In 2007 I hit a season of exhaustion. I had a lot going on professionally and I felt so alone in my ministry. I was able to squeeze some time away to go to a youth ministry conference and found myself venting to a few trusted ministry leaders. At the end of my rant one of them said to me, “Chris, we have no problem helping you out, just let us know what it is you want us to do?

I came to a realization that I had not done a good job of building stronger volunteers. I had only been focused on recruiting help instead of building up the people who were around me.

One of the reasons youth ministers face burnout is because they carry the burden on their own. To thrive in youth ministry you don’t need help, you need strong ministry leaders. You need men and women who are going to fill in the holes, take the reigns and push you to your limits. To build stronger ministry leaders you need to:

  • Define Their Roles: When someone knows what they need to do they’ll focus. Stronger ministry leaders are ones that have a good sense of purpose and know what it is they are meant to do. All you have to do is write a basic job description full of roles and goals you have for them. Set an expectation and encourage them to fill it.
  • Give Them Ownership: Volunteers want to know that their involvement matters. That means allowing them to take risks, make decisions and own parts of the ministry. By sharing the burden you not only strengthen your ministry but give yourself margin. You have to remember it’s not your ministry, it’s a stewardship; therefore, lead it wisely.
  • Invest In Them Professionally: You benefit from blogs, conferences and resources make sure you are sharing these with your teams. When you invest in their development they’ll see that you value them. When a volunteer feels valued they take advantage of the opportunity you’ve given them.
  • Protect Their Faith Journey: Whether you are a volunteer or paid youth worker ministry will be a grind. To make sure you do not burn out your volunteers encourage them to grow in their faith journey and give them seasons of rest. This means talking to them about boundaries and making sure you do not take advantage of their stewardship. Volunteers will grow stronger in leadership if they grow stronger in their faith.


Stronger volunteers means a stronger ministry. It gives you the ability to delegate your weaknesses so that you can exploit your strengths. Stronger volunteers enable you to create a Christ focused ministry because it won’t all depend on you.

How do you invest in stronger ministry leaders?