Continuing education is vital for people in all walks of life, and this includes those involved in youth ministry. While paid staff are more intentionally encouraged to pursue professional development, it’s also important to recognize the need for volunteers who give their time and energy for this call to also have opportunities for professional growth.
Professional growth and development comes in various forms, such as conferences, workshops, podcasts, books, and courses. If you oversee a group of volunteers, be aware of helping them navigate what next steps are right for them to encourage their personal and professional growth.
Here’s an example of what a pathway could look like: Let’s say you have someone who’s just finished with schooling, has recently begun a career, and is looking to serve as a youth leader. The person seeks to be a mentor for a student. In the first year, the person could read The Be With Factor by Bo Boshers and the two of you could dialogue on it to understand it as a basis for mentoring. As the person continues to serve in youth ministry, a next step could be to attend Today’s Teens Conferences for a couple of years to hear from youth ministry gurus and to capture ideas honed by their interests. After 3-5 years of serving in youth ministry, maybe the person senses that this is more of a long-term calling (not necessarily as a vocation), so there is a desire to build a firm foundation of youth ministry understanding. Attending the Horizons course with a mentor is a great next step.
Of course, this isn’t the course of action for every youth leader. Given all the resource options, you can help all your volunteers grow in their understanding and skill development of this ministry as God continues to shape their faith.
One side note: Don’t do this primarily to strengthen your own ministry and team. First and foremost, this is about keeping each volunteer’s individual personal growth in mind as God continues to stretch and mold them. Seek and discern with them on what God’s next steps for them are, and do what is in your power to help them move forward towards Christ.
What ways do you help your volunteers develop?