I recently reread a book by Doug Fields called Help! I’m A Volunteer Youth Worker. Written 25 years ago, this simple book has some great wisdom. Here are seven practical things volunteers in student ministry can do:
Students will gravitate toward the oldest person who will take them seriously. Encourage them. Affirm good qualities you notice. Celebrate when they have done a good thing or tried to do the right thing. You’re not their buddy, but you’re not their parent either. With the little time you have to spend each week, use your words positively and generously.
Students rarely get notes. Use occasions and milestones as an opportunity to send a card or letter to a student. Students rarely get old fashioned mail in the mailbox. It’s a treat! Making encouraging comments on social media is also good, but doesn’t carry the same weight as a letter, which may very well be kept and read over and over.
Consistent and Available
Week in and week out ministry is a huge blessing to a student ministry. Your commitment speaks volumes and helps create a great atmosphere for welcoming students. Connecting in conversation and keeping a calm presence during student ministry meetings and activities is a gift! Two main things students need is love and stability. I once heard stability broken down in two words: Stay – Ability. If you are planted firmly in your role in the church and community, that season you invest in the lives of students can have an impact.
Even if you have to jot the names of students into your phone notes – do your best to remember and use student’s names when speaking with them. It can be a powerful connector when someone knows your name.
Help Recruit Others For Ministry
One valuable thing a student ministry volunteer can do is help recruit others for leadership. You have a network of friends in the church and you can use your influence in ways that staff ministry leader often take years to develop.
Laugh At Yourself
We’ve all heard that we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously. One practical way to do this is to be real with students. When they bring up some artist, show or movie that you’ve never heard of, you can just laugh and say, “I’m old, fill me in.” Or “I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about…” God can use all of us – those who happen to know all the current stuff and those us who don’t.
Be A Learner
Never stop learning. Grow in faith through Bible study, worship, and prayer. Grow in knowledge through reading and asking questions. Be a good listener and learn all you can about people. Don’t become a know-it-all. Keep a posture of a student.
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