4 Tips – Developing a Youth Staff

“How do I recruit and develop a Youth Staff?”

It’s one of the most common questions I get when I spend time with Youth Leaders. Dealing with volunteers can be one the most nerve-wrecking, yet imperative things we do as leaders.

Our effectiveness as Student Pastors can be significantly impacted if we try to do everything ourselves. Trying to lead your group as a “one-man-show” is simply not sustainable.

Dealing with volunteers is not easy. Recruiting, training, and managing a team can be one of the most stressful things you do as a leader. But it is also one of the most vital in insuring sustainable success in your Student Ministry.

So without further ado, here are some tips to consider when dealing with your Youth Staff:

1. How do I find volunteers?
It’s the most common question I hear regarding Youth Teams. How do I find people that are interested? How do I find people that are interested that I actually want to be a part of the team?

This is not a frivolous question. You’ll find plenty of interested people that lack the passion or the spiritual maturity to lead in your Student Ministry. And that’s exactly what you’re doing…placing someone in a position of leadership.

One of the most important things to me when looking for a Youth Staff member is passion. I could teach the skill set required to lead. I could work with them on the ins and outs of Student Ministry. You can teach a lot of things…

You can’t teach passion. 

So I would watch as our students prayed. I would see who would join them in the altar without being prompted. Who would step out and agree with them? Who would make it their objective to worship with our students?

Passion cannot be hidden for long.

That’s where I always started. Do you have a passion to see these Students encounter God? If you pay attention in those moments, it will be obvious who you should consider approaching about joining the Youth Staff.

2. Communication is Key
If you study leadership at any point in your life, you’ll hear repeatedly about the importance of communication. The same holds true with your Youth Staff.

Take the time to over communicate…Then say it again.

Communicate responsibilities and expectations.
Communicate mission and vision.
Communicate events and ideas.

There’s no such thing as communicating too much when it comes to your Youth Staff. My  Pastor says all the time “If you’re not up on something (aware, informed) then you’ll be down on it.”

Communication is vital to a successful Youth Staff.

3. Don’t be Afraid to Handle it
I pray that the need never arises for you to correct a member of your Youth Staff. I sincerely hope that you don’t have to have those tough conversations about unmet expectations, or worse, spiritual failures.

But if you do, don’t be afraid to address it head on. If you have communicated clearly the expectations and responsibilities, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when you do need to handle it

You’re not doing anyone a favor by ignoring issues.

Not your Youth Staff member. Not yourself. And definitely not your students.

Looking back, there are so many situations that would have been a lot easier in the long run if I had just handled them on the spot. Handling issues MUST be done privately and in love. The old adage is true:

Praise in public, criticize in private.

The best thing you can do for your staff is to help them progress both spiritually and as a leader. If they are passionate about students, they will welcome the ideas to progress in those areas. You have an obligation as the Student Pastors to help them progress, and that should be communicated to them once they agree to join the staff.

Do everything in love and with the benefit of the doubt, but don’t be scared to handle the situations that do arise.

4. Have Fun
Some of the most vital components of connection with my Youth Staff came in the most random of moments. Once was at a Sectional Youth Conference where a student sang a solo he probably shouldn’t have been asked to. Another was during a staff meeting where a nerf war broke out. Another was on a road trip to a Youth Worker’s Convention.

You cannot lead to your potential with people you’re not connected with.

As important as it is to connect with your students, it is equally as important to connect with your staff. You have to intentionally create moments of fun just for your staff. Go play putt-putt. Have a movie night for your team only. Take them to Youth Ministry Training events. Take a day trip. Have a staff Christmas party.

Anything you can invest into building a cohesive and strong connection between your staff will pay dividends in your Student Ministry long term.

It may not be to the extent of the Student Pastor, but Youth Staff members still sacrifice to be a part of leadership. They give up time off. They give up their weekends. They give up their finances. They give up their own social relationships in a lot of cases.

It’s up to you as a Student Pastor to make it worth their sacrifice.

And I believe you will.




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