5 Best Ways I Connect With Volunteers
We all know the challenges of recruiting quality volunteers in ministry. Once you get a good team of leaders together it is important to find creative ways to show that you appreciate them. Below are five ways that I have connected with and encourage our leaders as we work together in the trenches of youth ministry.
Leader Meeting Outings
Over the years I have discovered the challenges of scheduling leader meetings in the midst of busy schedules and extra responsibilities. Recently we started having our leader meetings at various coffee shops. This has been a fun way to catch leaders who are coming home from work or school and fits wonderfully within their weekly routines. There are so many options around the locations where our leader’s work or go to school that provide a comfortable environment for a ministry team meeting. I also use this strategy when meeting with potential leaders or for regular individual meetings with leaders. Our leaders also feel appreciated when I treat them to a snack or drink and take time to listen to their ideas They know they are part of the growth and improvement of our ministry. You can also extend this idea into bigger leader outings such as training events, conferences, or team-building retreats. Some of these options include: NYWC, Orange Conference/Tour, DYM National Day of Training.
Monthly Holiday Celebrations
I love celebrating random holidays. This is especially true since my wife bought me a daily holiday calendar for Christmas! Every month I try to pick at least one random holiday as a celebration for our leaders at youth group. For example, I recently bought several types of pie to celebrate National Pie Day on January 23rd. Our leaders and students were able to enjoy a slice of pie as a “thank you” to our leaders for loving them each and every week. You can get extra creative as you discover the many random holidays out there and add costumes, props, prizes, or treats to celebrate. If you don’t have a budget to go all out, you can approach parents or congregation members who would be willing to donate towards this fun leader appreciation idea.
Retreats and Trips
I think it is important to find ways to appreciate leaders who attend youth ministry retreats and trips. Prior to a big youth ministry trip, plan some time to meet with your leaders to prepare for the event and build relationships. This time could include some team-building activities, a book study, planning of a specific activity or special moment for students, and/or organizing details surrounding your trip. These interactions beforehand create a closeness and unity with your team that students will notice whenever you are together. We have also organized a pre-trip cookout for our leaders and their families a few nights before we leave in order to say thank you to the loved ones they are leaving behind in order to spend time with our students.
During your trip, find simple ways to appreciate your leaders each day. This could be buying or providing coffee for them in the morning, writing simple encouragement and thank notes with inexpensive treats throughout the week, or allowing them to find a few extra moments of rest to recharge occasionally.
Following your trip, you should plan an evaluation celebration where you spend time reflecting on the special memories and talk about ways to improve the event in the future. This can include food, pictures and videos from your trip, and evaluation forms that you leaders receive ahead of time to fill out and bring with them. You can also provide leaders with something special to use with their families. For example, I have purchased gift cards to restaurants and movie theaters so our leaders can enjoy a special date night or family outing after the trip.
Each year I have our leaders fill out an interest survey that collects information about their favorite things. This list gives you a nice inventory of ideas for connecting with your leaders and appreciating them with items they enjoy. I use this survey to discover what love language(s) our leaders value the most, what gift cards would be most useful or meaningful to them, and gather ideas about specific hobbies or passions that energize them. This allows me to create unique ways to love and value our leaders throughout the year.
Cards and Gifts
This final idea is an extension of the Interests Surveys but can be used to celebrate special occasions in your leaders’ lives. Take some of the ideas that you gathered from your surveys to buy something special and write thank you cards to your leaders for birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays.
These are some of my favorite ways to connect with and appreciate our ministry leaders. Use these ideas as well as creating your own unique ways to celebrate the many ways your leader’s give their time and talents to love your students and make a positive impact in their lives.
Andy Juvinall has been serving in youth ministry for 15+ years and especially loves junior high ministry! He is also a DYM Author and enjoys encouraging other youth workers. Andy and his wife Melissa have two young kids (Maggie and Levi) and love serving in family ministry together at their church! If being a youth pastor wasn’t an option, Andy would most likely be a competitive eater or screaming in a rock band.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.