How to Start, Choose, and Sustain Volunteers

I recently heard Chap Clark (professor of youth ministry at Fuller Seminary) talk about the need for 5 positive adult role models outside the immediate family to raise up a healthy young adult.  The role that youth ministry plays in providing adults for that ratio can be burdensome but it doesn’t have to be.

All of us struggle for enough adult leaders in our ministries.  Small group leaders, teachers, mentors, heck even adults to just stand around and build relationships.  But I don’t think it has to be this way.

Before we get into the what, let’s talk about the how.

HOW TO START

Jesus said the harvest is plentiful (Matthew 9:37) the workers are few, pray for workers. Are you spending time begging God to send you workers?  Are you?  If your first plan for raising up leaders isn’t praying for them your battle is that much more up hill than it needs to be.  Praying that God sends you leaders also gives you the opportunity to pray that He prepare them for the work ahead.

Paul talks about how God gives Christians work to accomplish and gifts and talents to be used to build up the church body towards maturity in Ephesians 2 & 4.  Paul says that some are apostles, some are evangelists, some are prophets, some teachers and some shepards.  Now if commentators are right, the early church body in Ephesus only had 30 or so people in it.  Yet if they had all of the people necessary to fill all the roles then even our smallest congregations do to.

How we view what scripture has to say about kingdom workers has huge implications on what we think God can do in raising up leaders to serve along side of us.

HOW TO CHOOSE

Most of us youth workers have been told to search out the best of the best.  The extroverted with an amazing personality.  These are the ones that the kids will flock to and be able to relate to.  But I think we have it all wrong.

David Platt in his book “Radical Together” has a chapter called The Genius of Wrong.  The wrong he talks about is the wrong people.  He goes on to talk about how we need to equip the church to reach their friends, then show them how to follow Jesus and stop being dependent on paid staff, gifted speakers and big buildings to reach the lost.

Last week I was the dean of our camp’s Jr High Week.  I struggled for months to find people to fill all the positions needed to run the week of camp.  Conversations didn’t turn up volunteers, bulletin announcements didn’t turn up volunteers but all along I prayed that God would pull together the right staff needed for the week.  I finally approached a local minister and his wife, who are preparing to go launch a new relational family of disciples who make disciples in South Carolina, about coming out as teachers and being the missions speaker and they said yes.  Another lady in our congregation came to me a few weeks before camp saying that her week had opened up and asked if I still needed people.  Of course I said yes, trying not to show my desperation.  Then came the flood of high schoolers.  A few from our congregation and then teens I knew from Sr High camp that wanted to help just two weeks before camp started.  All said we had 14 workers, 8 of which were high schoolers, 1 college student and 5 adults.

I didn’t know what to expect but before the first night was over I was praising God for the team He assembled.  As the week unfolded and the weight of the struggles that these Jr High students are under came to light you could feel the Holy Spirit was thick in our team.  God masterfully displayed His work in bringing together the wrong people and making them a dream team.  God works like that.

HOW TO SUSTAIN

Acts 4:13 is in the middle of Peter and John being questioned about healing a crippled man.  Peter has just stood up to the council and it says, “they perceived that these were uneducated, common men, and they were astonished.  And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”

Stop overlooking the people God has brought together in your congregation, pray they would step up or God would show you who you should approach and use those people to create the team God intended for you to have.  Give me a small team of teachable people who others can tell have been with Jesus any day over those we perceive to the be the best because of what we think they have to offer.

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