People often say it takes a village to raise a child. I have found that is also true in youth ministry. As any good youth worker knows, to lead a fruitful youth ministry it takes a village. Specifically for us in ministry that includes parents and our adult volunteer leaders. I love my adult volunteer leaders. They are some of the most compassionate, dependable, loving, committed people I know and they love our students with all they have. They are also some of my best friends. We have a high retention rate for our adult leaders, and that has helped our students know that these leaders are committed to them and the ministry and has allowed deeper relationships to form between my students and my leaders.
Here are 4 simple ways that I have found helpful in not only keeping great adult leaders around but more importantly helping them grow in their role and in their walk with God as well.
- Intentional time/mentoring- Just as you are hoping that your adult leaders will pour into your students and help them grow in their understanding of who God is, do the same for your adult leaders. Spend time with them, find out where they are in their walk with the Lord and walk with them as you help them take the next step on that journey of faith. Mentor them as they mentor your students. I try and meet with my male adult leaders on a regular basis over coffee, or a meal and my female assistant meets with our lady leaders. We talk about life, spiritual matters, ministry, and spend some time challenging and encouraging them in their spiritual walks. It shows your leaders that you are interested in them as people and brothers and sisters in Christ, not only as a helper in your ministry.
- Meaningful meetings- It’s essential to bring all of your adult leaders together on a regular basis to meet and connect and make sure everyone is on the same page. The key is to make those meetings worthwhile and not a waste of time. Your adults are already volunteering their time to be there to make it worth it for them. We do a variety of things in our meetings which we hold once a month on the 1st Tuesday (I find it’s helpful if regular meetings are consistent with time and place).
We rotate having someone bring in a dessert/snack of some kind because come on, we are in youth ministry and we love food! We have time to hang out and eating snacks and then go over the events coming up that month. After that we have someone share their faith story. This gives the adults practice sharing their story and allows us to get to know each other on a deeper level. We then study a passage of Scripture together and rotate who facilitates the discussion. This gives me a glimpse into their teaching style but more importantly gets us learning together- it becomes a small group for us as leaders. We take time to share prayer requests for ourselves and our students and check in with each small group to allow leaders to ask us and the rest of the leaders how best to tackle different challenges in their small groups. We end by allowing time for co-leaders to talk about upcoming lessons and get a plan together for their small group for the month. The two hours we spend once a month together makes a huge difference for our leaders and our ministry.
- Show them they matter- Everyone likes to know they are appreciated for what they do, and the same goes for your adult leaders. They take valuable time away from their jobs, families, and friends to spend it pouring into your students- make sure they know how much you appreciate it. Something I do is for our December meeting at Christmas time is cater a nice meal for them. My assistant and I also write each of them a personal Christmas card and a gift card to a local restaurant or store. During the year we also send notes of encouragement and other things that show our appreciation. These small tokens of love and gratitude can go a long way towards affirming your leaders and letting them know you care about them and are invested in them.
- Have fun- Just as you encourage your adults to go and spend time with your students and have fun with them, do the same with your leaders. Plan events several times a year that are merely fun and focused on fellowship. We have taken our leaders to do team building, gone bowling, out to movies, organized progressive dinners, and more. These times build common experiences and deepen friendships and help unite your leaders as one family.
There are certainly more ways to build up your adult leaders, but the important thing is that you take the time to invest in those who are investing in your students. Find ways on a consistent basis to show your adult volunteers how much you appreciate them and what they do and help them grow in their walk with God. You will do more than create a group of youth leaders, you will create a family of believers who are committed and invested in not only your students but in one another as well.