As many of you know I have worked with junior high students for several years now. Throughout the time that I have spent trying to work with students I have also had several experiences working with volunteers. I have tried doing ministry without volunteers. I have tried to let volunteers do ministry. I have also tried to find that special balance of what volunteers want and need to do. I have had volunteers that want to sit in the back of the room and just watch, some want to teach, some just want to spend time talking and building relationships with students. So what is the best thing for volunteers to do? What do we really need them to do in junior high ministry?
Even as recently as last week I was talking to a prospective volunteer, and they asked me what would I have to do. Just like junior high students, our volunteers want to know what is expected of them. Our adults want to know that they have a responsibility beyond just being an adult in the room.
It is easy to decide that you are going to do everything by yourself instead of letting one of your volunteers take responsibility for something. In the past couple years I have really tried to release some volunteers to do ministry. As a junior high minister, I have to realize that I do not just minister to students. A large part of ministry in any age group is providing opportunities to serve. I have been trying to take steps to give some of these opportunities to the volunteers that help at our church.
There are many ways you can challenge your adults to get more involved.
1. Volunteers can help with planning. You can call them up and ask them questions about an event or lesson you are planning. I find people much more excited about something when they have invested in it. It is also easier for them to help evaluate and plan when they know the thought process that has gone in to past events.
2. Volunteers can lead activities for you. Several of my volunteers have enjoyed planning and facilitating games in the past, so I continue to let them do that from time to time. A couple of years ago I had 2 volunteers that wanted to plan our Christmas party. I encouraged them to do this, and it was the best party I think we have ever had.
3. Let students hear your volunteers voice. Let them pray, give announcements, or even teach. If you are providing good visual advertisement for events then let your adults talk about them. I know there are times I get tired of hearing my own voice, so surely my students would like to hear from somebody different.
4. Let volunteers try different things. I have had adults try something in the past and realize that it wasn’t the best fit for them. Maybe you have a volunteer that is best fit at learning names and taking attendance. Maybe you have an adult that can be the enforcer (a loving enforcer of course). Possibly you have somebody who is just a great relationship builder while playing games with students. Don’t think that every adult has to do the same thing to be a good volunteer.
You will discover over time that the more involved your volunteers are the more they like doing ministry. If they like doing ministry then they are going to make an even bigger impact on your students. When my students are impacted for Jesus, this is when I absolutely love my job.
I guess what I’m trying to share with you is this: If you want to enjoy your job and be successful at pointing your students to follow Jesus then you need to get volunteers involved, show them you appreciate them, and let them do ministry.
If you do this then you will get to see some amazing ministry take place. You also may see some of the funniest things happen in ministry as people try and learn.
I would love to hear your stories about working with volunteers. What has worked? What hasn’t worked? Share your stories in the comments below!