Have you ever felt as if you were swimming against the current, going the opposite direction and all the while trying to get everyone else to turn and swim with you? This is what my first year on staff as a youth pastor felt like.
When I arrived on scene almost 3 years ago, accepting the position of student pastor at my church, I was handed a hefty job description. This job description was littered with a myriad of bullet points, given the focus each needed to succeed I knew (God willing) I would be in this position for some time. Most of my interview process 3 years ago was zeroed in on questions like…
- “Can you build a team?”
- “Can you recruit leaders?”
- “Do you know how to make leaders of leaders?”
I don’t have it all together. I’m not the best youth pastor out there and I have had my fair share of
failures learning moments. Even so, God has allowed me to continue to partner with Him to build the student ministry I believe He desires. Exchanging war stories with other youth pastors it seems my humble beginnings at a new church may not be too rare…
I started with 18 volunteers and from those original 18 I had lost 12 of them in changing of the old guard and in with the new… leaving me with 6 original volunteers between both middle school and high school ministry at a mega church. If my “job” was to grow a team of Christ-following volunteers, this was not a good start. Yet, looking back it was necessary to follow through on hard conversations and feel out who was committed to our program and small group strategy under my leadership.
With God’s favor, alongside my own perseverance, sweat, and tears I have had the privilege of leading and growing a team of 6 original volunteers to now a team of 60 volunteers over the last 3 years! Over the past few months I have even implemented a coaching strategy in which 7 well seasoned, solid Christ-following adults are helping me shepherd this group of volunteers. I will not take all the credit for this, as even my volunteers have recruited volunteers, and my partnership with the NextGen team over the past year has been highly beneficial in adding to this number. Did I mention my wife? Calla has been a wealth of leadership, counsel and discipleship for my lady leaders.
I have learned a few things along the way that I believe are detrimental in recruiting and developing leaders in student ministry.
- Prayer. If you really are trusting God to provide, then keep asking Him to provide the people you need in your ministry.
- Belief. If you don’t believe in your mission, vision and strategy neither will your leaders. You must continue to model your belief in what your ministry stands for.
- Perseverance. Despite hard conversations, volunteers quitting, and even seeing some lose trust in you along the way, keep going and push through.
- Duplication. Until you duplicate yourself into someone else, you will always do everything you are doing now.
Where do you feel stuck when it comes to recruiting and developing volunteers for your ministry?
Cindy Hawks says
So proud of you Chris! (messed up on the first attempt of my comment :D)
Chris Parker says
Thanks Mrs. Hawks! So grateful for all things learned in my growing up and time at HCBC!
Sean Chandler says
I can’t say enough positive things about my team of volunteers.
I broke my foot (this was last week) and was put on bed rest (for two weeks) two days before our Captains Camp where I was doing all the teaching. My volunteers stepped in and took over the entire thing for me and it didn’t skip a beat. In a lot of ways it was probably better than if I had been there because I probably would have talked too much, and not let students talk enough.
Then this weekend with Easter coming up we were planning on doing a massive overhaul of the youth room. Once again, they’ve taken over the entire project from me since I’m stuck in bed.
It really is a game changer when you start functioning as a team instead of as a one man show.
Sean. Sorry about your foot dude! That’s awful, but what a neat thing to see your volunteers jump in and take care of things, what a blessing it is to have a great team of volunteers!
On the flip, if everything goes better when I’m not around…what does that say about me? Hmmm