My church’s budget runs from July to June, so the new budget proposals from each ministry are due pretty soon. As I work on modifying the student ministries finances for next year, one of my core values becomes apparent: Invest into the volunteers! A couple weeks ago I suggested that adult volunteers should never pay out-of-pocket when serving the ministry, but it should go a lot further than this. Not only should they not pay, but the budget should generously invest into them, as well.
I believe the best investment the youth budget can make is not to buy curriculum, big promotional banners or even to purchase Bibles. The best use of budget money is to invest back into the volunteers with training and appreciation gifts. The youth ministry cannot function without the volunteers. They’re serving students spiritually and emotionally just as much as I am. There’s no greater gift I can give students than well-trained passionate volunteers.
There’s no greater gift I can give students than well-trained passionate volunteers.
Curriculum and promotional materials may be necessary, but they won’t ever leave the lasting impression on a hurting student that a hug from a volunteer will. An unused Bible will never change a life for Christ, but the Holy Spirit working through an effective volunteer that encourages a student to start reading scripture will change a life forever.
So train them well, both in-house and with outside seminars, and then shower them with gifts and appreciation. Let them know that they are valued. It doesn’t have to be anything big — two movie passes for the volunteer and their spouse and free babysitting from a student communicates, “You put so much time and energy into these students, go relax and have a good time with your spouse.” A valued and trained team is a happy and effective team, which leads to longevity in ministry.
Again, I think the difference comes down to doing ministry because of who you are, not because of what you do. It’s about building character in ministry, not building a ministry calendar. Invest into the people and the program will explode, not the other way around.
Posted on March 29, 2007