Everyone loves a hero. There’s just something that stirs within us when a hero shows up to save the day.
As I recently sat with strangers in a sold out theatre, I observed (and participated in) the spontaneous applause when the hero did something that proved he was fighting for something bigger than himself – when he was fighting for something that mattered.
For those of us who lead collegiate and young adult ministries, there are heroes in our midst every single time we gather. We could never do what we do without the volunteers who give their time and efforts to invest into the lives of college students and young adults.
However, my question to those of us who are leaders (even those of us who volunteer in leadership roles) is: Are we showing our volunteers that we value their time and energy? As you ponder that question, here a three things to think about as you create a culture of volunteers.
1. You can never say “Thank You” enough.
Heroes aren’t volunteering in your ministry for the recognition. They’ve said yes to leading a small group, providing snacks, or running the sound board because they believe ministry with college students and young adults is important. They could invest their time and energy a lot of other places, but they’ve chosen to be advocates for reaching young adults. They give something very valuable – their time!
When individuals are helping you in any aspect of ministry, you can never fully show enough appreciation. But saying “thank you” while setting up for a Sunday morning gathering can go a long way. A volunteer who gets a text on a Wednesday night after hosting a small group of young adults in their home means a lot. The lost art of actually writing a handwritten note could even win you the college/young adult “minister of the year award.”
However you do it, take the time to create a culture of thanks for your volunteers.
2. Make sure they are a part of the team.
Heroes do some pretty amazing things on their own, but they do extraordinary things when they’re doing them in a team effort. Gather your volunteers periodically to plan out the next few months/year of the collegiate/young adult ministry in your church. When you get several volunteers together, you’ll have an incredible think tank of people who have a heart for reaching college students and young adults.
We all like to know where we’re going, so make sure your volunteers know where the team is headed and allow them to contribute to the ministry journey with young adults.
3. Pray and celebrate the wins together.
One aspect we often neglect with our volunteers is praying with and for them. Nothing says you care for ministry volunteers like spending time in prayer with them, both individually and as a group. Pray for their specific contribution to the collegiate/young adult ministry in your church. Also pray for the young adults who are part of your ministry.
Volunteers usually have a lot of other responsibility outside of the ministry. Be aware of what’s going on with their families, work, and their walk with Christ. Take time to minister to your volunteers when necessary. And never forget to celebrate the ministry wins with your volunteers–those significant markers that make ministry worth it.
As we begin to see our volunteers as heroes, celebrating their significant contributions to weekly collegiate and young adult ministry, we’ll see people who are willing to put their time and efforts into things that really matter. Ultimately, we’ll help foster true heroes.
Mark Whitt is a collegiate minister with Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN. Connect with Mark via Twitter.