5 Non-Negotiable Traits of Youth Ministry Volunteers

Nick McNabb
August 9th, 2019

The other day I received an email from one of my stalwart youth ministry volunteers.  He and his wife have led a small group, served as trip chaperones, taught Bible Classes, and much more.  Volunteers like him are like finding a valuable treasure.  He was emailing me about a new opportunity he was contemplating and he wanted to know if his services were going to be needed again in my area.  When I responded, I tried hard not to be selfish, and I told him he was always welcome to serve in my area.  But, I wanted him to do what he thought was best.  And guess what?  He chose to stay!  Yippeee!!!

Good volunteers are hard to come by!

In the next few paragraphs, I want to lay out what I believe are five non-negotiable traits that every youth ministry volunteer should possess.  But before we get started on that list, let me mention two characteristics that I think are a given!  First, they must have a contagious love for the Lord.  Second, each volunteer must have a desire to share that love for the Lord with students.  I think it goes without saying, but if those two are not apparent in the potential volunteer’s life – you need to look elsewhere!

Now on to the reason your reading this post…

Non-Negotiable Trait #1:  A Servant’s Heart.

“We do it for the kids!” is a popular saying around the ministry in which I serve.  And, it is the impetus that drives the work we do as youth ministers.  Working with students is a service industry, and for a volunteer, they MUST know their job is about serving others.  When I look for volunteers, I look for people who already exhibit this Christlike trait in their lives.  After all, honoring God and serving others is what our life as a Christian is all about.

Non-Negotiable Trait #2:  A Part of a Team

There’s no I in TEAM, right?  Each time I recruit and train volunteers, I remind them they are a part of a larger team.  Matter of fact, I look for people who are not like me.  A team full of Nicks would be pretty weak.  But, looking for people who possess different talents, skills, experience, and so on will only make our team stronger.  A strong team of volunteers will be able to reach out and connect with more students.  And, connecting students to God is of utmost importance.

Non-Negotiable Trait #3:  Must Pass a Background Check

The students we have under our care deserve our best.  Therefore doing our best to protect them is vital.  So, every volunteer that serves in our ministry must agree to take and pass a background check.  We require references too.  We must try to do everything in our power to make sure there are no “wolves in sheep clothing” lurking around our ministry.  Having potential volunteers complete a background check is an excellent place to start.

Non-Negotiable Trait #4:  No Lifetime Appointments

Volunteers in our ministry know they are not expected to serve forever.  Matter of fact for each volunteer, we have a specific beginning time and ending time.  When there are clear expectations, it allows both the leaders and the volunteers to evaluate the service and decide if they want to do it again.  Now, of course, we have many volunteers who choose to serve again.  But, this type of system allows freedom and flexibility for both sides.  And I believe that is a very healthy practice.

Non-Negotiable Trait #5:  Are You All In?

Volunteers come with different gifts, talents, and skills.  It’s that diversity that makes a ministry more inclusive.  But, it is a MUST that a volunteer in my ministry is ALL IN.  Working with students is not a place for the half-hearted or those with an agenda.  It is a place to serve and make a difference in the name of Jesus Christ.  In the words of the Apostle Paul, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than people.” (Colossians 3:23)  Good volunteers must be “all in.”

If you are like me, volunteer recruiting can take up a fair amount of the work you do in ministry.  And, for the most part, we are not overrun with people who are looking to volunteer their time to serve students.  But, choosing volunteers who possess a Christlike disposition is essential.  Therefore, we must not take the responsibility lightly.

My prayer for you and your ministry is that your volunteers will be fruitful leaders in service to Christ.

Nick McNabb

Nick has been in student ministry for almost twelve years. He has served the past 9+ years in Jr. High Ministry at the College Church of Christ in Searcy, AR. He and his wife Amanda have been married for 14+ years and have one daughter, Lily. When Nick isn’t serving the families and students of his ministry - he is likely planning a trip to Walt Disney World.

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.