Youth Ministry Tips

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The Core Models for Good Youth Ministry Volunteers

If there's one battle that youth pastors fight constantly, it is the fight to find good, quality volunteers. Youth pastors need volunteer staff that they can count on, and lots of them. It takes some real manpower to run a youth ministry, and the right help can make all the difference.

If you are considering jumping into a student ministry, or if you are a youth pastor looking for the right kind of people to staff your own ministry, consider these three roles:

Task Agents - These volunteers take up a specific, time-sensitive role in youth ministries. Once their job is done, their ministry to the kids goes on hold until they are needed once again. Think about van drivers, providers of snacks, and greeters for Sunday mornings.

Relational Volunteers - A much more flexible role for volunteers in a youth ministry is that of the relational volunteer. These people spend time really getting to know the kids on a deep level, and are good at connecting with student issues. These people do not have to be the "cool" college student; in fact, it is better to get more seasoned leaders who speak with authority into the lives of your students.

Volunteer Coaches - The more experienced of your relational volunteers can also serve as coaches and guides to the other volunteers by providing their experience, wisdom, and temperance to the situations of the less-seasoned leaders.


Communicate Love to Teens You Mentor When They Fail

In youth ministry, volunteers and staff are charged with the task of backing up the role of parents in their students' lives. This requires being an authority in the lives of these kids, but it also requires a good bit of compassion and grace.

Teenagers are kids, and kids make mistakes. While the authority to challenge and confront a student who is making big life mistakes is necessary and shows that you care for their future, grace and patience in dealing with them will draw them to listen to the advice you have for them. Be honest, be truthful, but be compassionate.

A few ideas for showing compassion to teens in the midst of confrontation:

1. Take them out to dinner, and pay the bill

2. Make certain that the parents know about the confrontation, and that they have your permission and support. You are giving your time to help their children, and most often their support will be the greatest success you can have.

3. Open up a confrontation by telling the student that you care for him, and care about his future. Let your care and concern be the reason for the confrontation.

4. Assure the student that you are confronting him because you trust that he is capable of more. Show that you have some faith in his ability to improve.

5. Be firm during the confrontation, and make certain that your point has been heard. When the confrontation is over, and all is (hopefully) resolved, be willing to laugh with the student about something OTHER than the confrontation.

6. Follow up the confrontation by going to see the student compete in an athletic competition, or by offering to spend time doing his favorite activity at another time.


Youth Pastors: Prioritize Time With Your Volunteer Staff

Anyone in a youth pastor role eventually finds that they simply can’t do everything. There is too much on the plate of anyone involved in youth ministry to be able to personally spend time with every student in his or her ministry.

In this, your volunteers are the greatest asset you have. The relational volunteers you have spend more time and have a greater impact on your students than you do. The time that they spend with your students can be a great boon or a great hindrance if your volunteers are not on the same page with you.

Use your time to have the greatest impact possible; spend time training and investing into your volunteers. Plan regular lunches with volunteers and spend time talking through your ministry philosophy, tell them what you value as a ministry, and give them ideas to connect better with the students they have influence with. If possible, pick up the tab…your care goes a long way.


Keep a Written Record to Protect Your Youth Ministry

In youth ministry, there are many things that can happen to call your decision-making into question. Working with youth puts you on the front lines with a people group who are masters as manipulating information and presenting a less-than-complete account of what happens in any given event. In today's legal climate, this can be a recipe for disaster for your youth ministry if you are not prepared to answer unfounded accusations or the misrepresentation of facts.

Keep a copy of everything in your ministry. Emails, voicemail recordings, even text messages can be misused if someone is unhappy with the way you have handled a given situation.

Also, try keeping a log of anything that happens that could be significant or lead to a misunderstanding. Mark down times and dates of important phone calls, and any pertinent information from the conversation. When you observe students putting themselves in compromising situations, write it down. The more complete the information you have is, the better prepared you are to answer those who might challenge your decision making or authority.

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Kristle Jones