Husband. Dad to 5. Student Ministry Pastor. Follower of Jesus. Yatta yatta.


If you have a large group program sometime in your week or weekend like we do, then you know that one of the most challenging and yet critical places to put a volunteer is just in the middle of a bunch of students.  The most tempting thing for adults in this situation to do is to sit together in the back. 

While that’s probably the safest way to not feel awkward, it’s also the quickest way to miss out on having an impact and to quit because you feel “unneeded”.  It’s easy to feel like you’re doing something significant if you’re leading an activity or the teaching the message or playing in the band or serving in some tangible and qualitative way… but if you’re just being a caring adult in the lives of teens, then it’s easy to feel like you’re just sitting in a room filled with teens.  To make an impact here, it will take some more initiative to feel like you’re making a difference.  

To that end, here’s some training tips I suggest and give to those who sign up to be a large group adult volunteer.

INVEST TIME:  Come as early as you can, stay as late as you can.  Lots of times, the best conversations can be had before the service begins and after it’s over.

SPREAD OUT:  Spread out from other adult leaders.  Don’t sit in groups larger than two of you.

BE HABITUAL AND CONSISTENT: Try to sit in the same area each week- teens are creatures of habit and you’ll find it’s easier to get to know them by sitting in the same place- they will likely do the same thing.

MINGLE:  Initiate Conversations.   Remember students are not looking for a hip adult- they’re looking for one who genuinely cares about them.

KNOW A FEW: Don’t try and know everyone.  The goal is not to be the most popular leader or to know the most number of students so you can care for them all, just strive to care for a few.

LOOK FOR THE MISSING: Of those you do know- Look for who is not there and follow up with them.  Make it a priority this week to call, e-mail, or send them a post card.

INVITE: Ask the students about the events we have coming up.  Find out if they’re going.  If they need to sign up- go with them to do that.  Discover if they are in a small group and if they’re not but are interested in one- try introducing them to a small group leader who is there today.

BE AN ACTIVE OBSERVER.  If you see someone who is crying- talk to them.  If they came in soccer clothes- ask how the game was or when they play next.  If they look lonely- sit by them.  If they look normal- find out why they aren’t.

HAVE FUN:  Games or crowd breakers are your chance to laugh with students and have some good clean fun.  Be a kid again.

MODEL IT:  Don’t expect students to do what you’re not.  Don’t forget to take notes and turn in your Bible and sing and put down your cell… you get the picture.  Model good learning skills.

DON’T QUIT WHEN THE PROGRAM ENDS:  When you have sat with a student for an hour and they’re heading to the parking lot- go with them.  If they drove- you’ll discover what kinda car they drive.  Students love to talk about their cars.  If a parent is picking them up- never underestimate the power of that relationship.  Introduce yourself and say hi.  Thank them for entrusting their student to us and remind them how much we appreciate their willingness to drive to make it happen.  Without them- they wouldn’t have been there today.

PRAY AND PREPARE: Come prayed up and prepared.  Set a goal for yourself regarding your role with students.  What is the next step in your effectiveness.  Pray and act on it.

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