Clear Expectations

  1. Abuse prevention training & rules. Ideally, this would include recognition.
  2. A document that lines out clear expectations. How often are they expected to be there? What do you expect them to do? If they’re regular like, small group leaders, you should get them to sign this document. Sooner or later, you’ll need to fire a volunteer, and this will help you do it. This works because…you’ve given clear expectations. 
  3. Regular check-ins. Let people know how they’re doing, because lots of stuff shifts and changes over time. 

Appreciation

  1. People volunteer because they want to do something with their lives that matter. Youth ministry done well DOES matter, but…it can be hard to notice it. If you want to keep your volunteers around, CELEBRATE them publicly and privately, and INSPIRE them. Remind them their work matters. Remind them they’re appreciated, and noticed.  
  2. You can celebrate volunteers in a few ways. Talk about their successes publicly, occasional thank you cards…there’s lots of ways to do this.

Respect & Dignity

  1. Treat them like their opinion matters. Gone are the days when people could lead from the top with a strong hand. Sure, some people are still doing that, but it’s increasingly ineffective. Particularly if your volunteers are millenials or younger, most won’t tolerate this for long. In fact, Generation X and boomers didn’t care much for it, either. Instead, help them collaborate. Figure out what they’re good at, get them doing that as much as possible, and listen to them. If you don’t think their opinion is worth much…they probably shouldn’t be on your volunteer team. Fortunately, if you treat them with little respect, they’ll be gone soon.
  2. Also! Respect their time and their lives! Do everything you can to help them work quickly. That means you have to be organized, so that they can get their work done easily. Do stuff like this: give them a heads up on what the teaching topic is next month. Even better? Get them the curriculum ahead of time! Whatever they’re doing, they should know what they have to do at least a week ahead of time, so they can work out the details. And that assumes they know months in advance when youth group is happening, when retreats are happening, etc. 

Relationships

  1.    People show up to church for community. People hope for community in most places they go. Form community, and things will go well with you.
  2. All of this? This is why it’s often said that, as your volunteer team grows, you become a leader of volunteers more than a leader of youth. And it might seem like a lot of work. But once these things become real relationships, it gets a lot easier. At first, it might seem like work, but after a little while, you’re just getting breakfast with someone you care about. Easy Peasy.