Because of You…The Volunteers Are Everything

We concluded our midweek programming at Ground Zero for the school year on May 11, so we invited our volunteers to a Volunteer Appreciation Night last Wednesday. As you may know, it’s tough to get volunteers who have served tirelessly every week all year long to show up one more night, but a large percentage still came, making my point more true that we have the best ministry team I’ve ever served on and led.

I believe they showed up for a few reasons:

1. We want and allow them to be owners and contributors. Therefore, we provide multiples avenues for them to be heard. I asked two of our coaches (volunteers who pastor small group leaders) to lead the feedback forums, and they did an exceptional job. Everyone had an opportunity to discuss, write, and talk about many of the most important questions at hand. We ask a lot of our volunteers, so if we don’t give them opportunities to truly be heard as an owner and contributor, they won’t come back.

2. We shared stories. This is a huge part of what we do. At Ground Zero, we are definitely all about getting down to business and reaching more students for Christ. But, we know there is a time to celebrate what God is doing. Therefore, we open the floor to hearing and sharing in the stories of what God did this year.

3. We joked and ate. We wouldn’t be a real youth ministry without some games and good food (at least at GZ), so we played a classic game of “Eat My Oreo” and ate Acapulco.

4. We shared the vision for the future. We hired a new student pastor at White Bear Lake (Maggie Briggs, who is a freakin’ STUD!), and she started the job the last day of student programming. Fortunately, she has been a key volunteer for three years and already knows Ground Zero better than I do. So, this “transition,” which can normally be difficult, has been of no struggle at all. Therefore, together, we gave just a taste of the vision for the future. However, we didn’t dive too deep into this realm, because we truly want the volunteers to help shape the vision for next year. Hence, we asked for more feedback and didn’t simply vision all on them.

These elements — feedback, fun/food, stories, and vision-casting — make for, I believe, a “can’t miss” end of the year party.

We also showed this video, Because of You, made by our awesome video team.

What do you do for your volunteers at the end of the year?

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