Volunteering 101: Serve, Feed, Point


Last night one of my students got sick from the combination of junk food and heat, which led to a Pitch-Perfect level of spewing all over the guys bunk quarters. Nothing sends alarm through an guy volunteer quite like realize that women aren’t allowed in male quarters right after everything gets covered in vomit. That’s right, one of my adult leaders actually cleaned  puke off of the students feet.

The student innocently said that the leader didn’t have to do that. To that, the leader responded that if Jesus can wash feet, so can he.  As the adult leader came outside to report, the tears in his eyes weren’t from cleaning up puke but because God opened wide a door for him to share Christ with our student. The adult wasn’t even wanting to kick me because I wasn’t back there to help. He knew that as I’ve stated many times at leader meetings,  “The good news is that I won’t ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do, and the bad news is that I won’t ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do.”

Volunteer 101 is really about serving. At volunteer training I can talk until I’m blue in the face about safe sanctuaries, good conversation starters, what to do with lulls during small groups, and how they can help me at the next Lock-Out. However, if the leaders do not have a servant spirit, they will eventually flop out and go serve in the next form of ministry.

Of course, you have to talk about all those policies, procedures, and programming, but it should be out of a place of service, not just to the student or youth minister but to God.

3 Ways to Lead Volunteers in Serving:

1. Serve yourself– No, I don’t mean go first in the line for pizza. What I do mean is that your heart and actions in serving God should line up and overflow into the ministry. This should inspire volunteers to want to be like Him and serve too!

2. Feed my sheep- Model with your adult volunteers how you would like them to lead the youth. Show interest in their life, family, and spiritual walk. Be consistent and diligent! This will give them a specific example to follow.

3. Point them in a direction– Part of you serving them well is training them on all those policies, procedures, curriculum, and programs. There is nothing worse than stepping into a ministry ready to serve with no direction! You can even help them narrow down what opportunity best fits their strengths, gifts, and calling within the ministry and church.

This creates a culture of community and team. Everyone knows the common goal, and that is being like Christ taking on the role of a servant!


Caroline has served in student ministry for almost 10 years, and is currently the Youth and Young Adult Minister at Destin United Methodist Church in Destin, FL and co-founder of WAVES Girls Event, a conference for girls ages 14-24. Getting a call into youth ministry at age 16 in Nashville, TN led to Caroline getting a degree in Youth and Family Ministry and a certificate through PREPARE/ENRICH for Premarital Counseling at Abilene Christian University in 2009. She got her start in full time student ministry at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, TX. Caroline loves to encourage students in their faith, and see them be lights in their community. Some things Caroline enjoys is time on the beach, reading, sushi, coffee, traveling and time with her friends and family. You can follower her on her blog, called “Big Hare & Big Faith,” www.carolinehare.wordpress.com, or on Instagram and Twitter: @CarolineHare