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12 Tips I Give My Volunteer Youth Workers – Part 2

In my previous post, I posted 6 of the 12 tips I give my leaders to help them be effective in their ministry. Here are the next 6…

As I said yesterday, some of these have been “borrowed” from friends, and some are my own specific tips. All in all, I hope they are tips you can use for your volunteer meetings and trainings, or training manual…

7. Be a Leader – Not their friend:  It’s a trap many leaders can fall into: Trying to get students to like them by being their friend. They already have lots of friends who give them bad advice; they need you to be a leader in their lives.

8. Be a Leader – Not a Chaperon: A chaperon will stand outside looking in at the group – Leaders are invested in the group and have relationships with the students. Be invested…

9. Be a Leader – Not a Parent: If you have a student at FUSION and they are acting out, don’t be the parent. Let another leader know, and let them handle it. It will save embarrassment and also give you the night off of parenting…

10. Find Contact Time Outside of FUSION: Students will really know you care when you send them a postcard (available in the black cabinet), Facebook them, show up to the last 15 minutes of a game, text them. If you have 30 minutes a week, you can easily do this…

11. Read Phil’s emails: The more plugged in you are with events, meetings, and latest happenings, will help you communicate events better with students and help you to know what is happening as a whole.

12. Check the website: For calendar, videos, teaching plans, curriculum, and training documents. These are all here to simplify your ministry and save you time with phone calls, emails, and text messages to Phil.

There you go… So what you add to this list? What tips do you give your leaders?

Phil <><

12 Tips I Give My Volunteer Youth Workers – Part 1

If you are looking to train your leaders and help them be successful in what they do, it’s important to come up with a training manual that is quick and easy to read. It also should be highly practical.

Below is a page from my volunteer leaders manual. They are 12 tips I give my leader to be successful in youth ministry. Some of these tips have been borrowed from friends and books. Thanks for a couple! Feel free to borrow what you like!

Here are the first 6 tips I give my youth leaders… the rest will be posted in part 2, tomorrow… 

1. Be Consistent: This is the best way to develop great relationships with students. When students know you are going to be there consistently, they are more likely to share their joys and struggles with you…

2. Show up a few minutes early if you can? The most awkward time for students is the first 15 minutes. A caring adult makes all the difference. In addition, some of the best conversations happen in the first 15 minutes when there are few people around.

3. Stay a few minutes at the end? When students are leaving is sometimes the best opportunity to listen to how kids are doing or what God is challenging them in. (They might not share this in small group, but might want to talk alone after).

4. Join or Start a Game: It feels forced and awkward to walk up to a group of students. Instead, join them in a game or activity where you can ease your way into their lives. Before you know it, questions about their week and school seem natural.

5. Ask lots of Questions: The best way to show you care and to find out about students lives is to learn a repertoire of questions: “What’s your name? What school do you attend? What do you do when you are not here or at school? How would your friends describe you? What’s the highlight of your week? What’s the low point of your week?

6. Avoid “Leader Huddles”: It’s great to catch up with each other, but we need to make sure that our conversations and catch-ups are brief. It’s important to make the most of every opportunity we have with students…

Well, there’s the first 6 for you. Check back to see the rest!

Phil <><


LIVE Leadership Curriculum Winner Announced!

Thanks to everyone who entered to win the LIVE Leadership Curriculum.

If you missed out, you can still contact Matty McCage from the info below, or click on the banner and fill out your contact info.  For now, here is the lucky winner:

Alex Hensley from River Valley Church, in Bossier City, LA. (Alex, you will get an email from me with info on how you can gain your prize).

Keeping Leaders Plugged-In on Missions Trips

In my previous post, I talked about the importance of keeping parents plugged-in with your mission trip experience once you arrive at your destination.

Today, I want to emphasize the importance of preparing our leaders for mission experiences as they support students. This video is a quick “Top Ten” video update of important things I created to remind leaders as they prepare to leave for our trip. Some of the content has come from my friends over at who provide some pretty sweet resources. Leadertreks also provide some great mission experiences for students with a leadership emphasis. Check out a review I did for The Student Mission Trip Greenhouse too. It’s a brilliant freebie you can download straight from their website.

In addition to this video, I have prepared my leaders in the following ways.

Continue Reading…

8 Reasons Why My Second Office is Starbucks

If you follow me on or , you will regularly see me checking-in at my local Starbucks or a similar coffee house. Recently a lot of youth ministry friends have suggested that I have a coffee addiction and need serious help. Often my reply is, “we are in youth ministry… we all need help”.

Before I go on, it’s important to point out that I do spend a good amount of time in my office at church, and I love working with a great team of people. It’s also imperative that I spend a good amount of time in the office to stay connected and communicate what is happening in my ministry while also hearing about others ministry areas. But, for now, let me share 8 good reasons for why I think it’s also important for me to spend time working at Starbucks too… Continue Reading…

A Quick Way to Honor Volunteers & Build Community with Students

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Last week we shot this video of students and leaders to play at our midweek program. The school year is coming to a close and this is the time of year when I encourage my volunteers to take time off and spend time with their families. It’s also a great time to look back and remind them why we do what we do.

This video helps the leaders to get a glimpse into the impact they are having as well as allow students to consider all that is done for them. Videos always help build community too!

It was shot on a FLIP HD, edited in 20 minutes on iMovie, and played last Wednesday. Simple, easy, and effective. Anyone can do this…

Making Volunteer Meetings Worthwhile

A few weeks ago a friend who is starting out in ministry asked me two questions:

First Question: “How often do you meet with your volunteers all together”?

1) Meetings Every Two Months, Not Every Month: My volunteers are busy and I prefer to honor their time and their families by keeping it to every two months. However, it’s important to “supplement” them with other training and communication.

2) Weekly Email Updates: This helps them to keep plugged in with the details of the programs and upcoming events. I also text, call, tweet, and email leaders individually.

3) Training / Update Videos: On the months we do not meet I create quick (6-8) minute videos that include programmatic information and a quick training tip for them. The training tip is usually something I have seen in the previous weeks that I want my volunteers focus on.

Second Question: “What do you do in meetings to make them worthwhile”?

1) Keep them Short! If I can get get meetings done in under 90 minutes that is my goal, (I actually shoot for 60 minutes). Again, it’s important I honor leaders time, but it’s also imperative that I realize that more than 90 minutes of a meeting equals too much information for them. I want my leaders to walk away with one or two pressing applications.

2) Create a Healthy Format: I have found a healthy format that seems to work for my volunteers and I have had good feedback too. Here’s what it looks like:

a) Share your “God moments” in students lives. (This is kind of what Andy Stanley refers to as talking about your “wins” in ministry).

b) Share struggles you need help with. This is where I open up the meeting for anyone to share to struggles or ask for clarifications about the ministry. I also ask other leaders give their feedback and advice to leaders who are struggling – It’s a great way to empower the knowledge base of veteran volunteers to help the rookies too. When they can give the advice, I love to sit back and listen!

c) Training Tip. Usually a “teachable moment” training tip based on what I have been seeing in our events and programs.

d) Message series and teaching schedule coming up in the next two months. (This includes a handout of a schedule that includes the message title, big idea, bible passages, and creative ideas).

e) Calendar, events, etc.

f) Any other business?

3) Meet in a Great Place: Whenever I can, I try to meet at a coffee house or place like that. In our city we have a Panera Bread. We have our meetings on a Saturday morning and the leaders get treated to coffee and breakfast. I find it helps us all to relax and be more conversational. Panera Bread is not incredible, but it still beats church coffee!

4) Ask Them When to Meet: Instead of assuming I know best, it’s better to ask the leaders when the best time would be. For my discipleship leaders, they said that Saturday morning is the best time to meet. For my large group leaders, they want to meet immediately following the program on a Wednesday evening. Given the option of being out on another day, they said they prefer to “get it all done on the same day”.

5) Split Teams: I have all my leaders together for BBQ’s, Christmas parties, and Year end “Firing Parties”, (you can ask me about that if you like). However, for my meetings every two months, I meet them by team / program. If I was to have everyone together, it would only water down the content and make much of it seem irrelevant to certain leaders for parts of the meeting. Even when I have had small volunteer teams, I have still found it important to meet seperately. With that said, as mentioned, it is imperative to have times when “we all come together” to celebrate, connect, and build each other up. It’s also important that I connect the dots for how all the programs and teams work together to fullfil the vision… Make sense?

AND FINALLY, and I think most importantly… Don’t forget that when we are at youth programs with our leaders, some of the best training opportunities come when we can have a quick teachable moments with a leader and encourage them in what they are doing. Don’t think it all has to be covered at a meeting…

This is what I do, I am sure there are better ways… What ideas can you give me for leading your volunteers?

Phil <><


I Quit Ministry

Did I fool you with the title of this post?

I was nearly fooled by a bunch of my volunteer leaders this morning on April fools day. My first email arrived from Trent, and I must admit, he had me for about 20 seconds. Take a look at some of the messages I received this morning:

Phil – so sorry mate – but I must resign from the high school ministry immediately. Andrew (our awesome Middle School Director), told me that he had a spot for me in the middle school and its too great of an opportunity to pass up. Cheers. Trent.

I was going to wait on this, but when I saw that you were going to talk about the spring and summer schedule, I wanted to be fair with you and let you know I am not going to be part of the High school team anymore.

Sorry to let you all know this way, but I have decided to quit High school ministries after our big party in May…

Andrew,  and I sat down in Chicago and he made a compelling argument about middle school ministry. I have been praying about it since then, and I just feel I should go in that direction immediately. I need to step out of high school. Continue Reading…

Simple But Effective Training for Volunteers – Part 3: Consistency

Today I want to wrap up with a quick but crucial training tip I give all my volunteers. In my previous post I talked about the importance of using questions effectively to help students gain truth and application in their lives. In addition, I expressed the importance of keeping training for volunteers simple: “Effective training is better when it is simple, memorable, and practical”.

Today’s tip is probably the easiest to remember yet perhaps the most crucial: Consistency is Key. Consistency is the knot that ties everything together. Continue Reading…

Simple But Effective Training For Volunteers – Part 2: Questions!

In my previous post, I expressed the importance of keeping training for volunteers simple: “Effective training is better when it is simple, memorable, and practical”.

Today I want to focus on how leaders can help students learn God’s truth better through using good questions. The simple but effective teaching principle is this: “Don’t just preach it, let good questions help you teach it”

Here’s the background I give my leaders:

They Just Don’t Get It! As leaders, we all want students to “get it” and to apply God’s truth to their lives. Sometimes the answer is so obvious to us, but no matter how hard we try to drum it into their heads, they just don’t seem to get it!  My answer is this, “We can’t make them get it, it’s our job to lead them and help them to get it”. That’s where good questions come in…

Why Questions? Above anything else in the adolescent brain is the desire for autonomy. We can’t expect that they will arrive at good conclusions by simply telling them. Yes, Millenials of today will give time to listen to adults, but they still need to feel like they are a part of the learning process. This is why it is important to ask good questions. By “good” questions, I refer to questions that are asked within a Biblical framework and not simply a students opinion.  Continue Reading…

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