Volunteer appreciation month: Why you need volunteers

Apr 5, 2019 7:00:00 AM / by Sparkhouse


Before you start beating the bushes to find your volunteers, it’s helpful to wrap your head around why they are so crucial to youth ministry. You might be thinking: well, I can’t lead everything. And if that’s your answer, you’re halfway there. Having a solid philosophy (and theology) around the “why and how” of volunteers will serve you and your ministry well.

First, accept the fact that you can’t do it alone.

I know, I know – it seems easier to shoulder all of the responsibility, because ultimately what happens in your ministry falls on you. This is an honest (and sometimes true) sentiment.

However, going lone wolf has a limited shelf life. Granted, it may take you a year or even two to start feeling burned out. But it will happen. And the reason for that is simple: ministry is best done as a team. When you have a stable of enthusiastic and willing volunteers, your ministry benefits. It removes blind spots and increases opportunities for collaboration.

Does that mean your ministry isn’t valid if you haven’t started building your volunteer group yet? No. It’s just vital, from the very beginning, to realize the importance of having other adults invested in and contributing to your ministry.

When we bring in volunteers, we are making a statement.

We’re saying: this is not about me. For some ministry leaders, this can be a bitter pill to swallow. So much of what we do in ministry, unfortunately, centers around the personality of the leader for that program.

Sometimes, that’s a good thing! Personality brings students and people in and creates a certain amount of energy that is undeniable. However, much like the “lone wolf” approach, a personality-based ministry will ultimately show cracks.

When we recruit volunteers and make them valuable parts of our ministries, we increase the number of adults who care about and minister to the students in our communities.

For example, even the most dynamic and personable youth worker cannot connect deeply with every student they encounter. A diversity of volunteers makes sure every student will have an adult that connects with them. So, it’s not only good for you, but also for those in your church.

Most of us transition ministry jobs at least once in our career.

…And there’s nothing wrong with that! As a ministry leader, you should be looking for opportunities to grow and mature as professionals. However, unlike most other jobs, what you leave behind matters. 

If you operate from a personality-based approach to ministry, there is a good chance the ministry program will have a tough time rebounding after you leave. When you create a strong and capable volunteer team, you’re building a future for ministry that doesn’t necessarily need you.

Scary? Sure.

Nobody wants to work themselves out of a job. But the bigger question is: what are you leaving behind? How can you continue to serve the students in that ministry once you’ve transitioned to a new role? A robust volunteer base will leave your mark on a church long after you’ve moved.


Finally, think of your volunteers as colleagues, not servants.

To be a youth volunteer is to work in a confounding and holy place. “You want to work with teenagers...for free?” When you treat your volunteers like fellow ministry leaders, you honor the investment they’ve made into your ministry and the students it serves. This becomes a symbiotic relationship, where you have the opportunity to mentor them, and they have the opportunity to mentor you. It can be tough to cede control but allowing your volunteers to have real responsibilities within the ministry only increases buy-in.


This has been an excerpt from our eBook available here. In the volunteer eBook learn how to recruit & empower your church with your volunteers.


Topics: General Ministry


Written by Sparkhouse


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