Volunteer ministry can never be focused on enough because, let’s face it, we need them. Volunteers have been coming up a lot in conversations with my ministry friends recently and I thought I’d share a little about what I have been learning.

Give high capacity volunteers high capacity work. One of my friends invited me recently to go volunteer at his ministry’s summer camp. The camp was incredible, but one of the things that I was most blown away by was the quality and use of their volunteers. They pay close attention to the capability of each volunteer and assign him or her roles accordingly. They have different levels of leadership and responsibility set up in order to harness and expand their capacity. I think it is their huge belief and empowerment in the volunteers that makes their ministry so successful. They empower volunteers so well that I couldn’t tell who was on staff and who was a volunteer.

Just because they are fun doesn’t mean they will be a good volunteer. I think this is a common mistake. We think that just because students like someone or that they get a lot of attention means that they are an awesome volunteer. But being fun and popular really isn’t the job, is it? We need to be far more concerned with their passion and ability to love and develop students. If in the process of doing so they are a ton of fun, that’s awesome! Keep in mind, some of the best volunteers are the quiet ones!

Invest in your volunteers more than your students. Pouring into adults is one of the best ways to care for your students. Are your volunteers well trained? How much time do you spend on volunteer training? The truth in youth ministry is that there is only one of you and there are many of them (students). Many of us are already leaning really hard on our volunteers to help us do ministry, but are they equipped to do so? It can be really easy to go over most of our volunteers heads and try to do most of the ministry ourselves, which cripples our volunteers and puts a huge stunt on their growth.