Recruiting Student Ministry Volunteers

For a church to have a healthy student ministry it needs more than just a student pastor or director. A good student ministry should certainly be led by a gifted, passionate pastor or director but that person will need a solid team of volunteers working alongside them. It’s important student pastors understand this and make recruiting volunteers a priority in their ministry.

Recruiting volunteers seems like a never ending task in student ministry. One of the big things I do every summer is recruit new volunteers. It’s part of the job of being in charge of a student ministry. I want to suggest a few tips that have helped me in regards to recruiting volunteers.

Don’t make a desperate call, instead, personally recruit volunteers. The easiest way to recruit volunteers for your ministry is to put something in the bulletin or say something from upfront during announcements. This isn’t the worst thing you can do but it certainly makes it difficult as you will have many people “sign up” and you may have to turn some of them down because they are not a good fit. However, if you’re willing to just let anyone serve in your student ministry you can go this route. I’d caution anyone on this and encourage them instead to personally recruit volunteers rather than just make a massive call. This will allow you to find the right people for your ministry. This takes much more time and energy but I believe it’s the best way to recruit volunteers for your ministry. Before moving on, let me just add this – if you are going to make a call for volunteers (whether that’s online, in the bulletin, or from upfront) be sure to have a application process so you can find the right volunteers. More on this process next.

Have a process. Don’t just let people sign up and become a volunteer without you having them go through a short process. This doesn’t have to be anything crazy. Our process for bringing new volunteers on board is pretty simple. First, I meet with them one on one to share with them what our ministry looks like and explain to them the areas they can serve. During this meeting I usually try and find out where they best fit within our ministry based on their passions and gifts. Second, they fill out a short application. This allows me to get to know them a bit more and gives them the opportunity to share their faith story. Sometimes people will fill the application out before I meet with them. Third, we background check the potential volunteer. Everyone that serves in our ministry must have a background check. Whatever your process is, please don’t skip this! This is important for your church and for the safety of your students. Once these three steps have happened I bring the volunteer on board and they start to serve.

Look for young and old. Strive to not have a volunteer team that is made up of people of the same age. It’s easy for student pastors to fall into the trap of thinking the best volunteers are college students and young adults. There are many valuable things this age group brings to the table so by all means recruit them! However, realize some of the best student ministry volunteers in your church may be older individuals. Strive to build your volunteer team with people from all age groups and seasons of life. This will bring excitement, balance, and maturity to your team.

This is just a few tips to help you recruit volunteers for your student ministry. Here are a few resources that may help you in this area: Everyone’s Called to Youth Ministry by Darren Sutton, The New Breed by Jonathan McKee and Thomas McKee, and Youth Pastor (chapter 9) by Houston Heflin.

Do You Have a Plan for Students Who Come to Faith?

new_christians_341241708The most rewarding thing for a student pastor is seeing a student come to faith in Christ. But when a student comes to Christ, that’s only the beginning. Of course, rejoice and celebrate with them, but don’t leave them there. We need to have a plan in place to help students who come to Christ move forward in their new life with Christ.

A few weeks ago one of our students came to faith in Christ on our high school missions trip. It was awesome to see this student, who has been part of our ministry for awhile, finally understand the Gospel and place her faith in Christ as her Savior. My wife and I rejoiced with her. The other students rejoiced with her. It was awesome! But I knew we couldn’t just stop at rejoicing, we had to help her build a foundation and help her get started in her new walk with Christ. As I started brainstorming with my wife I realized we didn’t have a plan. We didn’t have a process that we take students through when they become believers. I realized that if we don’t get a plan in place we will see students who are new to Christianity fall through the cracks and struggle in their new found faith.

I can’t speak as an expert on this because like I just said, we didn’t have a plan in place. We are currently working on one right now and using it to help this student grow in her walk with Christ. However, here are a few thoughts I’d like to share in regards to having a plan in place for students who come to faith while in your ministry. These are things I’m learning along the way.

1. Start the process quickly. Whatever your process is, whether it’s going through a book or getting them plugged into a small group, get things rolling right after the student becomes a believer. Don’t waste anytime!

2. Find a good resource. The process we are working with right now is having an adult leader of the same sex meet with the student one on one to go through a short booklet called First Steps: The Adventure Begins. This booklet is broken down into six short (I mean very short!) chapters that help a student understand what they just did and how they can start growing in their walk with Christ. So we have the adult leader meet with the student six times in a period of two months. Another great resource you may want to look at is New: First Steps for New Christ Followers by Youth Ministry 360. I haven’t looked into this resource too much myself, but my friend Josh Evans wrote a short review of this resource here.

3. Make sure they get plugged into your ministry. If the student is not part of your ministry or maybe only comes a few times a year, make sure they get plugged into what you are doing. Encourage them to become part of the large group and place them in one of your small groups. Becoming a vital part of community is key to their spiritual growth.

What plan do you have in place for students who come to faith in your student ministry? Don’t just make up a plan as you go, put a plan together beforehand so when a student comes to faith you can quickly start helping them grow in their faith.