3 Ways to build your Volunteer Leadership Team

Cedar Run's Leadership Team taken at our Leaders Overnight in August

Cedar Run's Leadership Team taken at our Leaders Overnight in August

When I came to Cedar Run just over 6 years ago, we had a total of 3 leaders including myself.  Now, as you can see from the picture above, we have a total of 13 leaders not counting myself (1 is actually missing from this picture).  This was taken at our annual Leaders Overnight (something I wrote about in my last post).  When I look at this picture, I am in awe how God has blessed us over the years.  After all, as great as our ministry is and how much God has been working in it, there are not people lining up waiting to be a leader here.  So, how did this happen?

I believe this happened for 3 simple reasons.

1. Prayer

I know, I know, that’s the standard answer – prayer.  But, I have to give credit where credit is due.  Without the Lord apart of this and me praying for God to provide the workers, I doubt I would ever have this many leaders.  Jesus says in Matthew 9:37-38, “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”  Christ himself calls us to ask the Lord for the workers and he will provide.  I’m not saying that he will do this overnight as it took 6 years to get where we are at today.  But, be faithful and keep turning to the Lord and he will provide.

2. Build from Within

As I said above, when I first came to Cedar Run, there were just 2 other leaders other than myself.  So, other than praying, how could I be strategic about recruiting more leaders?  Being new, I did not know any potential leaders within the Church who could help.  So, I began to recruit what my Senior Pastor called “mercenaries”.  These mercenaries were former leaders of mine who did not go to Cedar Run before.  So, I brought them into Cedar Run to help me build the program and to invest in the youth.  All total, for the first 2 years, I brought in 6 mercenaries to help.  It helped, for a time, but ultimately it did not work out.  In fact, of the 6 people I brought in from outside Cedar Run, only 1 is still with me today.

That is when I had to change my approach.  I had to start building our leadership team from within. As I became more and more familiar with the youth and adults at Cedar Run, I started to recruiting them to be youth leaders.  In fact, of the now 13 leaders I have, 11 of them went through Cedar Run’s youth program.  In many ways, it’s an honor them to be able to serve and a testimony to your program’s effect on others if you are able to have former youth serve as leaders.  It was great to see that as I started recruiting people from within Cedar Run, I  started retaining and building upon our leadership team.

The reason why the “mercenaries” did not work out is that Cedar Run was never their home.  They had been going to other churches and felt more apart of those churches still.  They were just at Cedar Run to help with the youth program and never got attached to the Church as a whole.  The leaders who already made Cedar Run their Church home stayed longer because they had more invested.  Not only did they love teens and want them to come to know Christ in a real and personal way, but they had a connection to Cedar Run and felt more apart of the overall Church.

3. Appreciate them

Just like prayer, this one seems like a no-brainer.  But, the more you appreciate your leaders for all the sacrifices and hard work they put into as a volunteer, the more likely they will stay longer and want to continue.  Let’s face it, it is hard to be a volunteer leader sometimes.  You have work and/or school to go to, a social life to keep up with, other personal stuff you have to deal with on a daily basis.  Then, you have  middle and high school youth, who are craving for all your attention calling, facebooking or texting at all times of the day.  It can be very challenging to juggle all these things – rewarding, but challenging.

Therefore, take time to appreciate what they do.  You could:

  • send them an encouraging handwritten note
  • treat them to gift cards from gas stations for all the extra gas they are using shuttling students around
  • buy them lunch to catch up and talk about life – not necessarily ministry life, but personal life as well.
  • gather them together for a leaders meeting. But instead of doing your leaders meeting, take them to laser tag and have fun together

These are just some of ways you can show them that you care about them and appreciate all they do. It is when you take these extra steps with leaders that they realize that they mean more to you than just what they can do in the mission field.

Overall, building a leadership team takes time and patience.  It will not happen overnight and you will likely have some hits and misses.  The key is to be persistent as you pray for leaders, look from within your own church or ministry and  appreciate them.


  1. Start looking for and identifying adults or former youth from within your own church or ministry to help serve as leaders.  Make a list and begin to contact them to see about their possible involvement.
  2. Write down a few ways you can appreciate the leaders you have.  Then go out and appreciate them!

Like it, hate it, post a comment to share other ways you can build a leadership team.


1 Comment

Filed under Leaders

One response to “3 Ways to build your Volunteer Leadership Team

  1. This week I have been reviewing my job description and praying through where we are on point with our youth ministries and where we need some serious help.

    Under the 4th point beneath the heading of duties and responsibilities under my job description is the following:

    Recruit and train youth leaders to assist by:
    a) Pursuing other mature, capable and responsible adults and interns to help minister to the youth
    b) Organizing volunteers to help with additional programs such as youth small groups, after school ministries, and service projects.

    I realize that this is the task that I have been falling very short of accomplishing. Prayer is essential as I re-align my focus, and seek the power, strength, and discernment to find and implement the right leaders for ministry here at Epiphany.

    We cannot go at it alone! This is so true and it’s not just true because it is a part of a job description.

    I like the idea of building a team from within and we have gained many of our Summer interns through this strategy. It is also so true that it is of equal importance to treat your team well after they come on board and to appreciate them and train them to do what God has called them to do.

    Thanks for a great post Tom!


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