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NOTE: This one is from the archives (August 6, 2012)
It’s a busy season for us in Boston. Our Youth Ministry is still a few weeks away from launching for the fall, and we are in the midst of heavy planning of sermons for now through may, small group curriculum writing, event planning, and much more. It’s supposed to still be “Vacation” but I know I’ll be in need of one as soon as summer is over.
Currently, we are doing the final rounds of getting with each and every youth ministry volunteer over lunch or coffee to talk about the coming year, several of the changes we are making, why we are making them, where they want to be this year, and the most important thing, making the ask, “Will you come back for another year?” I would love to someday get to the point of having all our volunteers make commitments to serve for 6 years, but right now, were still on a somewhat year by year basis.
However, one of the biggest changes we are making this year to our Student Ministry is the role of volunteers, giving them a great deal more responsibility/freedom to do ministry, but thats a post for another day.
But, if we expect more out of our volunteers, we have to do more for our volunteers. We cant just let them loose and hope for the best, there does come a bit of training, of modeling and showing the example, but there also comes a bit of investing in what they are doing.
Over the last 3 weeks and the next 3 weeks, I’ve had 3-5 meetings with different volunteers. What I have enjoyed is getting some great feedback from last year, and seeing our volunteers really get excited about this coming year of Ministry and where we want to go. It’s not always easy hearing critiques, but I also believe we don’t need a bunch of “Yes Men” or women on our volunteer staff. Meeting one-on-one provides the space needed for volunteers to be open and honest, and I need to hear their real thoughts on how some things went, as well as their thoughts moving forward with those things. The only exception to the one-on-one meetings is with our female leaders, my wife joins me on those.
We’ve had on the calendar for the last few months a night for our volunteers to come together and just have a good time. We had some crazy plans, but a lot of them kind of went by the wayside due to budget concerns, but we wanted to still have a good time with our team. We’re going to go play laser tag, because nothing brings unity like a bit of competition, and then come back to our house for a dinner, possibly swimming, and just hanging out as friends for a few hours.
This year, one of our strategic changes is promotion of the ministry, getting the word out that we are here. One of the ways we are doing that is attempting to get t-shirts for anything and everything we can. We wanted to get a special shirt just for our volunteers to set them apart at Youth Group Services and Sunday Mornings, so that people would know “these are volunteers.”
We also wanted to invest in training, like I mentioned before. This year, we are getting all of our volunteers the book Lead Small by Reggie Joiner and Tom Shefchunas . We’ll probably get them all another book in the spring semester, just dont know what it is, and with both we will work through the books together over the course of a few weeks.
But this is quite the investment in every volunteer, and the upfront cost can be kind of scary, but at the same time, I am fully assured this is the best investment we can make in our student ministry.