While you and I are called to serve teens and their families, our most important audience is the volunteer who serves alongside of you. Without them you can only do so much and last so long. That’s why every summer you make a huge effort in recruiting and training them in your craft. Every year there is a mad rush to get them and then when you do you are happy because you have a team. But, you aren’t done.
The hardest part about building up your volunteer base isn’t asking them to join, it’s retaining them for the long haul. When you have a volunteer who not only commits to your ministry for one year but five or even ten, the amount of fruit their service will bare is immeasurable. So, how do you keep them around? Well, it’s all about how you pour into them. Some of the big ways to do this is by sending them to conferences and hosting all day training events. However, the investment doesn’t always have to be expensive and complex. There are a few small things that you can do that will go a long way.
Here are three practical ways you can invest in your leaders:
Send Them A Note – There is nothing better than receiving an authentic hand written thank you note in the mail. It communicates; I took the time and effort to express my gratitude for you. You don’t have to write anything profound, just thank them for something simple or small that meant a lot to you. It’s another way of telling them how valuable they truly are to you and the ministry.
Get Personal With Them – You might meet with your volunteers constantly; however, how many times is it personal? Agenda-less meetings are essential to the relationship you have with your ministers. Find time to take a few of them out for coffee. Invite a couple of them over for a bite to eat or to watch a movie. Indoctrinate a couple of the key leaders into your family. The more they get to know you the easier it will be for them to return the investment.
Brag To The Pastor – Our pastor encourages the staff to introduce to him the all star volunteers and first timers. While he’s not going to get to know all of them, he wants to know the people making an impact on the church. When you introduce a volunteer to the pastor it shows them that you are so impressed with their work that you want the boss to know. That just might be the public affirmation they need to bring their service to the next level.
It’s important to note that you can’t do all these things for everyone. Not only is that a difficult task but also if you tried to praise everyone equally your investment would lose value. Lastly, always think simple. Your investment doesn’t have to be expensive or overly creative. Just make it authentic, transparent and spontaneous.
What other ways can you simply invest in your team?
Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. You can read more great youth ministry articles and thoughts on his exceptional blog Marathon Youth Ministry.