Growing Your Adult Leadership Team

Youth Specialties
May 4th, 2016

“Thanks! But we already have enough volunteer leaders.”
—No Youth Pastor Ever

The most valuable resource in a student ministry will forever and always be the priceless and sought-after volunteer. Most youth pastors I speak to have a common frustration:

“I wish we could do __________, but we just don’t have the leaders for it.”


“I’m so stressed! I just had another leader quit on me. I really don’t know what we’re going to do next week.”

We all could use more help. Whether for the weekly needs of our ministries or for the big visions God has placed on our hearts for our communities, more qualified leaders will always make a youth pastor’s day—or year!

Here’s the secret we discovered that grew our leadership team:

Ask Your Students

You know who already knows who would make a great youth leader? Your students.

We pulled a group of students together after school and asked them, “Who would you love to see become a leader in our high school ministry?”

Their eyes got wide, they turned to each other, and then with excitement they shouted a name in unison. Then they shouted another and then another! This continued for two to three minutes while I sat there typing the names into my laptop.

We then talked about why they liked those potential leaders so much, and I typed those responses down, too.

Some of the answers were “He just seems like a really great dad” or “I feel like I could tell her anything.” Another student referenced how kind and friendly a college student was to her, and another talked about how a mom always hugged him on Sundays and made him feel as if he were part of her family.

I let our students know I couldn’t make any promises about whether any of these adults would join our team but that I would speak with each and every one of them. Then we prayed over the list.

As I sat in my office, it dawned on me just how monumental it would be if even half of these leaders said yes to joining our team.

Approach Your Leaders

This is the tough part, isn’t it? The fear of rejection exists no matter who you are. But this is what we uncovered: It’s really easy to approach leaders when you have something great to share with them.

This is how the first conversation went:

Rob: Hey, Ron! I’d like to tell you something: We asked our students who they’d like to see become a leader at The Movement, and they mentioned you. As a matter of fact, they shouted your name!

Ron: (Smiling) Seriously? That’s awesome!

Rob: Yeah, they also told us why. They said you’re a great dad and that they really appreciate that about you. The girls who mentioned it said they don’t have dads like you—it caught their attention how well you treat your daughter. That’s why they want you to be one of our leaders.

Ron: (Starting to tear up) Wow. Okay . . . where do I sign up?

Ron was half joking about signing up, but he really did join our team a week later. Turns out he’s not just a great dad, but he’s also an amazing youth leader.

Of course, our students already knew that.

Applaud Your Leaders

Almost every adult we approached agreed to join our leadership team.

I think most volunteers don’t fear the commitment of serving. Instead, they fear the potential of being rejected by the students. Knowing in advance that the teenagers will accept them and like them makes it very easy for a leader to say yes.

The result of our new recruitment technique was that we doubled the size of our leadership team in just three weeks!

Celebrating the arrival of a new leader has become one of the highlights of our ministry. We bring them up front during a packed service and talk about how excited we are to have them as part of our team. We also tell the story of how our students mentioned them by name and how we then we prayed for God to speak to their hearts about joining us.

Who do you believe would make a great leader in your ministry? Stumped? I have a feeling there’s a group of students who already have a list in mind. Would you be willing to ask them?

Rob Gillen PhotoRob Gillen is the High School Pastor at Christian Life Assembly in Camp Hill, PA and has served in student ministries for 10 years. He has his Bachelors in pastoral ministry and his Masters in theological studies from the University of Valley Forge. Rob and his wife Kara parent a son and two beautiful daughters.


Youth Specialties

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.