You can’t do youth ministry alone.

Perhaps you already know that. Maybe you even believe that.

Even so, knowing and believing that doesn’t make adult leaders magically appear. You still have to work hard to recruit the right people to be leaders in your youth ministry.

When I first began working as a youth pastor, I regularly ran announcements in our bulletin, asking – maybe even begging – people to serve in our youth ministry. Unfortunately, such announcements rarely produced any fruit. Either no one responded or people not particularly suited for youth ministry responded. So I stopped.

Now, I rely on personal asks.

I ask people I trust for recommendations on who they think would be great leaders in our youth ministry. I ask my adult leaders who they’d like to serve with. I ask teens who they’d like to see serve in our ministry. I prayerfully thumb through the pages of our church directory, considering who might be a hidden gem in our congregation. I watch people on Sunday mornings and ponder who might be a good addition to our team.

Once I’ve compiled a list of names, I send potential leaders an e-mail or give them a call. I tell them directly that I think they’d make a great leader in our youth ministry. But I don’t try to sell them on serving in that e-mail or phone call. I don’t immediately make the ask.

Instead, I ask potential leaders if I can buy them a cup of coffee and spend 45 minutes with them sharing my vision for ministry along with why I think they’d make a great leader.

Here’s what I’ve found.

A potential leader will almost always say yes to a 45-minute conversation and a free cup of coffee.

At the end of that 45-minute conversation, I ask potential leaders to take some time to prayerfully consider serving. Then I promise to follow-up with them, usually at the end of two weeks, and invite them to check back in with me in the meantime if they have additional questions or concerns.

To be sure, a cup of coffee and a 45-minute conversation doesn’t always result in someone saying yes to serving in my youth ministry.

But it does always result in an ally – someone who walks away with a greater understanding and deeper appreciation of my congregation’s youth ministry.

In my book, that’s 45-minutes well spent.