The Perfect Youth Ministry Volunteer

When I first started working in youth ministry, my assumption was that you had to be “cool” with a personality that drew teenagers to you and very athletic to keep up with and be able to “best” them in sports.   I can remember in college working with Thomas Road Baptist Church’s and being jealous of some of my peers because they just seemed “cooler” then me (well, they probably were), or just more “popular”.  I’m not sure when I came to the realization that “cool” and “popular” really didn’t have anything to do with youth ministry.   What draws teens to a an adult worker is authenticity, “Realness”.   If an adult is willing to listen and be honest as well as live out a life that is consistent and authentic, then you’ve earned the right to be a part of their life.  I’ve never regretted investing into the life of a teenager, no matter what the outcome of the relationship, I’ve always been honored that a teenager would allow me to be a part of their life and want to be a  part of mine.  If I was able to even be a little bit of help to them or impact their life in any way, then I’m grateful for the opportunity.  Below is a great article.   If you’re a youth pastor reading this or someone interested in working with youth, the 4 realities listed are true statements.  Enjoy the article


Youth Pastor, Chris Dortch, in North Carolina recently posted on his church’s blog looking for volunteers. Here’s what he’s looking for — sounds pretty good to us.

What would the “perfect” youth ministry volunteer look like?  I think I have an answer, but first let’s address some of the myths.

Myth #1 “You’ve got to be cool.”
Let’s face it, we probably weren’t that cool in high school and we’re certainly not cool as adults.  Students don’t need someone to be cool, they need authenticity.  If you are willing to be yourself around teenagers, you’re a great candidate for volunteering in the youth ministry.

Myth #2 “You’ve got to be young.”
Sometimes we think that the 20-somethings “relate better” to teenagers because of their age.  Most teenagers have a hard time telling the difference between at 25 year-old who is married and a 37 year-old who is married (they are both “old”).  Research shows that teenagers are actually drawn to the oldest person in the room who will listen to them and take them seriously.  If you are willing to listen to teenagers and take their problems seriously, you’re a great candidate for volunteering in the youth ministry.

Myth #3 “You’ve got to act like a teenager.”
There is a difference between being child-like and being childish.  One of my youth ministry heroes, Duffy Robbins says, “Teenagers don’t need adults who act like teenagers.  They need adults who don’t freak out when teenagers act like teenagers.”  If you can act like an adult and not “freak out” when teenagers act like teenagers, then you’re a great candidate for volunteering in the youth ministry.

Myth #4 “You’ve got to a Bible scholar.”
Sure, we want you to know something about the Bible, but we don’t expect you to have all of the answers.  In John 9, the man born blind gives us a great example of how to respond to questions we don’t know the answers to, “Whether Jesus was a sinner or not, I don’t know.  One thing I do know, I once was blind but now I can see!”  If you are willing to help students discover answers to their questions, you’re a great candidate for volunteering in the youth ministry.

Myth #5 “You’ve got to know everything in teen culture.”
It’s okay if you don’t listen to Justin Bieber and you still listen to Abba on vinyl.  Students want you to be you.  Many of them would even love to hear stories about the time you were in a KISS cover band!  If you don’t know who Justin Bieber is, you’re the perfect candidate for volunteering in the youth ministry.

If these aren’t the things that teenagers are looking for, what do they need in an adult volunteer?

Reality #1 “Students need adults who will live a life honoring to God.”
Students are searching for adults who are authentic in their walk with Christ.  If there is one thing that teenagers have a keen ability to spot, it is fake people.

Reality #2 “Students need adults who are interested enough to learn their name.”
Students want to know if adults care enough to remember their names.  When I first came to Christ Community Church over ten years ago, I had a middle school girl ask, “Do you know my name?”  To my embarrassment, I had no clue.  I told her that if she reminded me of her name one last time, I would make sure that I knew it the next week.  I will never forget Alice.

Reality #3 “Students need adults who are interested in their life.”
Students need adults who will spend time with them, pray for them, say an encouraging word, believe in them, and simply laugh with them.  Students want to know if you are willing to come into “their world” and discover who they are.

Reality #4 “Students need adults who are consistent with their attendance.”
Students are familiar with adults who come in and out of their lives like a revolving door.  Teachers change from semester to semester.  Parents change from alternating weekends.  Teenagers need to know which adults are going to be consistent in their life.  This is one of the reasons that I have committed to youth ministry for nearly twenty years.

Students may ask it this way, “Do you care about me?  Do you know my name?  Will you be here next week?”  If you are willing to show teenagers you care about them, willing to learn some names, and be consistent with your attendance… YOU are the perfect youth ministry volunteer.

We believe that every teenager needs five godly adults who are investing in their lives.  When a student in our church’s youth group is asked, “Who are the most influential adults in your life?”  We want their parents and adults from our student ministry to be in their top five!


Chris Dortch has been in ministry since 1993 and has been the Lead Youth Pastor of Christ Community Church since January of 2002.  You can find a few of his resources at DOWNLOAD YOUTH MINISTRY.

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