Worn out by doing ministry alone? Want your ministry with young adults to last? How do you find and empower good volunteers? How do you dive beyond the ‘fun event’ into true substance in your teaching? Read on as we discuss some of the difficulties and challenges facing these tasks.
Why do so many churches have difficulty securing a strong volunteer base?
Recruiting, training and maintaining good volunteers is a struggle any church will always deal with. That’s because it is something that has to be attended to constantly. You never arrive and have no more needs to care for your volunteers. There are many reasons why churches struggle with developing strong volunteers. I will only list 3 in an attempt to be succinct. First, volunteers are not a true value at most churches. Although most everyone believes that they are valuable, few churches actually value the people who are volunteers or the process of creating volunteers. Being a volunteer in that environment does not seem very valuable, therefore, no one aspires to serve. We must learn to celebrate volunteers, and hold them up as champions and honor them. Second, most churches do not do a good job of cultivating volunteers by training them through a process of apprenticing. Most volunteers are thrown into the fire of serving without training or coaching. Therefore, they either fail because of a lack of support, or clash with leadership because they are forced to define success for themselves, or the lucky few succeed despite huge odds stacked against them. The third reason churches struggle securing a strong volunteer base that we will mention here is the lack of providing good care and leadership for the volunteers themselves. This means that there is a huge swinging back door for volunteers and many of them don’t last long-term and churches have to constantly replace their volunteers. Most volunteers are destined for a collision course towards burnout because most of the leaders who recruited them did not stay connected to them. The volunteers need to know that they are valued and known by their leadership. It takes a rare volunteer to work isolated from staff leadership.
What type of teaching schedule/theme (if any) would you recommend a ministry seeking to reach young adults use?
What people need to hear in a young adult ministry depends a lot on the location and target audience. However, for your average ministry I would encourage a combination of felt needs that people are struggling with combined with an exegetical study of a passage of scripture. It is very important to teach through a passage of scripture for the majority of your messages. I think a teaching schedule that had six or seven 4-5 week series a year that focused on a variety of themes that people deal with would be ideal. Some good themes would be a work series, one on waiting on God for his will in your life, a couple of character studies from OT and NT characters, a series on managing conflict, and, of course, the staple of young adult ministries: a relationship series on dating and love. That one is a home run every time.
Which is more important? The look or the content of your teaching and gathering time?
Well this one seems like a no-brainer. But I believe the answer isn’t as simple as this question might seem. Of course, the content of your message is the most important part of what you say and are doing in a message. Without it you really have nothing. Unfortunately, many younger guys forget this in a quest for relevance. They forget that the most unique thing about a message is that you are communicating the mind of God to men and women. It isn’t all about the message, either. If the message is not delivered in an appealing package no one will want to listen to it or apply it either on the sheer principle that they don’t like you or it. So, presentation is extremely important too! Really for any communication, the form and the message are both vitally important for the story of God to be heard.
This article was originally published August 6, 2007