5 Tips for Training Volunteers When You’re Lacking in the Budget Department

January 16th, 2017

Whether you’re a lead youth worker or a pastor of a smaller church with a volunteer-led youth ministry, one thing you need to be thinking about is making sure your volunteers are able to grow and develop for the tasks that God has called them to in youth ministry. However, very often, you’re simply lacking a bit in the budget department.

Having worked in a few different sized churches, I’ve come to realize that this problem is not unique. I always wanted to invest in my volunteers, but good training often costs a lot. Conventions aren’t cheap. Buying books for your entire team can blow your budget quickly. Staff retreats can cost a fortune in housing and food costs alone.

So what do you do? How do you invest in your volunteers when you just don’t have much money to put into it? Well, here a few tips to help get the ball rolling for you.

1. Take Advantage of the Internet

If you’re reading this blog post, you are taking advantage of the internet for your own development. So really . . . you already know how to do it! Seriously, though, there are a lot of great resources on the internet that you can access either free or at least cheaply. Pass good blog posts that you read on to your volunteers. If you get an offer for a good free e-book, share that offer with your volunteers. As I said, chances are that you’re already doing some of this for your own development. So, when appropriate, share some of the great free and cheap resources you find with your volunteers. Be discerning though, as you know there’s also a lot out there that’s not-so-good.

2. Write Some of Your Own Training Materials

Chances are, whether you’re serving as the lead youth worker, or as a pastor whose youth ministry is run by volunteers, you’ve got something to offer them. Whether it be in the area of personal growth, some simple how-to guides, or something else entirely, you’ve probably got some knowledge filed away somewhere that could be useful to your volunteers. Writing some of your own training materials is also a great opportunity to begin to transmit some of what you are currently learning as a leader, which can also be a great help to your own personal development.

3. Look for Good Local Opportunities

All of us love to go to the big national events. But, when you’re looking for something that could work for your entire team of volunteers, the big national event might just not work. Between travel and lodging, food, and event registration, costs can move well beyond what can work for your entire team.

And that’s OK! There are often some great local events that happen throughout the year that may be more feasible for your team to get to. Youth Specialties, themselves, have had many of these types of opportunities through the years that might be more attainable for your volunteer training budget.

4. When You Go to an Event, Share What You Learned!

Even if your entire volunteer team can’t go to an event, you may still be able to get to some. So, as you can, take advantage of the opportunities you get to be trained. But, make sure to share the information you receive with your volunteers. Take notes. Share those notes with your volunteers. If there are recordings available from those events, share the links with your volunteers. Whatever you do, find some way that every training event you attend becomes something that can benefit the whole team.

5. Spend Time Mentoring your Volunteers

Mentoring, generally speaking, doesn’t cost money. And mentoring is one of the most impactful things you can do to help your volunteers grow and develop. So, take a few of your volunteers under your wing and invest your time and energy into helping them become the best volunteers they can be. As you get to know your volunteers more deeply, you’ll be able to target the money you do spend toward the areas of their lives that it will make the most impact.


These are just a few ideas, and there are probably many, many more. In ministry, we tend to think that where there is no budget, there is no ministry. But there are a lot of creative ways you can invest in the development of your volunteers that won’t break the bank. The big thing is that your volunteers know that you care and are interested in investing in them. The boost they get from that will empower them in ways you can’t imagine. It will help them to get excited about what God has called them to, and will help them feel more confident in fulfilling their calling. THAT’S BIG IMPACT!

MATT LARKIN serves as the Director of the Department of Student & Family Ministries for the Advent Christian General Conference (WWW.ACGC.US).In that role, he serves as a resource and consultant to youth workers and college students around the United States and globally. You can connect with Matt on Twitter via @MATTWLARKIN.




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.