I think when it comes to this topic, I think in an ideal world of perfect ministry we would have a huge budget AND have as many of the best volunteers to have running anything you want who are so passionate about youth ministry as you are. I think it is safe to say, that never is the case. I have had the opportunity to have had worked in both situations: a ministry where we have had more volunteers than we knew what to do with and in a position where the budget is generous. Both are amazing, both are valuable, both would be ideal for having in ministry.

Why budget?

Because you can get any resource you need. You can pull off any event that you can think of and do it well. You can put in anything that will help students experience Jesus through these elements you buy and use. Where I work, I look at everything we put into it is to direct the student to a closer relationship with Jesus. Whether it was through an event we put on, a video we make, a funny and entertaining game, or a sermon illustration, we will program it into our service to help enhance the atmosphere for the student to experience Jesus in a way they ever thought of before. I cannot tell you what a fun aspect of ministry to think of doing something and then having the budget to pull it off.

Why Volunteers?

Let’s be honest, they run the show! There is nothing like a solid volunteer who is sold out for the ministry. Volunteers are the ones who are in the real trenches. They are there at your services, without being paid but just for the love of loving on students. They are out hanging and talking with students, running sound, lights, leading small groups, doing anything that you cant. They are un-replaceable.

What would I choose?

One of the cool parts about my job is that I get to meet, hang out, and talk with a ton of visiting pastors. One of the most asked questions I have gotten when it comes to running the services is, “If you were to strip everything you have down, what would be the top things to running a successful service?”

After having a gracious budget and after having so many gracious volunteers, my answer is always: quality volunteer leaders.

Great leaders make great programs. Real, fruitful, authentic, intentional ministry comes from the relationships in which forms between you and your volunteers and the volunteers and the students. You build a solid, quality team of leaders you will have a solid, and quality atmosphere around your service that no amount of budget will ever be able to buy. I work with an amazing team of sold out volunteers but we are constantly wanting more because we realize the value they bring to the table when it comes to the relationships they are building with our students.

“Man, Im definitely coming back to this church because of how much money they can spend on events!” said no student ever. 99% of the time, students really come back because of the relationship that is formed with a volunteer leader at the event.

Budgets have a limit, volunteers are priceless.