In all my years of ministry I have experienced the same difficulty most youth workers face when it comes to student ministry. It seems we are always faced with this task each and every year. This difficult task is recruiting new leaders. You may find yourself in a new role as a youth pastor and you have a team of 1 or 2. Maybe you’re a seasoned youth worker and your ministry is growing so you need new leaders. Wherever you find yourself i’m sure we can all agree that recruiting new leaders can be a challenge. 


For me, I feel I have done a decent job at best when it comes to recruiting new leaders but I have learned a lot of what works and what does not work. It is crucial that we have leaders but beyond that, we have the right leaders in our ministries. We don’t just want warm bodies or babysitters so we can see our list of leaders grow. I’ve made that mistake one too many times. Trust me, you don’t just want warm bodies or babysitters just so you grow your team. It will save you from having challenging conversations from firing them in the future. We want the right leaders who show buy in and a desire to serve students. So here are a few things I have done over the years and am currently doing to add new leaders to our ministry. Hope these can be helpful for you as you look to grow your team.



Yes, I’m pulling the christian card and putting prayer as the first place to start when it comes to recruiting new leaders. The hope is that you’re already praying for your ministry for both leaders and students. I am so guilty of bypassing God and what He wants to do and I am just left spinning my wheels trying to think of the best next thing or groundbreaking innovation to recruit new leaders. That often has not worked for me in the past. It was when I stopped and prayed for leaders that I began to see interest increase and even know what I’m looking for in a leader. 


So my question for you is, when was the last time you prayed? When was the last time you spent time praying for leaders currently in your ministry and leaders God wants to bring to your ministry. Maybe this prayer time is for clarity on the type of people you are looking for and need within your ministry. Take some time this week to ask God to bring people to mind who would be a good fit. You’d be surprised what prayer can do and how leaders begin to show up.



We want to always be praying but we also just can’t sit back. We also need to put some work in when it comes to recruiting new leaders. Now I’m sure we can all think of a time we encountered a sales person and it didn’t go so well. I remember when I was looking for a new car for my wife and I. The salesman was aggressive and wouldn’t take no for an answer. I walked away from that experience not very happy. When it comes to getting our sales pitch down i’m not referring to being a slimy salesperson and leaving a bad taste in peoples mouths. When I talk about getting your sales pitch down I am simply saying we should know how to draw people in and give a reason as to why they’d ever want to join your team. 


If you have no idea what you’d say to someone who asks “what’s this ministry about?” or  “Why should I join this team?” you need to work on a sales pitch. Can you give a compelling reason why someone should join your team if you only had 2 minutes with this person in an elevator? Do you have stories of what God is doing in your ministry to paint a picture of why this is a great opportunity for people to join? Can you sum up the “why” of your ministry beyond games and prize giveaways? 


We want to give a compelling reason why student ministry matters. We should be able to explain that to potential new leaders and it should get us excited too. So to get started with a good sales pitch here are a few questions to get you started:


  • What is the vision or why of our ministry?
  • What are some compelling stories I can share to someone wanting to join our team? 
  • Can I walk someone through all of this in 2 minutes or less? (maybe spend time practicing it on people so you get it dialed in)



We are all limited to our own sphere of influence. Each of us only know a certain amount of people so when recruiting new leaders it can be challenging to find new ones because you have nowhere else to look after you’ve tapped into your sphere of influence. What I have found very effective is casting the vision to our current team of leaders of what the need is and then asking them to begin recruiting themselves. For example, we do small groups each and every week and our groups have been growing. We want to begin breaking some of the groups down so what we are looking for is 8-10 students for every 2 leaders per group. So I casted that vision to our team and let them know we needed 26 new leaders to be able to do that. From there I asked them to tap into their sphere of influence to begin recruiting. 


Some of the questions I proposed to help them think of who would be a good fit were, “who would you want to serve or lead a small group with?” “Who do you know that attends our church and isnt on a team yet?” 


Doing this on top of the other things has made a HUGE difference when it comes to recruiting new leaders. This is a great strategy because you are having current leaders recruit and they know how to give a good “sales pitch” because they are currently doing it and are in the trenches. They can walk someone through what it looks like to be a leader and make it compelling because they are doing it themselves. Tap into your leaders sphere of influence this week as you look to recruit new leaders. 




Having a dialed in onboarding process can be a huge tool for recruiting. If you have a poor onboarding process you are likely going to lose potential leaders. If they don’t know where to sign up, aren’t followed up with, never get to come and shadow, etc you are likely not going to recruit many people to your team. It is crucial to know what your onboarding process is and that they know it as well and can experience it fully. 


For us, our onboarding process is about a month and sometimes longer. We start with the sales pitch and when a potential leader shows interest we have them apply online. This person fills out an application, leader profile, background check and reference form all up front. When this person’s background check is clear they come and shadow (don’t let anyone come shadow until they have a clear background check. Protect your ministry and don’t skip steps just to move quicker). This person shadows a total of 3 weeks and during that time we sit down with them to go over leader expectations so they know exactly what they’re signing up for. Through this process they have multiple touch points with us, they experience what our midweek is like, they hear clear expectations and by the end of the month we usually have a good idea if this is a good fit for them and our ministry. 


So how’s your onboarding process? Do potential leaders get to come and experience what they are wanting to sign up for? Do you have clear expectations for them so they know what they are joining? If you don’t, start today by creating a clear and concise onboarding process. It always makes onboarding a new leader so much easier because you know what each next step is. 


Let me end by encouraging you. Recruiting leaders is not easy but we need leaders. Be patient as you recruit. It’s a longer process because we want the RIGHT leaders not just warm bodies. Keep up the good work and do your due diligence to get those leaders! Hopefully these are helpful ways to begin recruiting or sparked some new ideas you can begin using to start recruiting. 


Guest post by Scotty Keesee

Scotty has almost 10 years in the trenches in student ministry and is one of the youth leads at Sandals Church in Riverside, CA. He loves to lead leaders and talk culture, ministry, and strategy. He has a wonderful wife and two amazing boys.


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