Recruiting and developing preteen ministry volunteers can seem like a daunting task. The onset of puberty, high-energy level and short attention span of preteens scare many away. So, how do you go about recruiting and developing preteen leaders? What’s unique about the team building process when it comes to preteen ministry?
Here are some tips to consider when building a team:
1. Recruit a balanced team.
Maximize your effectiveness by recruiting various types of leaders. Partner with your youth pastor and invite High School students to help. Train them to be helpers and small group leaders. Their youth and enthusiasm adds tremendous value. Tap into the 20 something’s at your church. If you have an organized ministry for this age group, show up at events and communicate the opportunity to serve. If you don’t have anything official, simply get to know the 20 something’s at your church. As you develop relationships with them, ask them to come and visit a service. Parents of preteens and those that are retired can also be a valuable source of volunteers. Don’t overlook them. Simply asking them to be involved is the key. The goal is to have both a balance of young and old volunteers. The young bring enthusiasm and the old bring wisdom. Your preteens need both.
2. Train leaders to be coaches.
Preteens need leaders whose role is that of a coach. Coaches walk alongside of their team members as they strive to reach a goal together. A preteen leader’s goal is pointing students to Jesus. The leader’s role is to walk alongside of preteens as they begin to own their relationship with God for themselves. It involves letting go, but staying close by. Leaders need to be trained on how to be a coach and then be reminded often of that role.
3. Encourage consistency.
Consistency is the key to having maximum impact. Preteens need leaders who walk alongside of them in both their spiritual and personal lives. They need leaders who invest in them and know what’s going on at home, school and with friends. In order to do that, leaders need to be consistent. Every week is optimal. For those who can’t commit to that, develop other opportunities for them to serve with less of a commitment. Helping out with events, bringing food or helping to gather/set up supplies for programming are a few examples.
4. Equip leaders to understand preteens.
Preteens are in transition from childhood to adulthood. They’re going through a lot of change. Understanding their developmental process helps leaders to reach them more effectively. If leaders don’t understand why preteens can’t sit still, they’ll get frustrated. If they don’t understand the need for interaction and reflection, leaders might think communicating a concept is adequate. Educate yourself on preteen development and share what your learning with team members.
Developing a dream team won’t happen over night. It takes time and a lot of hard work. Following these five steps will steer you in the right direction.
Nick Diliberto is the creator of PreteenMinistry.net, which provides creative curriculum and resources for preteen ministry. He is also the preteen columnist for Children's Ministry magazine and Children's/Family Pastor at Seven San Diego Church.