Volunteers (Part 4 of 4): Move from “helpers” to disciplemakers!
Follow Jesus, Together! It can be easy to view a volunteer team simply as a means through which to accomplish our vision, get more done or touch more students. But something happens when we see volunteers not merely as “helpers” and instead see them as disciplemakers. We move from doing youth ministry together to seeing youth ministry merely as one of the contexts we live out our disciplemaking way of life. (Note: We’ve posted about this in great detail in a series on Jesus-like Disciplemaking Learning Communities .)
When we focus our volunteers in our ministry on a disicplemaking way of life we will get a better, stronger youth ministry. But simply focusing on a better youth ministry will not necessarily result in more disicplemakers who multiply. I want those I’m serving with to be the best they can be in the role they serve in but more importantly I want them to have a better life –the life God has dreamed for them. Here are a few ideas that helped me move from a group of great helpers to a cadre of disciplemakers:
- Get Away, Together! We see Jesus often getting away with His disciples after times intense engagement in ministry (i.e. Mark 6:31). Consider a one night retreat this year that is just for your volunteers. Don’t over program it. Leave plenty of room in it for time simply to be together, pray, dialogue over the Word and simply have some fun together. For a few years I scheduled in a 36 hour prayer treat for volunteers at a camp.
- Have Fun, Together! Find ways to play together. My wife and I use to carve one weekend a month to have volunteers (and their spouses if they weren’t involved in the YM) over to our house for game night or some random activity. Having a large group of volunteer,s we kept it to 8-10 people. It was a great way build our community together.
- Eat, Together! Early on I began to realize that it was easy for me to spend so much time with students and little time with volunteers. So I started carving out two lunches a week for volunteers. I tried to invite 2-3 volunteers to lunch at a time. They always thought we were going to talk about youth ministry so they were surprised when I asked them how things were going at work, what the Lord was teaching them, how we could be praying for each other, etc..
- Celebrate, Together. Each month when we gathered as a team we’d spend time celebrating where we had seen God at work in our own lives, our families and the lives of students. After major events we’d take time to thank the Lord for all He’d done. When we attended Challenge Conference, I’d find one evening to take them all out to dinner at a nicer restaurant and we’d talk about what we’d seen God do through the week. Finding ways to celebrate helps fight the discouragement that comes so easily in youth ministry.
- Be Sent, Together! Be sure one of the questions your team is asking is “who is the Holy Spirit sending us to personally and corporately?” Then, as a community who is following Jesus together; pray, encourage, and support one another in living on mission with God.
- Model. Model. Model. It’s a simple principle, but one that is easily overlooked in the business of the day to day. Simply model the type of community you want your team to be experiencing. If you want a prayerful team…be prayerful. If you want a team that keeps the Word the center…then assess your ministry obstacles through the lens of the Word. If you want your team bearing one another’s burdens, then be a burden bearer among your team. If you want a team that is connecting with students outside programmed time, then connect with your volunteers outside of the “program.” Our lives communicate far more than our messages, sermons, emails, etc. Live the way of life in Jesus (I Cor. 4:17) that you want to see your ministry community live.
Again, I’d love to hear your ideas on how you’ve moved your team from a group of people who are doing youth ministry stuff to a community of disciplemakers who are living on mission with Jesus, TOGETHER!!