Stop Poaching My Volunteers

By Doug Franklin May 18, 2020

Youth ministry volunteers get poached more than any other volunteers in the church.

I don’t have any statistical evidence to back up this claim but think about it for a minute: youth ministry volunteers know how to build relationships, how to care for people, and how to run small groups. It makes sense that they would get poached.

So how do we stop it? You have two choices: fight off the ministry marauders or make youth ministry so awesome your volunteers will never want to leave. 

Let’s go with the latter. Here are a couple of ideas on how to keep volunteers by making youth ministry awesome for them.

Provide opportunities for volunteers to grow

We can view our volunteers as people to be used to lead the ministry or we can look at our volunteers as people to be developed to lead the ministry. The difference is huge. If we want to help our volunteers grow, then we will help them discover how they are wired and how they are gifted to do ministry.

We will place them in their sweet spot, and we will allow them to use their gifts to serve students. This will bring them incredible joy, allow them to be wildly successful, and give them a deep sense of satisfaction.

Provide opportunities for volunteers to lead

We can also encourage them to take a leadership role in the ministry. Just think about it for a minute: what if you had three new leaders in the youth ministry? Not just volunteers, but people who actually owned part of the ministry.

The greatest obstacle to our volunteers becoming leaders can often times be us.

When volunteers become leaders, they also become owners of the ministry. Owners don’t leave. Owners invest their time and their treasure, and they stay for a long time. Just consider this: why not change the name of your volunteers from youth ministry volunteers to youth ministry leaders? The difference is subtle, but it communicates a whole lot. Look for areas of the ministry that you can give away to volunteers and those volunteers will stay.

Ask for a commitment longer than one year

Ask adult volunteers to commit for a season of a student’s life. It’s a big commitment, but it helps volunteers understand the importance of their commitment to students. Too many volunteers think working in youth ministry means one year. But if they committed for as long as the student is in junior high or in high school or both, it can be transformational.

Help volunteers grow spiritually

It can be draining spiritually to be always pouring out to help students. Make sure you are providing spiritual support for your volunteers. You may want to form a small group of your volunteers and pour your life into them. If you are challenging your adult volunteers to grow spiritually, it will be life changing. You want your volunteers to think, “When I am in the youth ministry, I am at my best.” If they feel this way, they will never leave.

Invest in your adult volunteers, and they will stay for the season of a student’s life. If they stay, your youth ministry has an awesome chance of being transformational, both in your students’ lives and in the lives of your adult volunteers. You may even see some of your adult volunteers switch careers and become youth workers.

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