by Jacob Fasig
If you recruit volunteers to just show up, then you can’t be mad when everyone leaves the church when the event is over, leaving you to clean and tidy up after the tornado of activity that just flew through the building.
The mind-blowing notion: if volunteers have no idea what they are supposed to be doing…they won’t do it! In our ministry there have been plenty of times where a pack of youth have walked right past one of our volunteers to leave the church building during a youth activity, and the adults did NOTHING! Seriously, I think they even talked to them before they left and told them to “have a good night.”
They let a pack of youth walk out to do God knows what downtown, with the parents under the impression that their kids are at church all night. I wish I could pull the adults to the side and blame them for not doing their job as clear-headed adults, but let’s be honest: it’s my fault. They didn’t know that part of their job was to keep youth on the third floor, nor did they know that they had the power to stop them.
Sure job descriptions clue in clueless adults to the job they have signed up for, but they also empower. I get approached all the time with “what should I do” scenarios. If a youth smarts off to me or disrupts class…If a group of youth ignores me or walks past me to go where they are not allowed…”What should I do?”
Thus begins my “you have the power” speech. We must empower our volunteers with the power to do their job and to not feel limited. Sure, there are times when I have to be called in (which involves a very one sided conversation with the students), but most of the time after empowering the volunteer, they handle the problem. In fact the more problems that the volunteer can handle the better, because this gives them authority with the group they serve.
Youth are scary and create anxiety within people. They push you and push you more to see if you really mean what you say. They want to see if you care enough to love them with discipline. Don’t wait to empower your adults when they are ready to walk out the door because things have gotten out of control. Empower them from the beginning. Remind them that they have the authority in the room. They are in control and they have all the power they need in Christ Jesus for any and all circumstances. Better yet, write it into their job description that they, on the power of God’s Holy Spirit, can take healthy action to be the authority you need them to be in the youth ministry.
Jacob Fasig is a veteran youth minister who currently works for McKendree UMC. He is married to Allison and they have two daughters, Zoe and Eve.
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