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5 Steps for Identifying the Right Volunteers for Your Ministry

5 Steps for Identifying the Right Volunteers for Your Ministry


No matter the size of your ministry, you cannot disciple students alone. This means you’re going to need a team of adult volunteers who care about teenagers and have a desire to help them take steps towards Jesus. You’ll need volunteers who see the importance of discipling students and are bought into the mission and vision of the student ministry. However, if you’ve been in student ministry for any time, you’ve probably realized that building the right team of volunteers can be difficult.

I’ve been in full-time student ministry for over three years now, and I can confidently say that finding and recruiting adult volunteers is not something I’m naturally gifted at. Still, it’s something I see as vital for the health of our student ministry. There are some things I’ve learned along the way that have helped me find the right people for the right roles in our student ministry. I hope that these ideas can help you in your ministry as well.

  1. Determine Your Needs

First things first, ask yourself, what are the needs of my ministry? Or perhaps an even better question is, what am I currently doing that I could entrust to a consistent adult volunteer? Answering these questions is vital to recruiting volunteers because the needs of your ministry will help you narrow down who could be a good fit on your team. Maybe you’re looking for a MS girls’ small group leader who can lead a discussion every week. Or maybe you’re looking for someone in a hospitality role who is greeting students, helping them get checked in, and welcoming new students into the ministry. Or maybe you’re looking for someone who can run the snack bar at your weekly gathering. Who you need will dictate who you ask.

  1. Create the Roles

Once you determine your ministry needs, you can now begin to create some different types of volunteer roles for your team. Depending on the needs of your ministry, you might have one role or 12 different roles. The number isn’t important. What’s important is knowing your roles so that you can articulate the expectations for whatever you’re looking for before you begin asking people.

Something I’ve found helpful is creating “job descriptions” for the role. This might sound silly or unnecessary, but hear me out. Just because you know what’s expected of a small group leader doesn’t necessarily mean a potential volunteer will understand what you’re asking them to do. Creating a role description enables you to hand something tangible and thought out to a potential volunteer and say, “Our ministry needs an 11th-grade guys’ small group leader. I don’t know if you’ve ever led an HS boys' small group before, but here is what it looks like, and here is what I am looking for. Based on what I’ve seen/heard about you, I think you’d be a really great fit.” The role description gives them something they can take home to think and pray about and creates the space to ask clarifying questions if something doesn’t make sense.

  1. Identify Potential Fits

After you’ve determined your needs and created some role descriptions, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and identify good potential fits for those roles. Different roles will require different people. Someone in your church might make an exceptional small group leader but would be less gifted in a hospitality role. Someone might be energetic, outgoing, and bring a fantastic vibe to your ministry but might not be ready to lead their own small group yet. Once you determine the type of person you’re looking for, you can identify potential fits. Identifying people can look very different depending on your church’s context, but one word of advice I have is this: utilize your network. Ask for some recommendations from people you trust.

  • Ask one of your current volunteers who they think would make a great fit.
  • Identify core parents whose students wouldn’t mind rubbing shoulders with their mom or dad.
  • Ask your boss or lead pastor if they know of anyone who could fit into the role.
  • Ask students if there are any adults they like being around and might be a good fit in the ministry.
  1. Make the Ask

After you’ve identified some potential fits, it’s time to start asking. If recruiting isn’t your natural gift, asking people to join your team might be a little uncomfortable for you at first. But I’ve found that the more you do it, the easier it gets.

Asking someone to join your team doesn’t have to be some profound elevator pitch, but it should be short (2 minutes or less) and preferably face-to-face. For example, “Hey, my name is Leon, I lead the student ministries here, and I’m currently looking for a ______________. I asked a volunteer I trust if they knew anyone who they thought would be a good fit, and they affirmed your gifting in this area and recommended I ask you. I don’t expect you to decide right now, but would you be willing to pray and consider if you’d be interested over the next week? I’d love to give you a call next week and discuss any questions you have about the ministry or the role.”

  1. Onboard With a Purpose

After you’ve asked some people, you’ll probably receive more “no’s” than “yes’s,” but after you hear some “yes’s,” it’s time for you to begin the onboarding process. The main goal of the onboarding process is to help you and the potential volunteer discern if they’re a good fit for the ministry. If your church doesn’t have an onboarding process in place, this might be something helpful for you to create. It doesn’t have to be too crazy, but there are some key things you’ll want to make sure to include. There should be a background check (check with your church’s HR person to figure out how they send out and process background checks), some kind of application, an interview, and a visit or two to observe the ministry or shadow someone who’s currently in the role they’re applying for.

Recruiting the right volunteers for the right role can be difficult, but it’s something you’ll have to do throughout your time in ministry. So it’s essential to recognize the need for caring, faithful adult volunteers and put the effort and time into finding the right people. 

Share your thoughts with others in our YM360 community:

  • What do you look for in potential volunteers before you ask them to join your ministry? Is there anything that makes you not want to ask someone?
Do you have an onboarding process for your volunteers? If so, what does it look like?

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