One of the most important parts of student ministry is equipping and empowering others. There are many ways to go about this, but one of simplest ways is through regular meetings. We have them once a month. And because I don’t like long meetings and I value people’s time, I keep them to one hour and I provide a light lunch for them.
I also like to treat the student ministry team of volunteers as my own small group (even though we’re much larger than the average small group). We focus heavily on student ministry, but I also spend some time focusing on them and making sure they are loved. If they are not feeling that from me, how are they supposed to help the students in their own small groups to feel like that? I have to lead by example.
We also keep the structure really simple by focusing on three major components:
- Training: I typically use Download Youth Ministry’s training videos. I send them to our team the week before our next meeting, and they watch it on their own at their own leisure. The videos are usually about nine or ten minutes long, so it does not take up a ton of time. Then when we come together at our meeting, we discuss what we learned from it and how we can put some of the ideas into practice within our own lives and ministries. It’s a great way to bring others’ expertise and wisdom into the fold, instead of always feeling like I have to be the expert bringing a new idea every time.
- Planning: We then move into a time of planning. We’ll briefly go over the next few teaching series and events, making sure everyone knows what is coming up. That way, they can pass information along to their students and the parents of their students. When we talk about our upcoming series, we also give them the opportunity to suggest ideas to make it better. We ask them if anyone would like to speak in large-group for any of those weeks, and we spend some time brainstorming game ideas and other ways to enhance the series.
- Prayer: The last thing we do is the most important. We make sure to spend a significant time in prayer every meeting. The content might change each month, but the idea is still the same — we want to depend on God entirely. So, we pray for each other during this time. We pray for our students. We pray for students who are not yet a part of a church community. We pray for our city and surrounding communities. We pray for our church and the other ministries. We know that it is God who has called us, and we need to go to Him for help.
That’s it. Like I said, it is a simple structure, but it works. Not only has it helped us connect outside of youth group programs, but it has helped everyone feel like they have a say in the direction of the ministry, they are growing, and that they are loved. It’s not the only way we equip and empower the leaders, but it is one of the simpler and most effective ways I have found.
I’ve also realized that the simpler and the more focused you keep these meetings, the more often people want to a part of them. Don’t make your meetings pointless or boring. Give them a reason to come and participate. Make sure they walk out knowing exactly why they came and were glad they took the time to be there.
What are you doing to regularly pour into your volunteer leaders? What has worked well for you?