it’s summer time right now, which for us in student ministry means it’s all about the fall and prepping for the start of a new ministry year… (all while still running the ministry, summer events, and late night conversations with teens). one of the things we are all working hard at during this season is recruiting new volunteers to join us in this worthy cause in september. when a potential volunteer expresses an interest in serving in our student ministry, i take them through this 5-step process. it’s definitely not perfect, but it’s working for us right now:
- come, check it out! i wanna know for sure that they even want to serve in this area. do they have a passion for teens, or do they run when they enter the room? do they relate well to students, or are they insecure, awkward, and frightened? this is just as much for the volunteer as it is for me. i wanna see how they react in the room and i want them to have an accurate picture of our ministry before we start really talking specifics. i usually ask them to come for 4-6 weeks before anything else happens.
- roll out the paperwork! we have a formal application that i then give to them. with it i also give out a background check authorization form. all of our volunteers have had background checks run, and it’s important for me to be able to tell new parents that as they check out our ministry. we use a company called protect my ministry, but there’s lots of great ones out there. in case it can be helpful, here’s the application we give out:
- take some time! i tell them from the beginning that i’m a lazy youth pastor (not really… but that it might seem like i am). i take my time looking over the application, brainstorming how they could specifically fit & contribute in our ministry, how their personality will gel with the others on the team, etc. i’ve learned the hard way that it’s way easier to say “no” at this stage rather than to say “yes” now and then try to get them off later.
- do the interview! even though it’s not a paid position doesn’t mean the interview has to be any less formal. it’s a high calling and an extremely important role in the church. going into the interview i pretty much know whether we’re going to bring them on or not, and we use this time to discuss specific roles, how their experience and story will affect their leadership over students, and some potential next steps for them to take before joining the team. sometimes we do say “no” to this specific ministry role, but i work hard to provide them a list of other areas in the church where their unique gifts and abilities can be used instead.
- announce it to the teens! once they’re added to the team, it’s important that we let our students know this is someone they’ll track with over the next few years and someone they can trust. we usually bring them up front on a sunday morning. and ideally we try to get them to share their story with the teens within a few weeks. i love this fun video that this one youth ministry has been using lately to introduce their new leaders: