youth worker, youth ministry, capacity

Capacity of Youth Ministry

By Doug Franklin September 19, 2012

Have you ever tried to measure the capacity of your student ministry?  What measurement would you use?  Maybe you can measure capacity in terms of open seats in the youth room.  Perhaps you can measure capacity by the number of students who attend your big outreach events or by the number of kids involved in Sunday school.  These would be fine measurements if your goal were numbers.  Most of us realize, though, that having a big youth ministry is not the same as having a meaningful youth ministry.  If the goal is life change, discipleship, and growth; then we are looking at the wrong numbers.  What takes a kid to the next level in their faith walk is often a significant relationship in their life.  When an adult walks the road of discipleship with a student and mentors her, spiritual growth is the outcome.  The true capacity of your youth ministry is not the number of students who come but the number of adult volunteer staff who are developing mentoring relationships with your students.  These are the relationships that will make an eternal difference in the lives of kids.  The capacity of these adult volunteers to mentor students represents the real capacity for life change in your youth ministry.

The key to success for any youth ministry is a great team of adult volunteer staff.  Without volunteers, no model of youth ministry has the traction it needs to be successful.  Youth ministries that rely on the paid staff to do all the work are by definition limited to only the impact of those few full-time people.  Even large youth ministries cannot afford to hire all the staff they would need to connect with every student.  This problem is exaggerated for the smaller church that only has one part time or full time person to focus on students.  The obvious answer to these problems is utilizing volunteers.  Volunteers are the backbone of transformational youth ministry.

If it is true that volunteers are essential to creating transformational change, then developing an influential volunteer team should be the youth worker’s highest priority.  A great program with lots of action and excitement may attract kids, but life on life discipleship and mentoring is what will help them change and grow.  God works through meaningful relationships between adults and students to help students reach their potential.

As a youth worker you need to ask yourself, “Do I have a comprehensive plan to develop a strong, vibrant volunteer team?”  If you are like most youth workers, you cobble together a few ideas from a few books and hope for the best.  Often, youth workers find volunteer development particularly challenging.  Most of us got into youth ministry to work with students.  Now, we find that we are expected to train and prepare adults for their volunteer roles.  Working with adults can be intimidating and difficult.  We feel too young or under qualified to be helping adults become better volunteers.  Because the obstacles seem so great, many youth workers put this issue on the back burner and both their volunteers and their students suffer for it.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More