Turnover is a great thing…as long as you’re talking about a pastry. But turnover in youth ministry can be a big headache. Here’s how veteran ministry leaders have learned to cure the “revolving door syndrome”:
1. Recruit volunteers who’ve grown up in the church.
Virginia youth leader Pat Sleeth has two couples on his senior high volunteer staff who’ve served for seven years. Both couples grew up in the church and were active youth group members.
2. Be a burden-bearer, not a burden-maker.
When Good Shepherd U.M.C. hired Sleeth as its first full-time youth minister, the volunteers who’d been running the show weren’t exactly thrilled. “So, I basically sold myself as a resource to them,” says Sleeth. “Instead of adding to their burdens, I helped to shoulder their burdens.”
3. Look for learners, not experts.
Volunteers who consider themselves “experts” tend to tire of ministry more quickly. So look for people who are eager to grow and learn, not people who think they’ve already arrived.
4. Give volunteers short-term responsibility, but encourage long-term commitment.
The hectic pace of modern life makes most people afraid to commit long-term to anything, for fear they’ll have to break their commitment. That’s why veteran ministry leaders often sign up their volunteers for short-term commitments for three months to six months.
5. Use a cooperative team philosophy.
When Weerts joined the Memorial Lutheran Church staff, he set up a youth ministry planning team and recruited one adult for every two kids in each age group. He set no maximum limit for the number of volunteers on the team.
6. Offer a wide variety of responsibilities and terms of service.
Breaks down ministry responsibilities into short, medium and long-term assignments. This way, prospective volunteers can choose responsibilities they know they can handle. And turnover is neutralized.