This post is from regular guest poster Mark Seager, Associate Pastor at Cedar Run Community Church and a really good friend of mine. Check out his latest offering as I think he has great wisdom from a person who oversees the Youth and Family Ministries at Cedar Run.
You’ve probably dozed through the pre-takeoff safety announcements before thinking you’ve heard them a zillion times…and “what are the chances of something happening anyway?” But there’s an important life and ministry lesson embedded in the announcement: Put your own oxygen mask on before helping anyone else.
Our youth workers must be hearing from God themselves if they are to have lasting impact for good with our students. Recruiting volunteers to student ministry is not easy. It takes a special person to play chubby bunny, act crazy in skits, and spend time hanging out with teens. Anybody willing to do those things has potential to be a great youth leader, but too often we stop there.
The sad reality is that many youth workers aren’t fed through conventional channels (e.g. church service) because they’re busy with the youth ministry. So how do they get the adult fellowship and teaching they need?
Once a volunteer has joined the team, part of our responsibility is to see that we’re nurturing the leaders and helping them grow in Christ. If we want our teens to be growing in Christ, we need to be making sure our youth workers are growing in Christ. Each church has different ways of “doing church” so we’ve all got to be creative under the circumstances we have. Some things I’ve done with youth workers to help them get solid spiritual input include:
Small groups: Challenge your leaders to be in a non-student ministry small group. Just as a volunteer pours into younger teens, they in turn need to be poured into by older adults. (Titus 2).
Bible reading plan: Have them do a Bible reading plan then get together regularly to discuss it.
Home church sermons: Ask them to sign up for your pastor’s sermons and listen to them when they exercise or commute or whenever is convenient. I suggest your home church pastor (not just big name speakers) because this will also get you on the same wavelength as your congregation. If you want to listen to the big name speakers that’s fine, just do them as well as and not in lieu of your own local church.
Mentoring: Consider finding a mature Christian of the same sex from your church who can meet regularly for encouragement and prayer.
Adult Education classes: They’re called all sorts of things…ABFs, Sunday School, Training Courses, etc. and they’re often offered outside of the main service times.
These are just some ideas. I don’t recommend a person does all of these and help out with youth at the same time! If your youth workers are going to make a lasting impact for good with students, they need to be growing in Christ themselves.
What do you do to help your volunteers grow?