One of the advantages in traveling to visit different ministries around the world is that you can be a bit more impartial about what is happening than you can in your own congregation. When talking with volunteers in ministries at various locations, I find they often have incredible ideas of how to improve the ministry in some way. Often, sadly, these ideas are not heard by ministry leaders or even more tragically, ignored. Our ministries are leaving so many great ideas untested and the children, teens and their families are perhaps missing out on the very ingredients that would make their spiritual foundations stronger or help them more fully reach their godly potential.
The solution begins with scheduling regular times to meet with each volunteer. Preferably, these conversations should be held privately and in a neutral place so the volunteer feels comfortable being completely honest. There are five basic questions ministry leaders should ask volunteers during these conversations.
- What is going well in the ministry? This can apply to the Bible class they teach, activity they manage or the ministry as a whole.
- What in the ministry needs to be changed, improved or deleted? Once again, the volunteer may answer the question from various perspectives. You want to make sure, however, that you allow them to fully answer the question. If they have twenty ideas, you need to hear them all.
- What do your Bible students need to be able to grow more spiritually? This may reflect earlier answers or may include things your ministry may not have much power to change. It can also be the beginning of some crucial new ideas for ministering to the young people you serve.
- How is your personal spiritual health at the moment? If a volunteer is struggling spiritually, he or she may need a break or extra support to be able to minister to their Bible students. Because volunteers working with children and teens can become isolated from supportive adult relationships, they can be struggling spiritually for some time before anyone notices. It’s hard to help young people be strong spiritually when one is feeling spiritually weak.
- What can I do to support your ministry? It’s important to recognize each volunteer has a personal ministry within your corporate ministry. Finding ways to support them in their efforts to minister to specific young people can give them the help and encouragement they need to continue.
During your conversation, these five questions may spark others. Some conversations may last only a few minutes, while others may last hours. In general, the more often you have this conversation with a volunteer, the less he or she will need to share in a particular conversation. For your ministry to be as effective as it possibly can, you need to solicit and consider valuable feedback from every volunteer. Otherwise, you may be missing out on crucial information.