is? Vision helps leaders to find clarity as to why they do, what they do. The vision we have needs to be communicated to our leaders, so they don’t lose sight of what God is doing and going to do in the youth ministry. When leaders understand what is going on and why, they are more likely to continue to follow the vision and stay a part of teenagers’ lives.
Say thank you…a lot.
Our leaders serving in our ministry go out of their way to give up personal hours to be a part of the youth ministry. They make a huge difference. Without them, we would fail. With them, we succeed. We should say thank you a lot for the continuous work they do. A simple thank you can go a long way. It shows them we value what they do and the impact that they make in life of the youth ministry. One of the biggest things we can to do to lead volunteers who stay is showing gratitude towards them.
Pay them for what they do.
Now, I am not saying pay them actual money, but we can and should compensate our volunteers for what they do. Paying our volunteers is another way to show gratitude and value for our volunteer leaders. They aren’t expecting to be paid for what they do, so when we do it shows them we care. Volunteers want to be cared for by their leader and paying them in gifts is a great way to do that. I buy something small each month for my volunteers to show them appreciation. Here is a list of gift ideas that you can use:
• Buy them their favorite soda to drink at youth group.
• Buy them their favorite candy bar.
• Get $5 gift cards to their favorite restaurant.
• Bake cookies for leaders to have before youth group.
• Take your leaders to do something fun like an escape room.
• Buy them a book to help them in their leadership.
Our volunteers do a lot for us in our youth ministries. We want them to stay, so we should show that we want them to stay. There are many ways you can do that, but these five ideas are a great place to start in leading volunteers who stay versus volunteers who go.
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