Mentor or Playground Duty: 5 Questions You Should be Asking Your Volunteers (before you ask them back)

I hate to break it to you, but summer is over…and fall is here.
Which means that a typical church ministry calendar is about to start all over again.

Fall is the time when all the church ministries that hibernated or slowed down over the summer are now suddenly coming back to life…and youth ministry is often no exception.

Now is the time when programs and activities get reevaluated.
Youth rooms get redecorated.
And, volunteers are asked to “re-up” for another year.

Before you go and ask your volunteers whether or not they’re up for another year of youth ministry, I’d like to encourage you to think about who you are looking for and what you are asking them to do.

Because, not all volunteers are created equal…

Chances are some have been doing it for the wrong reasons.
Some have been doing it for too long.

And, some have been treating the youth room like a playground (more on that later…).

Take a minute and think about your volunteer team. You need them.

But, you also need…

A team of people around you who love Jesus and teenagers as much as you do (or more).
A team of people who can see the potential in teenagers and not just focus on their problems.
A team of people who serve with grace and truth and not whistle-blowing rule enforcers.
A team of people who are willing to walk alongside students and not just watch them.
A team of people who are willing to make investments in students even when they’re not on the “clock.”
A team of people who are willing to serve no matter how hard or messy it gets.

You need a team of mentors…not a team of playground duties.


Playground duties…

You know who I’m talking about.

Playground duties roam school playgrounds during recess with whistles around their necks.
They watch kids and wait for problems to happen or rules to be broken.
They blow whistles and enforce rules.
They hang out on the playground during recess and then disappear.

(I could keep going, but I’m beginning to have flashbacks to my own grade school playgrounds…)

The point is you don’t want your volunteers to be like playground duties.
You don’t want people who “clock in” for a couple of hours at youth group, and then “clock out” and go home.
You don’t want chaperones or whistle blowers.

You want mentors.

So, think again about your volunteer team for a second.
What kind of volunteers do you have?
What kind of volunteers do you want to have this year?
And, how do you know if a volunteer is more like a playground duty or a mentor?

Time is short before fall is here, but sitting down one-on-one and asking your volunteers questions like the ones below will tell you a lot about what kind of leader they are (and if you should ask them back).

What did you enjoy about being a leader this year?
What was challenging for you as a leader this year?
How would you evaluate yourself as a leader…strengths & weaknesses?
How would you describe your own personal relationship with God right now?

And perhaps the biggest question…

If someone were to ask you why you volunteer in this ministry, what would you say?

By the way, if you are reading this and you are a youth pastor, these are great questions to regularly ask yourself too.

What questions would you add to this list?