most of my volunteers stand around and do nothing

When it comes to evaluating the health of your volunteers, there are several questions to ask, but let me start with one question that might answer your "standing around" problem. I'm assuming that these leaders are standing around during a program time. If this is true, a evaluation question might be:

Are leaders fulfilling their responsibilities for this program?

The success of a program is often directly related to the quality of the leaders who are involved with the program. To help your leaders succeed, you must clearly communicate the attitudes and actions you’re expecting. If you expect them to act as shepherds, make that clear to them or they’ll end up as do-nothing, “stand-around” chaperones. Chaperones don’t last. Shepherds do.

For example, at our small groups, I ask my small group leaders to embody the following roles:

  • Lover of God: Maintain a healthy personal relationship with God.
  • Pastor/shepherd: Know the spiritual condition of your small group members.
  • Leader: Maintain a small group focused on our intended outcomes (group interaction, life-on-life, studying Scripture, and personal sharing and prayer).
  • Servant: Serve; goes hand-in-hand with being a leader and is reflected in the unseen ways.
  • Communicator: Know what’s happening within our youth ministry and inform your small group.
I also request that leaders follow through on the following:

Once a week:

  • Prepare for leading your small group.
  • Pray for all leaders and small groups.
  • Show up when your small group is scheduled to meet.
  • Contact anyone who visits your small group within one week.
  • Contact anyone who has missed two weeks or more.

Once a month:

  • Make contact with your regular students through a phone call, a letter, or a one-on-one or same-sex activity outside of your small group time.
  • Have a conversation with your coach (the person overseeing the small group leaders) and share your victories, struggles, and questions.

It’s been said that nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific. So, be specific with what you want them to do while you have them during your program time. You’ll probably find that after the expectations are in place that they’ll be stronger volunteers.

This is a little of an aside, but I tell my volunteers that my goal for them is to move from being program-directed (following my lead) to being self-directed (following their own lead and the prompting of the Holy Spirit). Eventually, you want volunteers who don’t need your articulate direction, they’ll lead out of passion and intuition-that’s self-directed, and that’s a beautiful thing to see.

By the way, I don’t claim that any of this is easy. Youth ministry is tough and leadership development is challenging.

Simply Youth Ministry is here to equip, connect, and recharge youth workers with the tools, relationships,
and confidence they need to help teenagers develop a committed relationship with Jesus Christ.

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