A New Job Description For Veteran Volunteer Youth Workers?

Just last night I chatted to Marve and Maryann. They are two incredible youth workers who have been volunteering for nearly 20 years in youth ministry! How awesome is that? However, a trend that I often see with veteran volunteers is that they think they have a ‘sell by’ or ‘best before’ date in youth ministry… If you speak to Marve and Maryann, you don’t get that sense… Why is that?

Veteran Volunteer Youth Ministry

Here are four reasons (or updated job description) for volunteers to hang in for the long haul:

1) They realize their new equipping role: Veteran volunteers who stay in youth ministry trenches realize the importance of investing in younger leaders. Marve and Maryann know that youth pastors like me need coaches and mentors in my ministry. Sure, I can train younger leaders, but it is incredible when I can help veterans to invest in the ‘up and coming’ leaders. Watching my veteran leaders take time to walk alongside my younger leaders is a joy to watch. Most of all, my veterans leaders would tell you it’s incredibly rewarding too. In the last year I have met with a number of my veteran volunteers and specifically encouraged them to invest and coach younger leaders. They truly ‘get it’!

2) They realize that millennial students are concerned less about age: Yes, it’s true. Studies are showing that millennial students are more accepting of authority figures and in particular older people. Students don’t expect veteran volunteers to understand everything in their world, they simply wanted to be known, belong, and be heard.

3) The realize their supporting role of the paid youth worker: If you are a veteran volunteer reading this post, I can’t tell you how important it is to ensure that you fully support your paid youth worker. A veteran volunteer is aware that the younger paid youth worker will make mistakes and need wisdom from a friendly face and a supportive coach. If you are that veteran volunteer realize that it may take months to gain trust and allow the paid youth worker to realize your experience is not a threat.

4) They realize how their schedule suits youth ministry better than others: I know this may not seem significant, but veteran volunteers have some of the most flexible schedules and can be the most dependable people. Yes, it’s great to have a variation of ages of volunteers, but veteran volunteers understand commitment and often have more time to invest. They don’t have little kids at home and will likely have more time to go the extra mile for a youth ministry. They are the ones who can show up to a sports game or a play when no one else can.

What would you add to this list? How do you use your veteran volunteers? Are you a volunteer? How is your role evolving? 

Phil <><