HELP! My Volunteer Didn’t Show Up!


It’s November, the weather is turning, the holidays are upon us, attendance is surging then dropping, and the volunteer you were counting on didn’t show up.  What now?

Let’s back up a step and do the first things first.

  1.       Prepare.

The Holidays come at the same time every year.  From one youth minister to another, I say this with deepest empathy: Christmas will be December 25th this year.  We have no excuse for being surprised.

Look ahead to Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and the surrounding weeks with an eye to your volunteer’s needs and desires.  Call them!  Find out who is going to be out of town when and prepare accordingly.  For us, this means we take a hiatus from Wednesday night and Sunday night programs and have combined Sunday Schools during these weeks.  Our volunteers feel cared for by getting the time off, and the youth ministers know what to expect.

  1.    Simplify.

This holiday season is not an ideal time to get fancy or elaborate.  Make it easy on yourself and your students, by having a simple teaching plan that would be a cinch for a leader to step in and out of.  Perhaps there is an advent video series you could show during this time.  If your volunteer doesn’t show up, maybe a parent or grandparent would be willing to run the video and ask pre-determined questions at the end. In fact, consider making a list of “on-call” parents who would be willing to sit in at the last minute if needed on a given week. You build trust by being prepared, and many parents would be glad to serve in this way if asked ahead of time.

  1.    Pray.

God knows the needs of your students, their parents, your volunteers, and your own family during this time.  He knows your capacity and He knows who said they will be there, but won’t. Work hard, prepare well, and entrust Him with the weight and saving of the world.

If you have done these three things, if a volunteer doesn’t show up, it will not be a crisis. Pray, simplify, prepare, and enjoy this season with Emmanuel, your family and your students!

Image attribution: Jamie Wilson / Thinkstock


Rebekah got her start in youth ministry at Christ Church in Montevideo, Uruguay and is now the Minister of Youth Discipleship at First United Methodist Church in Tulsa, OK. She earned her B.S. in Organizational Management and Ethics from Oklahoma Wesleyan University. Rebekah is married to her soulmate, Philippe. Together they like to drink mate, play soccer with their dogs, and dream of traveling the world. Rebekah has read Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy six times.