Empowering Student Volunteers

superheroLast week I posted about the value of Student Volunteers and how we can create environment that helps them stick.  One of the posts generated an excellent comment by Scott Kinney at Seacoast Church.  This guy doesn’t blog (to my knowledge) but he should be.  Maybe I can talk him into a guest here sometime?

Anyway… here is Scott’s comment…

We treat middle school and high school students as if they were adult volunteers. They go through the orientation process, shadow along side a current volunteer, then when they are ready we give them their own small group or area of ministry to lead. We also have a program called Nerve2Serve here at Seacoast that teaches 3rd – 5th graders the importance of serving in the Church, in the Community and in the World. I have seen over time that kids who start out fully commited to serving when they are in elementary school have turned into some of our best volunteers in high school.

This single comment is chalk-full of great guidance for kidmin leaders when it comes to empowering Student Volunteers.  

We can all agree that when students are challenged, they can rise to the occasion.  

So, how do we create an environment that challenges students?

Scott mentions three things that clearly communicate to Student Volunteers that they have something to offer.

Orientation
Scott takes all his students through an orientation process just like adult volunteers. This is smart because it gives the Student equal opportunity to hear the vision and direction of the ministry.  Students have something to offer toward the vision. Inspiring them with the vision only helps them more.

Mentoring
Pairing Student Volunteers with qualified volunteers helps them to learn the ropes and understand how to do their role.  In fpKIDS, our most successful Students are the one’s that work with great volunteers that give them meaningful tasks. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished here.  However, I’m challenged by Scott’s comments to bring more students in as elementary Small Group leaders.  If we do this, we have to have a better system for mentoring to ensure we don’t place the student in a no-win situation.

On-Ramp
I LOVE Scott’s on-ramp to serving, Nerve2Serve.  And I’m totally stealing it.

The idea of fostering an attitude that serving is an aspect of worship and is just as expected as attending a worship service or spending time in the Word. It’s just smart. This is going on my ‘must-do’ list for 2014.  Thanks Scott!

Here is where I want to foster growth in my Student Volunteer team in 2014.

Equipping
What practical ‘tools’ do Student Volunteers need? Because of their lack of experience, most Student Volunteers that I know are not experts in managing a gaggle of kids. Some things are simply learned through parenting experience. And these guys are parents… yet. So what unique training opportunities (outside of mentoring) can I give them to help them learn these room management skills?

Community
I believe that Students should be equally involved in appreciation & training events alongside every other person that volunteers in kidmin.  However, I also think there is value in creating community within the group of Students that serve.  Does that mean hosting an annual event that appeals to our Student volunteers?  Possibly.

What about you?  How do you empower Student Volunteers to serve in kidmin? What on-ramps have you created to bring students onto your team?