Contributor – Heather Quiroz, Staff Consultant with Ministry Architects
Celebrate Your Volunteers
Bottom line, we couldn’t do youth ministry without our volunteers. I’ve heard many youth workers share their frustrations about finding good volunteers. I’ve heard comments like, “I can’t find any volunteers” or “the volunteers I have are unreliable”. You name it. I’ve probably heard it.
Let me tell you about my volunteers, they are AWESOME. I’m not kidding. They’re some of my favorite people in the world. They love on teens, go the extra mile and are invested in the youth ministry. Now, you’re probably wondering, where did I find volunteers like that? I must have taken a trip to Mars to find those volunteers.
Nope, not the case at all, one of the reason why I have such great volunteers is because, I CELEBRATE them, constantly. Whether it’s publically or privately I constantly look for ways to celebrate my volunteers.
If people know that they are valuable and irreplaceable, they will stick around. If you create an atmosphere that celebrates them and praises them for their commitment, they will feel appreciated and will want to be a part of the group you’re leading.
Here’s how I celebrate my volunteers.
- I brag about them to others, all the time. I’ll do it in the church newsletter, recognize them on them on Youth Sunday or use social media to praise them. When I’m talking with parents, I talk about how great my volunteers are!
- I communicate with them. One of the best ways to lose volunteers is to not communicate with them. A couple of times a year I’ll call my volunteers to see how things are going. I’ll ask questions like, “is there anything that I can do to help you serve the students better?” This tells your volunteers that you are invested in helping them succeed with your students.
- I remind them how valuable they are. I’ll send a personal text message, email or a card just to say thanks. I’ll point out things that they do well. I’ll take note of something I’ve seen them grow in or a connection they’ve made with a student and I’ll let them know that I notice!
- I feed them. If there is one thing I’ve learned in Youth Ministry, people love to eat. I’ll cook meals, buy pizza or grab Subway for our meetings. Eating meals together can help build team camaraderie.
- I invite them over to my home. Twice a year I’ll have my volunteers over to say thanks, have a meal and play games together. No one likes meetings, so I try to lighten things up and have fun with my volunteers every once in awhile. They’ll be more likely to attend training meetings if you keep it light.
- I throw a big party at the end of the year. I like to call it the “Collide Leader’s Appreciation Night”. We go to a local restaurant, eat a delicious taco buffet, enjoy fellowship together, then head to an improv comedy show that gets us laughing and having fun together. Is it expensive, sure, but it’s worth it. My volunteers are worth it, so I budget for it and celebrate them!
Whatever it is, don’t forget to celebrate your volunteers. After all, you couldn’t do it without them!
Heather Quiroz is passionate about all things youth ministry. She loves coordinating, planning and executing events. She is a gifted communicator and speaker. She is passionate about life, Jesus and loves seeing students’ lives transformed by the gospel.
When Heather is not at her church where she’s been serving on staff as the Youth Ministry Director for the past six years, you can usually find her somewhere laughing with her husband, Rodrigo, biking, lifting weights or doing just about anything active.
She and her husband Rodrigo, live in Aledo, IL where she serves on staff with First Baptist Church. Prior to her current position she worked with Student Venture and Campus Crusade for Christ. Heather has over 10 years of Youth Ministry experience and is a graduate student at Huntington University where she is pursuing a Masters in Youth Ministry Leadership.