Throughout the years, I’ve conducted monthly volunteer meetings many different ways: in person, online, using GoToMeeting, and even at a once-a-month cookout we called the Steak Out. Although you can connect with and train leaders in a variety of ways, there’s something about having everyone together that makes it my favorite method by far.

No matter how or how often you meet with volunteers, remember these core values:

1 Maintain a consistent time. Consistency is key to getting people to commit to attending and participating. Meet regularly so you can keep tabs on how your leaders are doing and on what God is accomplishing through them.

2 Keep meetings short and sweet. Volunteers give up a lot of time as it is, so when you ask them to come to an extra meeting, you’d better be prepared. Beforehand, send out an agenda with targeted questions so anyone who misses a meeting can still provide feedback.

3 End a little early. No one has ever complained about a short church function. Volunteers have families, chores, and homework waiting. Value their time, taking only what you need to have an effective meeting.

So what should you actually do during the precious time you’re assembled as a team?

1. Eat together. Breaking bread and enjoying a meal with your team is truly awesome. Providing food conveys appreciation for their service. So grill up some steaks* with your volunteers.

2. Learn together.
Whether you watch a training video, present a short lesson, or listen to a guest speaker, having the whole team together is an ideal opportunity to learn and grow. Set aside time for discussion, using the group’s collective experience to address issues that teenagers face.

3. Pray together. Also reserve time to pray for one another and for young people, seeking God’s guidance and protection.

4. Distribute calendars and resources.
Make sure volunteers leave every meeting with all the tools they’ll need during the coming weeks. Also, provide information about what’s coming down the pike so they aren’t caught off guard by an event or change. Don’t waste time covering those things verbally.

I can just picture a youth pastor in Michigan, deciding to hold a volunteer barbecue at church in the middle of December. How cool would that be?

* Or tofu, if you’d prefer.

Steak Escape by Josh Griffin originally appeared in the November/December issue of Group Magazine where he is a regular contributor for his “In the Trenches” column.