Youthwork volunteers

Interesting reflections from agent K on the challenges of being a volunteer, I particularly liked the re-hashing of this famous quote on greatness:
Some are born great youthworkers.
Others achieve great youthwork.
Others have youthwork thrust upon them

I think a lot of volunteers have entered youth work by way of number three, this has been the churches recruitment “strategy” a lot of the time. However or whatever reasons that volunteers volunteered, there are thousands of committed people in this role making a difference week by week (I was at a FABULOUS group yesterday morning). It is fair to say though that it is increasingly difficult to find people who are happy to volunteer to work with young people!
Roy wonders if, “the history of poor recruitment in youthwork counts against us?” and I certainly think the answer is yes! I’ve seen churches where the youth work has been “thrust upon” someone without support and resources, then them being stuck in that role til they die or move! I’m pleased that I am beginning to see clearer expectations being written for volunteer roles as well as a time boundary for reviewing and discussing the role.
wanna b a yoof leeda.jpg I still think though that the Church are suffering from not supporting youth leaders enough in their role, either by not providing resources/training/finance OR by expecting youth leaders to do several other roles in the church too. I would love to see MUCH more support for the volunteers and a recognition that if young people are their ministry that is where they should invest their energy.
Probably about 95% of Church Youthwork is delivered by volunteers. If you’re a volunteer, what could the Church be doing better? If you’re a Youth worker, what are you doing to support, enable and encourage your volunteers? Comments Please ……
(for those that know Mark Berry … is it just me or does that cartoon look incredibly like him?)

5 Replies to “Youthwork volunteers”

  1. “I would love to see MUCH more support for the volunteers and a recognition that if young people are their ministry that is where they should invest their energy.”
    Praise Be to that Ian!!!
    I have to admit that I am lucky as my church is funding me on the Engage course, & I get good support from the Rector – regular meetings etc. – and the PCC – who are coming more & more round to the recognition that the work I’m doing is as much church as what goes on at 10am!!

  2. I just kind of fell into youthwork – it was natural. At age 15 I started a youth house group, leading my younger peers, and it went from there. I was always happy to volunteer, and was well supported (generally).
    Then when I became a paid worker responsible for volunteers, they didn’t seem to want any support I offered them! I don’t think I ever quite worked out how they wanted supporting. I guess with some, it was just talking about youthwork, it was important that I listened to their issues. And very occasionally they wanted advice and help.
    Back as a volunteer now, I would agree that being listened to is what I want. The leadership of the church are so busy, that it is difficult to find time to tell them what’s happening with the youth. I would feel a lot more supported if they listened, and if they were consistent in what they said about the direction of youthwork in the church. I also feel that my experience and skills aren’t recognised, but that might say more about my pride than the church.
    Do we give our volunteers enough of our time? And how do we do this best?

  3. I (in theory at least) try to offer most of my volunteers support through friendship and spending time with volunteers (although I find trying to do 2 youth work jobs this is almost impossible). What I would like to be doing is having regular social gatherings just so that we can get to know one another better ( I have one younger volunteer that I am meeting with today in fact to talk about how things are going and about what he wants to do in the future). In the past I have found that some of my volunteers have been having real struggles and it wasn’t until they decided they couldn’t take it any more and quite that I was aware of it, I think if there is a greater level of friendship then it is easier to talk about the real issues. That reminds me I am supposed to be setting up such an evening at the moment!

  4. As a youth worker, I struggle to figure out how to manage all my volunteers and trying to figure out their roles can sometimes feel like trying to solve a complex math equation. In terms of my students, I feel like I know what I’m doing, but with the youth staff, I sometimes have no clue. Any thoughts?

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