I’ve had great volunteers. They’ve worked hard with me. Some were with me for a year, some almost a decade. Part of my role is to evaluate and re-evaluate them to see if they need to make a shift in the ministry laterally to another position or if they need to make an exit to another ministry.
In my last ministry I struggled with how to re-engage our youth ministry volunteers. Our youth ministry was pretty loose. Our youth ministry was pretty loose because our church was pretty loose. That’s the culture of this small, southern church.
We averaged around 15-20 kids a week. We had events. Our weekly meetings are almost self starting because kids came in, knew what to do, and they generally and genuinely loved each other.
Because we didn’t have a large group and because of the culture, there wasn’t a ton of stuff for volunteers to do and creating more work for the sake of more work just wouldn’t work.
So, at the end of the year, I did some re-evaluating of the ministry and our volunteers and there are some questions I am needing to ask. If you’re in a similar situation, I hope my thinking out loud benefits you too.
My first question was: Why Does This Youth Ministry Need You?
This is a strange question, right? Yet I have to ask it. It’s all about leverage. Youth Ministry volunteers have leverage if I absolutely need them to run the program I’ve designed or if the kids needs are so great they need other adults in their life to help them along.
The task side of the ministry is so small I could do it myself. In other words, If I am creating jobs for my volunteers to do, I can also uncreate jobs too and not lose anything by doing so.
At the time, I had too much leverage, and that’s a bad thing. Much of what can be done in our youth ministry could be done by our college students or younger. It’s possible that I could just scale the ministry down and phase out the few volunteers I have, but that would also be a bad thing, in my opinion.
I asked this question to my volunteers and one of them said, “I don’t think this youth ministry needs me” To which I replied, “The youth meeting doesn’t need you, but the youth do.” This particular volunteer had lost their place. I knew that and she did too, but asking this question put it all on the table without a confrontation.
Some of my volunteers were going through a season; a season of personal battles, a season of kids, a season of job change, and a season of working hard to make ends meet. I’m empathic to those struggles and I have to make graceful decisions in light of that.
There is a follow up to this question, “Why do you need this youth ministry?” The answers varied but they all said the same thing, “I want to make a difference” and “I want to be of value.”
At this point, after some though and counsel, I need to put the leverage back in their court. I need to build more value into the program and give them a sense of pride and meaning again. I want, scratch that, I need them to feel like their contribution matters.
“Good leaders ask great questions that inspire others to dream more, think more, learn more, do more, and become more.”
― John C. Maxwell, Good Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation for Successful Leadership
Question number two: What Is Your Passion Level?