How Frustration Grows with Adult Volunteers
Bob is a youth ministry volunteer, and Tom is his youth pastor.
Bob sees his role in the youth ministry as the van driver, and he’s committed to serving and doing his role well. He arrives early, drives safely, and sacrifices his time to free up Tom to minister to students. When he’s got a free moment, he prefers to spend his time catching up with the other adult volunteers.
Tom, on the other hand, thought he recruited Bob to build intentional relationships with the boys in the youth group. In Tom’s mind, Bob is more than a bus driver; he’s a critical discipler of students. Each time that Bob misses an opportunity to cultivate relationships, Tom’s frustration with Bob grows.
The trouble is: Tom doesn’t know what Bob is thinking, and Bob doesn’t know what Tom is thinking. They each think the other is supposed to be reaching out to students.
“Tensions rise when youth workers and adult volunteers aren’t on the same page.”
Tensions rise when youth workers and adult volunteers aren’t on the same page. Expectations aren’t met, disappointment abounds, and students are robbed of intentional and effective discipleship relationships. To deal with and resolve these frustrations, we need to challenge the perspective of our adult volunteers and communicate how we view their role.
The Wrong Perspective
Many volunteers have the wrong idea about their place in the youth ministry. They see it as their job to serve the youth pastor and accomplish the “dirty work” behind the scenes. They believe that their service enables the youth pastor to be more effective in his or her ministry to students, and they are content to stay in a largely logistical role.
While logistical support is important, it is no substitute for intentional relationships. Even the most effective youth worker is limited in the number of students that they can reach and disciple. Youth ministries that make the youth pastor the primary discipler of the ministry rarely see long-term impact in the discipleship of students.
A Healthy Perspective
A healthy perspective of youth ministry roles looks rather different. The youth worker’s place is at the top of the pyramid; he or she brings the vision and equip volunteers to love and disciple students. Adult volunteers, then, reach out to students and build strong relationships: the kind that allows them to speak the hard truth of the gospel to students, while not driving them away from the church. Students, in turn, are challenged to explore, develop, and grow in a relationship with Christ under the mentorship of an intentional adult volunteer.
In a healthy youth ministry, everyone knows his or her role; everyone is on the same page and driven by a set of shared values. Ministries that pull together—in the same direction and at the same time—become wildly effective in helping students discover God and apply their faith.
By helping your volunteers adopt a healthier perspective of their role, you’ll eliminate many of your frustrations and be on your way to a stronger and more vibrant youth ministry. An army of volunteers that boldly pursue and disciple students will allow every student in your youth ministry to be known, loved, and taught. And your ministry will grow, as adult volunteers challenge your students grow as disciple-makers.
About the Author
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 a dog that thinks he is their only child. Diesel is a 70-pound Weimaraner who never leaves their side. Doug grew […]