There is a lot of things that I like about “Building Your (Youth) Volunteer Team”, a new release from Mark DeVries & Nate Stratman of Ministry Architects and the folks InterVarsity Press. Mark, as many may know has been around youth ministry for more years than many of us have been alive. He’s seen and done just about everything, great and not so great, in youth ministry. Mark shepherds a great youth ministry at his church, which I’ve been able to interact with on a number of occasions. He wrote a few years back one of my favorite youth ministry, and church books, Sustainable Youth Ministry. So, when I see a resource with his name, I am an instant and biased fan. I will be the first to let you know that “Building Your Volunteer Team” is less a readable book and more of a plan of action guiding you to places you probably have only wondered how to get to. Often we find ourselves in youth ministry positions because we have a passion, a calling, and willingness to jump into the crazy. Once in the crazy of youth ministry though we are lost with what to do with it all. We go to conferences and hear how to make our ministry great from people who have made their ministry great, but it rarely transfers over.
You Have to Work On the Business, Not In the Business
My wife runs one of the businesses we own and networks & collaborates with with many other business owners to build a growing business that provides for families year in and year out. If they fail at what they do, then people lose jobs and paychecks. I like to remind her that her ministry is creating a great working culture that people can take care of their families that God has blessed them with. One of the little sayings we have in our house talking our various work is “you have to work ON the business, not IN the business”. What this means is if you are spending all your time working IN the business then you are never getting a chance to work ON the business and help move it to places you imagine it being. The same is true for youth ministry.
What I love about “Building Your Volunteer Team” is that, if you follow through the process, it takes you out of the IN of youth ministry and puts you at the point of working ON your youth ministry. The set up of this book (workbook, guidebook, training book) gives you concrete (generally they are all concrete) tasks that put your ministry in front of you where you are getting proactive about the design, framework, and needs of your youth ministry. The process “Building Your Volunteer Team” goes through will work for just about any need in your ministry. The added resources to the book (found online) and the language of the book direct you in specifically building your youth ministry volunteer team. However, it can be transferable to any culture or program need you might have for the youth ministry.
Being Stuck Is A Choice
One of those Instagram famous image quotes that I see often is the “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. If you want change in your youth ministry, especially in with your volunteers then you have to initiate change. Moving towards change is a choice you have to make. If you want to lose weight or get fit, you have to start walking (or join a gym, something), you do not just get miraculously fit from doing nothing or eating the same junk that got you out of shape in the first place. Choose to be un-stuck. Great thing about this resource is that it is practical in form. You do not have to commit to reading a bunch of theory or academic research each day (who has time for those these days). You read a little bit and then you start doing that work ON your youth ministry. It is awesome. The book has sample emails suggested items for various tasks, they will also direct you to online download resources directly created for this book and this process. How is easy is that, you do not even have to create your own spreadsheet to sort your volunteers and target recruiting. There is no more excuses for being stuck. This is resource makes it way too easy to initiate change. I give this a thumbs up and a definite buy, but only if you are going to commit to the process. Do not buy it and look over the chapter titles and think that you got it figured out (we know you do that, we have as well, it is okay to admit it). You will also want to pick up a binder dedicated to this process (trust us on this one) you will need it, promise. We will suggest as an add on help to download some of our admin resources to help give some extended ideas for job descriptions and volunteer roles. Our resources there are not specifically designed for “Building Your Volunteer Team” but they can add to the process for sure.