10 Ways Youth Pastors Can Equip Their Volunteer Leaders


It's easy for Youth & Student Pastors to forget that their young volunteer leaders - just like the students - are still searching for their own acceptance and guidance as well. They may know that they love students and want to lead, but they still desperately need direction and help. They need leaders they can watch and emulate. They need leaders who intentionally spend time investing in their volunteers.

Here are 10 things your volunteer leaders in your Youth Ministry need from their Student Ministry staff

1. Dependability

Your leaders need to know that you’re going to follow through on what you say you will do. If you are not able to do that, they will be far less motivated to rely on you and your leadership. 

2. Time

They need you to give them the time of day. Create margin in your days and weeks so you can invest in your volunteer leaders and be able to respond to issues that may come up.

3. Love & Encouragement

Show your student leaders that you care. Get to know your volunteers so that you can understand how to best appreciate them. Throw a handwritten note or a Starbucks gift card in the mail. Give someone a shout out from the stage. Even a simple high-five as your walking through the hallway can speak volumes.

Your student leaders desperately want to be known. Tweet: Your student leaders desperately want to be known. https://bit.ly/1TX0DmD via @VanderbloemenSG

Let them know that you know and appreciate them by acknowledging their service in your ministry every opportunity you get. 

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4. Respect

Be very mindful about how you and your team talk about and treat your student leaders. I guarrantee that everything you say (or don’t say) about their leadership will be remembered. Treat them like a valuable part of your ministry, because they are.

Don’t treat your Student Ministry staff like a high schoolers. If you treat them like high schoolers, they will act like high schoolers. If you interact and speak to them like adults and leaders, that leaves margin and space for them to step up and fill. The moment they feel like you are talking down to them is the moment they will stop trusting you.

5. Trust

Your student leaders need to know that you trust them. Tweet: Your student leaders need to know that you trust them. https://bit.ly/1TX0DmD via @VanderbloemenSG

Let them do things that matter. Don’t always have your student leaders just pass out papers or stack chairs. Give them real responsibility in the ministry and watch them rise to the occasion.

Let them make announcements, run games, teach a message, etc. When students are called to high responsibility, their buy-in to the vision, mission, and values of our ministry skyrockets. They no longer just attend your program, they are owning it.

6. Feedback

Do not forget to give your leaders feedback. Positive or negative, let your volunteer leaders know how they’re doing. And don’t err on the side of either, share both. This is a time where they are learning a lot about themselves, so let them know what you see as real strengths in them and things that they can continue to work on.

The leaders who speak into high schoolers' lives have the power to change the trajectory of their lives and help them figure out who God has made them to be. 

7. Self-Care Exemplified

You cannot effectively lead if you aren’t taking time to invest in yourself. Tweet: You cannot effectively lead if you aren’t taking time to invest in yourself.  https://bit.ly/1TX0DmD via @VanderbloemenSG

Take vacations. Disconnect from social media and technology for at least a few hours every week. Make sure your family is your first priority. High schoolers are intuitive, they will know when you are not operating at full capacity or are not fully engaged. Give yourself a chance to refuel, and model healthy priorities. 

8. Guidance

Let your student leaders know that you are always there to provide whatever help and guidance they may need. If you have given them a task or responsibility, be available for their questions.

9. Tools

Make sure your student leaders have everything they need to be successful at something. Perhaps you could start sending out discussion guides for the program a couple of days prior so your leaders can review it and feel prepared before they get there.

Don’t give them a task without explaining how to succeed. If they don’t know what a “win” is, chances are they will carry out the task timidly and most likely won’t hit the mark. Equip them for success.

10. Second Chances

Let your student leaders know that they won’t get everything right all the time, and that is absolutely okay. Even if they fail, help them walk through the process of debriefing and figuring out how to handle the situation in the future. Remember, these leaders are young. So if you don’t take the time to care for them and give them another chance to get it right, they will remember that and be far less inclined to step up and take leadership opportunities next time.

Leadership leaks, both effective leadership and ineffective leadership. Your impressionable high school leaders are being molded and formed right before your eyes. What you model for your student leaders through your words and actions is what they will follow and what will shape the type of leader they become.

What do you want them to remember about you as a leader? What kind of legacy will you leave? 

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