If you were to evaluate the effectiveness of the leaders you have recruited, would you see babysitters or disciple makers? Have you fallen into the trap of rounding up any willing warm bodies that will fill in the gaps or have you been strategic in praying for the right people? Have you developed a plan to challenge and grow your leaders? Would the leaders that are serving with you now be able to say to someone else who is interested in serving in your ministry, that they are being trained, equipped, supported, and made ready to disciple students?
Your job as a student pastor is first and foremost, to make disciples. The issue that student pastors face is that they believe their only task is to create disciples of their students, but the reality is that you should be focusing on making disciples of your leaders! The issue is that you can only truly disciple a small number of students at a time, so if you have more than 10 students in your ministry, you are in over your head without some disciple-making help. This is where leader training and discipleship comes in. The more you pour into your leaders, the more they will have to pour into your students. So in other words, if you make disciples of your leaders, you can then teach them how to make disciples of your students, who will in turn, learn to make disciples of their friends! What a beautiful progression!
I would challenge you to ask yourself the questions that I asked in the beginning and make an effort to answer from your leader’s perspective, because your level of comfort in ministry can prove a deceptive filter when evaluating the readiness of your leaders. Ultimately, when you recruit poorly, for the wrong reasons, and neglect training, you will find yourself raising a strong force of babysitters for your students. Here are some tips to help you create and maintain a healthy and effective volunteer force.
1. Don’t try to do it all yourself! One of the best things you can do for your ministry is duplicate your influence! This enables you to accomplish more, lightens the overall load on your shoulders, allows others to explore the gifts that God has given them, and increases effectiveness in disciple making.
2. Recruit strategically. You may have heard it said before, but as a student pastor, you recruit 80% of your problems. Haha this is not to knock student ministry volunteers, but rather it is a caution of the importance of strategic recruiting. Poor recruiting hurts your ministry, your students, the rest of your leaders, and the person who was recruited and now has to be let go. Pray diligently over who you will recruit for leadership, and make sure that you are bringing in people that are called to the task. This doesn’t mean that they will be fully prepared for the task, but everyone can learn with some solid training! If you start with the right person, they can learn any skills necessary to accomplish what God is calling them to do, but if you start with the wrong person, you will be in a bad place.
3. Recruit constantly. Student pastors are often frustrated when a need comes up because they can’t get anyone to volunteer to fill the needs. One answer to this is to be recruiting all the time! Even if you have all the volunteers you need at the moment, there is no reason that you can’t make some apprentices! That way when you are ready to start new groups, you have some people in reserve. Bottom line, never turn good leaders away because you will wish you had them when the time comes and you need them!
4. Come up with a training plan. Consistent training should be a priority for you for several reasons…
a. You want your leaders to do a good job of discipling students!
b. You want your leaders to have fun, and it isn’t fun when a lack of training begins to create frustration and confusion.
c. You want to hang on to your leaders. They will eventually leave if they don’t feel valued and cared for.
5. Create an atmosphere of family between you and your leadership. One of the best things you can do for your leaders is to foster an atmosphere of family and team work. Without great leaders working with us, we could not do what we do, so make a big deal of appreciating them, thanking them, and locking arms with them in the work! These relationships with your leaders are a crucial part of building a foundation for great ministry.
This post was written by John Paul Basham, Student Ministry Specialist