How to get rid of a bad youth ministry volunteer

There can be plenty of reasons why you need to part ways with a bad youth ministry volunteer. But how do you do that?

No matter how good your screening process for new volunteers for your youth ministry, at some point you may find yourself stuck with a bad youth ministry volunteer. There can be many reasons why a volunteer doesn’t work out (anymore) in your youth ministry:

  • A lack of chemistry with the students, the team, or with you as youth pastor;
  • The volunteer has demonstrated risky behavior that hasn’t changed after several warnings;
  • The volunteer is going through a rough season in his or her life and simply doesn’t have the energy for youth ministry right now;
  • Not everyone is destined to stay in youth ministry forever, even after having successfully served many years it may be simply time to leave;
  • The gifts and character of the volunteer don’t match with the task he or she is doing;
  • The volunteer does a reasonable good job with the students, but is causing problems in your team (no team player) for instance with excessive criticism;
  • Despite best efforts and the necessary youth ministry training, the volunteer simply isn’t ‘performing’ well;
  • You may have made some changes in the youth ministry (for instance in programs) that the volunteer doesn’t feel comfortable with or the volunteer doesn’t support the mission and vision (anymore).

Even the above list is far from exhaustive. There can be many reasons why you need to part ways with a bad volunteer, but how do you do that?

There can be plenty of reasons why you need to part ways with a bad youth ministry volunteer. But how do you do that?

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Vision casting for your youth ministry

Does your youth ministry have a vision, an idea of where you are going in the future?

Your youth ministry needs a mission and a vision. Most of you will nod right now, but a lot of people have trouble to see the difference between a vision and a mission or fail to see how these two relate to each other. It’s no use developing a mission or a vision for your youth ministry if you don’t understand what it’s for. Let’s see if we can shed some light in this darkness.

Overview

Here’s a quick overview of the different elements of vision casting and planning your youth ministry:

Mission: defines purpose, 10 years

Vision: defines future, 5 years

Strategy: defines plans, 2-3 years

Operational plan: defines actions, 1 year

Now let’s discuss each of these elements separately.

Does your youth ministry have a vision, an idea of where you are going in the future?

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Essential elements of a youth ministry training session

Prayer is an essential element of a youth ministry training session. Make sure you time it well and that you use creative methods and approaches.

We’re doing a blog series on how to deliver good youth ministry training to your leaders and volunteers. We’ve discussed defining what your volunteers need to know, how to assess what they know already and how to teach both theoretical and practical skills. Lastly, we’ve looked at how to motivate your volunteers for youth ministry training.

Today I want to give you some ideas for what a youth ministry training session could look like, assuming you’re doing a ‘live’ one and not one via video or podcast. Here are the essential elements of a youth ministry training session:

1. Opening

I think it’s crucial to always start your training with reading from God’s Word. It’s helps us to focus on why we’re doing youth ministry, Whom we’re serving in it all. I really advice you to prepare this part just as well as the actual training. It happens too often that we pick out some random Bible passage without really linking it to the rest of the day and the content of the training.

Take the time to find a fitting passage that will inspire your volunteers in their role in youth ministry, don’t stay on the beaten track here. Something new and fresh often works very well. Prepare it well, explain the context and link it to the rest of the day. It would be even better if you can find a passage as a central theme for the day and keep coming back to it…

Prayer is an essential element of a youth ministry training session. Make sure you time it well and that you use creative methods and approaches.

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How to motivate your volunteers for youth ministry training

When your youth ministry volunteers appear unmotivated, ask yourself if that's really the issue. Maybe they're just extremely busy or maybe your training is boring...

We’re doing a blog series on how to train your youth ministry volunteers and we’ve been looking at creating a youth ministry training plan. But what if your volunteers aren’t motivated for training?

Is it really lack of motivation?

The first question you have to ask yourself is if the issue really is a lack of motivation, or if there are other problems. In my experience, lack of time is often the biggest cause for volunteers to not be interested in training. It doesn’t mean they’re not motivated, it means they have no time for the training. And who can blame them when they’re trying to fit in their family, jobs and their youth ministry related activities into their schedule.

When your youth ministry volunteers appear unmotivated, ask yourself if that's really the issue. Maybe they're just extremely busy or maybe your training is boring...

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How to train your youth ministry volunteers: skills

Training your youth ministry volunteers in practical skills like first aid requires an individual approach, even when you train them as a group

We’re doing a blog series on training your youth ministry volunteers and today we’ll discuss how to train your volunteers in practical skills. In the first post of this series we stressed the importance of defining what knowledge and skills your volunteers need to have. The second step was to assess what your volunteers already know and what they’re already competent in. The difference between those two is what needs to be taught.

Teaching skills isn’t easy. More than teaching theoretical knowledge, it requires an individual approach. Here’s why:

Different learning styles

The difference in learning styles plays an important part here. I’m someone who needs the theory before the practice for example. I won’t just ‘learn’ by watching someone do something, or by practicing myself, I need to know the ‘why’ first. Why is this the best way? Why does this work?

Some people like to observe, others want to dive right in. ‘Forcing’ people to learn skills in a way that doesn’t match their learning style causes friction, stress even. Be sure to give your volunteers room to learn in their own way and don’t make everyone do the same thing.

The solution is to discuss their preferred learning style with your volunteers. Do they know how they learn best? If not, just ask this simple question: if you’ve just bought a new dvd player, how do you go about learning how it works? Do they read the manual first? If so, what works better: reading info or seeing a drawing or schedule? Do they want someone else to show it? If so, do they want to hear an explanation first or see a demonstration? Or do they just try it themselves and see what happens till they get it right? It’ll give you a quick insight into their learning preferences!

Training your youth ministry volunteers in practical skills like first aid requires an individual approach, even when you train them as a group

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How to train your youth ministry volunteers (part 3)

ministry training

We’re discussing how to make a youth ministry training plan and in two previous posts have discussed how to define what volunteers need to know and how to assess what volunteers know already. Today we’ll be discussing the most practical part: how to do the actual youth ministry training.

You know what you want your youth ministry volunteers to know, you have made a good assessment of what they already know and thus you know what you need to teach them. The next step then is to complete your youth ministry training plan by deciding how you will teach your volunteers what’s on the ‘to teach list’.

Keep in mind that the primary task of training your volunteers is to equip them and to motivate them to do their task better. Training is not just a matter of getting a message across or dumping information. You want your training to be practical, to be inspiring and motivating.

That means you have to put time into preparing your training. It’s an investment that will pay off, because well-trained, well-equipped and motivated volunteers are what every youth ministry needs to ‘succeed’. So for each of the items you need to teach them, now ask yourself this question:

How can we teach them this so that they are both equipped and inspired?

Even theoretical training isn’t just about dumping info, it’s about inspiring as much as equipping your volunteers.

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How to train your youth ministry volunteers (part 2)

training

In the previous post, we discussed the first step in making a youth ministry training plan for your volunteers: identifying what they need to know. The second step is a more tricky one: defining what they already know.

What do they know already?

Once you have made a list of knowledge and skill you feel are necessary for your volunteers, you’ll need to define what they know already. Since you can’t possibly say that for all your volunteers as a group, you’ll have to make a list of your volunteers and more or less indicate their individual competencies on each of the items you deem critical for doing their job well.

That sounds easier than it actually is. Professionals in human resources management have written tons of books on assessing people’s knowledge and skills. Yet a lot of managers still have a hard time pinpointing where the performance of their employees falls short exactly.

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How to train your youth ministry volunteers (part 1)

Youth ministry training for your volunteers is not just about book knowledge, it's also about acquiring the necessary skills to do their job right

Most of the leaders and volunteers in our team do not have a formal youth ministry training or degree. That means that we need to help them acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to help them serve well in whatever role they’ve taken on in youth ministry. But how do we do that? How do we provide the right kind of youth ministry training for our team?

It’s start with making a plan. Sure, you can engage in some well-intentioned haphazard training on subjects you think are either interesting or relevant, but how will you know if you’ve covered it all? If you really want to give your leaders and volunteers the tools they need to do a great job, you’ll need to do some serious planning.

Youth ministry training for your volunteers is not just about book knowledge, it's also about acquiring the necessary skills to do their job right

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Training and informing your leaders using Evernote

Sharing notebooks in Evernote is very easy, just choose if you want to share with the world or with specific people

I’m a huge Evernotefan. I can’t think of a single app that has saved me so much stress and time as Evernote. In previous posts I’ve shown three great ways to use Evernote in youth ministry and gave you an idea of how Evernote can change the way you work in youth ministry, but obviously there are many more things you can do with Evernote. Today we’ll have a look at how you can use Evernote to train and inform your leaders and volunteers.

I’m assuming you have lots of info you want your leaders and volunteers to know, to have accessible. There are so many important documents in youth ministry that leaders should have access to at all times. You could email it or give it on paper, but chances are they’ll lose it, keep an old version by mistake or won’t be able to find it when they need it.

And of course you want to train your leaders to make sure they grow in their youth ministry skills. So you give them articles, posts and documents to read, podcasts to listen to and maybe even videos to watch. But how to do this in an easy way, a platform where all your leaders could access the info at any time?

A screenshot of my Evernote for Mac. As you can see, I have close to 3,00 notes stored in my Evernote.

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The importance of a code of conduct for your youth ministry

It's important to have leaders sign the code of conduct

Does your youth ministry have a code of conduct for all volunteers and leaders? If not, I strongly advise you to make one, or to discuss doing this with your leader or pastor. I’ve discovered that a code of conduct creates clarity for all involved, helps prevents conflicts and promotes a culture of transparency and accountability (actually, the same goes for all youth group rules that you create together and communicate). The process made us even grow closer as a team and helped me renew my motivation to be a youth leader.

It's important to have leaders sign the code of conduct

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