I’ve noticed the auto care center keeps putting a sticker on my windshield that tells me when it’s time to come back to the shop. It has two options: come back after a certain date, or after a certain number of miles. 

My point?

I think we’ve hit our ministry mileage. 

Even though not much time has passed, your volunteers (and hello—you!) are probably feeling the milage.

That probably means it’s a good time to re-invest, re-check in, re-connect, and re-encourage a group of leaders who have been running the miles with you. Your volunteers. 

If you’re wondering what it looks like to re-check in and re-invest in volunteers after months of a pandemic, my friends Shef, Candice, Brett, and Charlie had a conversation about re-engaging volunteers on the Rethinking Youth Ministry podcast. Here are five big things you can do this month . . .

1. Check in.

You’ve been doing this through text, Zoom, phone calls, and email. As the pandemic becomes more normalized, don’t assume your volunteers’ worlds have gone back to normal. Ask how they’re doing—how they’re really doing. They’ve been leading students alongside you while they themselves have full-time jobs, or families, or isolation, or their own struggles.

My friend (and Orange Specialist) Charlie Conder has said: 

“When you care for leaders, they become caring leaders.” 

So, check-in. Bake food, send a gift, just drop a phone call! 

Another suggestion: If you’ve returned, or plan to return to a building—assess your volunteer’s level of comfort as you talk about meeting in person. If they’re not okay showing up, what other ways could you value them by giving them a different opportunity to serve?

2. Remind your leaders of their value.

Being a small group leader was already tough. It’s even tougher when students don’t show up to Zoom calls, or don’t return text messages, or ignore phone calls. Take the chance to remind your leaders of their value. What they’re doing matters. Being a small group leader continues to be more important than ever, and we could all use a pep-talk these days. 

3. Make intentional culture deposits.

This part of ministry got way harder when things went digital. Culture-building happens naturally in person, but over time and distance, culture can start to fade. How can you intentionally reinforce the volunteer culture you’ve created? 

4. Course correct.

There’s probably a leader on your mind who hasn’t been the most engaged in this new form of ministry. Don’t stress—it’s not too late to help leaders who’ve struggled to engage, or didn’t know how to re-engage in this season. Why? Showing up randomly, and showing up consistently should be a year-round thing. Keep bridging the gap for leaders as they learn new ways to connect with their few all year round. 

5. Help them connect.

Continue to help make it easy for small group leaders to connect with students year-round. Give leaders a list of new ways to connect with their students, questions to ask, or cards to send. Pre-stamped postcards can be a big win to a small group leader by making it easy for them to value their students. 

And a little encouragement? Keep connecting. Keep encouraging. Keep investing. It matters . . . and you’re doing great. You deserve a sticker.


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