Is it really lack of motivation?
The first question you have to ask yourself is if the issue really is a lack of motivation, or if there are other problems. In my experience, lack of time is often the biggest cause for volunteers to not be interested in training. It doesn’t mean they’re not motivated, it means they have no time for the training. And who can blame them when they’re trying to fit in their family, jobs and their youth ministry related activities into their schedule.
The solution is to try and find ways of training that do fit into their schedule. Discuss it with them and really try and accommodate them whenever possible. Here are some ideas:
- Make a video or podcast of the training and have it delivered to those that couldn’t make it.
- Schedule a training session an hour before a youth ministry activity they would attend anyway, so it doesn’t cost them an extra night.
- Combine training with the regular meetings you have anyway.
- Take it online, post a video on YouTube for instance, ask people to view it when possible and then discuss it in your Facebook group.
- Plan a whole training weekend where you cram everything into two days. Sometimes this works better because it’s a one-time thing and not something that people have to schedule in regularly. You’d still have to do follow-up training during the season, but that could be done using distance-learning methods.
- Organize training on Saturdays and arrange for some teens to babysit so parents can bring their kids. The kids will have a blast playing together and the parents will have their hands free to attend the training.
- Use technology so you can ‘meet’ for training without leaving the house, for instance via Skype or a Google hangout. Be creative!
Training to motivate
A second important aspect of lack of training is the quality of the training itself. Are your trainings valuable, fun, something volunteers don’t want to miss? Or are they okay-ish, kinda good to see everyone, but other than that not much news?
If you want your volunteers to be motivated for training, you have to deliver quality youth ministry training. It’s not just about dumping info, it’s about inspiring. It’s not about passive knowledge, it’s about the tools to change lives for eternity. Youth ministry training is of crucial importance, because there’s so much at stake…but does the content and quality of your training reflect that?
Nobody is constant motivated to do youth ministry, we all have days, weeks and even seasons when we’re tired. We’ve temporarily lost that ‘loving feeling’ so to speak. If you see (some of) your volunteers are in that stage, make it your goal to inspire them again.
Here are some ideas to re-motivate your volunteers for youth ministry in general and for training in particular:
- Stories: there’s nothing that motivates and inspires more than good stories. Share stories about successes in your youth ministry, but maybe even more about the needs among young people. Make the spiritual needs of young people personal to your volunteers by telling real-life stories. Don’t say ‘bullying is a real problem’ for instance, but share the heart breaking story of Jamey Rodemeyer, who committed suicide because he was bullied.
- Big picture: sometimes we get so bogged down in the task we’re doing in youth ministry, we lose sight of the bigger picture. Help your volunteers see the bigger picture. Keep explaining the why of youth ministry, the why of your mission and vision. For me, reading a book like Generation iY helps to focus on the bigger picture, a whole generation of young people who desperately need our help.
- Attention: youth ministry volunteers don’t get paid for what they do and most of them wouldn’t even want to. But they do want to be seen, heard, recognized. So be sure to give your volunteers attention, no matter how busy you are. Spend time with them, share a meal together, have fun together.
- Involvement: Asking them for their preferences in the timing, the methods, etc of your training program will make your volunteers feel they have a say in it. People are way more committed to and motivated for something they’ve helped create. And where ever possible, involve them in the actual training itself.
- Focus on strengths: people will be exceptionally motivated for a (advanced) training in an area they’re good in. Do you have people with strengths in certain aspects of youth ministry, like teaching, pastoral care or organizing? Invest in them by giving them the opportunity for further growth. It will motivate them and benefit your youth ministry!
- Time off: sometimes the best way to motivate your volunteers for youth ministry and for training is to give them time off. Have someone take over their small group once or twice. Offer babysitting and have them go out for dinner. Organize some youth to mow the lawn, wash their car and do groceries so they can have a day of rest. Help them re-energize so they have room in their lives and minds for serving others again. Nobody can run on an empty tank!
Are your volunteers motivated to receive youth ministry training? What do you do to motivate them?[Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons]