As my high school group of guys have grown older I’ve noticed the amount or responsibilities and conflicts in schedule have grown. Because our groups meet every Thursday night it’s easy for them to miss a week here and there. However, as the obstacles and alternate opportunities grow their attendance starts to falter. They tell me they love being their; however, they are just so bogged down with:
- School Work
- Sports Practice
- Responsibilities At Home
I’m sure this list could continuously go on for many of you and that your groups face similar challenges. The key to keeping the group strong is to enable it to grow outside of your allotted time. That means connecting with teens multiple times during the week in a variety of ways.
That might seem fine to you; however, overwhelming to your volunteers. If you introduce that idea to them there might be push back or reluctance, and that’s okay. You just need to help and show them how to grow outside the designated time. To do that:
- Give Leaders An Out – From time to time give your small group leaders permission to do something outside of the usual time or agenda. Because time is so valuable allow them to sacrifice a night of the “usual youth ministry” to do something different. Challenge them to embark in a service project instead of discussing service. Encourage them to do something social that will build camaraderie. Give them permission “to play”.
- Extend An Invitation - Many leaders might not know where to start when it comes to investing in their group outside the weekend. Invite them to join you when you are heading out to a game (Where their teens might be present) or on an outing your group might be planning. By extending an invitation you are leading by example.
- Set Them Up For Success - On top of extending an invitation to join you equip them with resources that will help them connect with teens outside the group. That might mean training them on social media etiquette, or giving them the tools for planning a night of laser tag. As the youth minister of your church you have a wealth of resources and knowledge that your volunteers need access.
The more a group can grow outside of the weekend or it’s usual time the stronger it will become. It will teach the teens how to build relationships outside of a youth ministry setting. It will also build confidence in your leaders because they’ll feel like they have ownership. When your leaders are motivated to lead outside the group it extends your capacity to be present in the community.
How do you help your volunteers connect with teens outside the designated time?
Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)