Best People Best Places

Today kicks off our high school program Uprising, I’m real excited to see the students again and meet some new faces.  It’s also a chance for me to see some of the ministers that I’ve missed during this summer season.  It’s also a chance for some new ministers to get their hands dirty, to get involved and see what this is all about.  I’m excited for them but nervous which is normal considering I don’t really know how all our first time ministers will serve.  I had a good conversation the other day with a youth minister about their hiring process for adult volunteers.  We decided that even though no system is perfect there needs to be a few steps that a youth worker can take to make sure they are successful in placing the best adults in the best places.  Here is what I suggest:

  • Step 1:  Meet With Who You Recruit.  Now, it might be hard with the million different things you have on your plate, but it’s important to have some sort of interview process.  When you meet with someone you can pick up on body language, you put a face to the name and you give yourself the opportunity to get more comfortable with the volunteer.  If you can’t meet face to face, the phone is fine (in my opinion) but I would try having a trusted ministry leader or a fellow staffer conduct in case you can’t.
  • Step 2: Background Check.  The denomination I work for requires it and has a system for this, but if your church doesn’t have this established, you should look into it.  Our background check allows us to check references and see if the volunteer has ever been involved in illegal activity.
  • Step 3: First Serve.  This can actually be done before Step 2.  A First Serve gives the volunteer an opportunity to try out the ministry before fully committing.  It’s easy to assume that because they said they wanted to get involved that they would be all committed; however, if they’ve never seen your ministry they won’t know what to expect.  They may not like it, may feel uncomfortable or realize that they don’t really like teens.
  • Step 4: Buddy Them Up and Train Them.  Give them an experienced volunteer minister to serve alongside.  They may have served in a student ministry in a different church; however, new church, new systems and new culture.  Give them someone to shadow or team up with that can answer questions when you aren’t around.  Give them someone who knows names and how to learn them.  Give them someone they can lean on.
  • Step 5: Follow Up.  One thing we do is have a 3 month review.  We just started doing this last year, but it’s important to review the new volunteer ministers.  But we don’t just take the time to analyze them, we allow them to analyze us.  When they walk in, they have a fresh set of eyes; therefore, they can tell us what we’re missing.

Hiring volunteer ministers shouldn’t be complicated or overwhelming.  When implementing the steps I’m not the best at doing it, I know it’s something our Adult Ministry Coordinator would love for me to do better.  Once we implement a system and stay to it we can hopefully avoid situations where we are letting go of ministers months, weeks, or even days after they serve.
I know that there are more or different steps to recruiting ministers I would be more than interested to hear other people’s thoughts.