5 Simple Tips to Recruit and Keep Volunteers

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I have this conversation at least once a month with a stressed out youth worker: “I can’t get/keep my volunteers.  No one wants to help, they don’t show up, and when they do they just stand off by themselves.  How do I get good volunteers, or even any volunteers?”  When people call me with volunteer woes, 75% of them aren’t following these basics, and once they fix these, it's smooth sailing.

Volunteers are the key to any youth ministry.  Often the first warning sign that something is wrong is a difficulty in retaining or recruiting your volunteers.  However, if you take a moment to develop your volunteer strategy and commit to caring for them you can have an incredible team!  Here’s where to start:

1. People recruit people, flyers and bulletins don’t – These are a crutch and almost universally unsuccessful at recruiting volunteers.  If you want people to join in on what you are doing, you are going to have to use the Jesus method: walk up to them and say “follow me” or something like that.  Only using flyers and announcements is a symptom that you are thinking incorrectly about volunteers.  Recruiting and developing good volunteers is a relational task, and impersonal ads are not the place to start.

2. Have something for them to do – I know that this sounds ridiculous.  You have youth group, of course there is something for them to do!  However, very few people are comfortable just showing up to a room with teenagers with no clear task.  When you recruit someone, recruit them for a job. Yes, that means you have to sit down and make a list: greeter, discussion leader, fire-eater, etc.  Start by describing in one sentence specifically what you want them to do.  Then, when you walk up to the potential volunteer you say, “Hey, would you be willing to try helping out with the youth, I could really use someone to be a _____ and take care of ____ on Sunday nights for us”

3. Train everyone - As clear as you were when you said, “I could really use some one to be at the door saying hello and telling students where the youth room is,”  they need to be trained.  For a simple task it could be as simple as you meeting them ten minutes before their first time serving and saying, “Stand here, open the door, smile and tell them the youth room is down the hall on the right.”  If they are going to be a discussion leader, you may need to set up a lunch the week before to show them the ropes and give them some tips.

4. Thank, Pamper, and Bribe  - Seriously.  They just took two hours out of their weekend.  Sit down and write three sentences on the church’s stationary with line art drawing of the building (they all have some of that) and put it in the mail.  Not every week, but do it after their first week, and then about once a semester from then on out.  Then, every once in a while feed them or give them a gift card.  If you pamper your volunteers, they will love serving and feel supported rather than like they are having to pick up slack.

5. Give them a heads up - They are your P.R. and question answerers in the congregation.  Give them your info before you publish it.  Tell them your reasoning for doing what you do, and get their input via some advisory group or deciding committee depending on how your church rolls with that.

From YouthWorker Movement

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Star Trek and Biblical Disfiguration: A Discussion Guide

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Logic vs. moxy, protocol vs. passion, ego vs. superego.  It is the core of one of the most brilliant pairings in all of cinematic history: Spock and Captain Kirk. In the latest (and BEST EVER!) installment of the Star Trek saga, we watch as Spock’s slavery to the rules of his logic endanger his life and career repeatedly.

In one way, this film is about Spock leaving that slavery for something better (and more logical in my opinion).  By the end, he has been able to hold onto logic while embracing a bit more of his human side. What a great parallel to the scripture!

When Jesus enters the scene, the place is rife with the same type of slavery: slavery to rules.  Not only were they obeying the 613 rules in the Old Testament, but the rabbis had set in place what they referred to as a “wall around the torah” that consisted of hundreds and hundreds more laws that backed up from the ones in the Bible so that no one would even get close to breaking the Biblical law. They were enslaved.

Then, Jesus walks in and makes a caricature of the whole thing.  He says things like, “If your eye causes you to sin, don’t just stop looking at bad stuff, or going where the bad stuff is.  I mean, guys if we are going to build a wall around it, let’s really build a wall! Let’s really get serious about holiness! If you are having a problem with eye-sinning, pluck it out!”

Right.  So, how many men are left in that situation with eyes?  Maybe a couple women, but if One Direction has anything to do with it, maybe not many girls in your youth group.

What is going on here?  A whole lot, but one of the things is that Jesus is pointing out how ridiculous an obsession with keeping all the law is.  The law is not where the power is, it is pointing to the power.  In the Old Testament, the Law is pointing to God and ultimately Jesus.  The whole thing is a big blinking arrow pointing at Jesus.

And that’s the lesson.  I know you needed a reason to justify taking your students to the movies again, so here’s a couple questions to ask after the movie is over... Maybe read Matthew 8:19 first and explain about the wall around the Torah.

  • What is it in the beginning of the movie that is enslaving Spock?
  • What does he have to to inside himself to be able to make the decisions that save everything at the end?
  • How is Spock like the teachers of the law in the New Testament?
  • What do you think Jesus would say to Spock?
  • How can we make the same transformation we see in Spock?
  • What is a first step you could take on that path today?

From: YouthWorker Movement

New Facebook Feature that Could Get You Fired

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Who in my company likes to ski?  Which of my friends like road trips?  These are the types of searches available to you in Facebook’s new Graph Search.  Basically, Graph search allows you to search all the public info that people have shared with Facebook.

The problem is that includes everything you’ve “liked” ever.  Likes are always public pieces of information, but until now they have been buried in a list on your profile page in microscopic font size.  Because of that fact, no one I know has ever gone through and managed this list.

Imagine, you weren’t the most perfect person in college (a couple years ago) and you liked a bunch of stuff like getting high, etc.  Now one of your kids searches for: “which of my friends likes getting high?”  He shows it to mom who prints it off and leaves it in your pastor’s box.  Boom.

The moral of the story is: manage your likes. To do this, log into facebook, click on your name, and then click likes on the main bar next to photos and friends.  Make sure to click “more” wherever it is shown and especially make sure to click show other pages.  If you need to remove one, simply click on it and then click unlike on the page it takes you to.

Graph search is being rolled out gradually which means that most people don’t have it yet, but don’t use that as an excuse.  GO MANAGE YOUR LIKES!

From YouthWorker Movement

Dealing with Controversial Topics Without Getting Fired


I have been spending a lot of time recently dealing with controversial topics in the church as part of a message series I am doing in one of our adult worship services.  Though it is possible to get a lot of people interested, it is equally possible to end up with a bunch of upset parents, kids, and pastors.  So, in order to help us all keep our jobs and not have to shy away from every controversial topics, here are some tips I have picked up along the way in dealing with controversial topics.

  1. Wait – Never, ever, ever even consider thinking about possibly attempting to engage a controversial topic without taking time to think about it, its implications, and develop a clear goal for your lesson.
  2. Use Your Longevity – By that I mean, if people have not known you very long as their pastor they are going to be reluctant to listen to your perspective.  Unless you have to address something, wait until you know the people you are serving, and they know you.
  3. Remember They are Controversial – Topics are controversial for a reason.  Usually, either people do not agree or there is some cultural taboo associated with it.  If it is because people do not agree, make sure you don’t act like it should be obvious that one side is true.  If it has a taboo associated with it, make sure you speak appropriately, and carefully.  Do not use slang, do not joke about the taboo.
  4. Give Parents a Heads Up – Make sure that parents know when you are addressing it, and the basics of what you are saying at least a week ahead of time (preferably 2-4).
  5. Make Them the Main Thing – If you are going to address them, do not do it off the cuff or as a sub-point to another topic.  Make sure you spend plenty of time addressing it completely.
  6. Stay Focused on the Spiritual – This is your place of authority as a minister.  When people listen to you, they are wanting to hear what it has to do with their spiritual life.  For example, if you spend all your time talking about STDs and no time talking about the image of God, you miss the boat.  Everything is spiritual, and it is your job to open their eyes to that reality so they grow closer to Jesus through these controversial topics.

From: Youthworker Movement

Three Things All Methodists Should know about Baptism

by Davezelenka

by Davezelenka

Baptism is one of the two sacraments recognized as such by the Methodist church. Maybe it’s because we don’t talk about sacraments enough, or maybe it’s because the Baptists have done such a good job making their case in many regions of the country, but many people are a bit foggy on the whole idea. What’s more, why do we perform it with infants!? Here are the three things you need to know to clear the muddy waters.

1. It is an everyday mystery:

To understand the sacraments, one has to start with the fact that these sacraments share in a profound mystery; however, the mystery is a common one that each person experiences every day of their life. We are both spiritual beings and physical beings. Most people can easily point to a place where they experienced something spiritual: a divine encounter at a camp, the Bible giving clarity to a problem, or a friend speaking truth into our lives out of the blue. Likewise, we can see our physicality clearly. We get hungry; we need sleep.

Yet, we don’t experience life as if we are two people. We don’t experience life as two personalities; we experience life as a single being. That is a great mystery, and that is the mystery of the sacraments. The bread and wine of communion and the waters of baptism are definitely physical things, but there is something happening there that is beyond the water, bread, and wine. It is something spiritual.

2. Circumcision for the New Testament:

The sacrament of baptism begins before the baptism itself. Before we are baptized, we experience the grace of God. Even before we choose to follow God, God calls out to us; he extends his wooing grace to us. Baptism is the culmination of the wooing grace of God, it is a celebration of that grace.

What happens in baptism? What is the point? I think the simplest way to understand it is by looking at the baptism of Jesus.After Jesus goes into the water and comes back up, the heavens open up and God speaks. He says, “This is my son, whom I love…” (Mt 3:17) that is what baptism is. Baptism is the sacrament by which we are included in the body of Christ. It is the sacrament by which we are recognized as sons and daughters of God.

This is not a new thing. In the Old Testament, God makes his covenant with Abraham, and it is sealed with the sign of circumcision. From that point on there was an interesting conversation had with any guy who decided to become a follower of Yahweh: “There’s good news and bad news: you will be part of the family of god and be part of God’s blessing to all the nations, but you are going to have to have a little surgery before it’s official.” Circumcision confirms the covenant, and includes new people into that covenant.

Baptism does everything for us that circumcision did for the people of Israel. By the sacrament of baptism we are included into the body of Christ with all that means and implies.  It is through our inclusion in his body that we can share in his death and resurrection.

3. Beginning and Ending for Infants

The interesting thing about Jesus’ baptism with John is that it begins with John but is not complete until years later when he dies and is resurrected (check out Luke 12:50). That idea is the key to understanding infant baptism. We believe that, just like the covenant with Abraham, the seal of the covenant is for the children of believers as well as adults who want to become part of the body of Christ.

Children are incorporated into the body of Christ as the parents and the church covenant to be the agents of God’s grace wooing the child to God so that one day the child can confirm the covenant through their own decision. In infant baptism, the sacrament begins in baptism and is completed in confirmation.

The reason we do not rebaptize in confirmation is because it is not about our actions. We don’t have within us what is required to deal with sin. The only person who can deal with sin is God. That means that the sacraments are a divine act, not a human one. The fact that we didn’t get chill bumps or don’t remember it because we were too young has nothing to do with the power of God. He is both faithful and powerful. When he does something, he doesn’t have to redo it later to make sure it Took.

From YouthWorker Movement