Getting Adult Involvement in Youth Ministry--Baby Steps
Many churches have the mentality that hiring a youth director/pastor/worker will solve all of their youth-related issues and they can "wipe their hands clean" of all things youth. But those in the trenches of youth ministry know that no youth program will ever be effective if it is the youth worker's one-person show. Lots of youth workers ask the question, "How do you get parents and volunteers involved?" I was just asked this same question by a fellow youth worker who was fairly new to her congregation and was facing a sense of apathy from many parents of youth. So, I laid out for her how we've made the progression from getting them to bring their kids to getting them involved and recorded my thoughts here. This is not the only way or even the best way...just the way that has worked for us.
1. Rely on them for planning. Almost every youth program has events throughout the year. The last thing a youth worker wants to do is plan a retreat while half the youth group is going to be at a band contest, or plan a mission trip when a large number of kids will be at cheerleading camp. Parents are an invaluable resource for simply synchronizing the calendar so that youth events are at a time that are most convenient for everyone.
2. Get their help with mundane, but necessary tasks in the youth program. Just about every church has a minimum requirement on the number of adults that should be at every youth meeting, event or trip. Also, many churches have limited transportation (only one church van, or maybe two vans and only one driver). Recruit parents to be "warm bodies" at meetings and drivers and chaperones on trips. This just gets them used to being a part of the program.
3. Move into more spiritual roles. Many youth groups are set up in a small group ministry model where kids spend time developing relationships and learning in small groups with kids their own age and gender. The next step for many volunteers will be to spend time as a small group leader. While some ministries require a lot of planning and preparation, our small group ministry will be for a short question time at the end of our Sunday night Bible study. It is my hope and goal that these small groups will begin to do some activities on their own outside of the regular youth group meetings.