How to Recruit Small Group Leaders

A picture of our Leader Info Cards (for recruiting) and popcorn bag invites to
our Small Group Leader's Meeting 
We have a huge youth group.  An essential ingredient to making a large youth group feel small and in helping students to connect with each other and with caring adults in their lives are small groups. Life change often happens best through small groups. I''ve seen it. I believe it.

So, how do you find leaders when you have 13 middle school small groups meeting midweek?  How do you staff that many groups with at least 2 adults in each group?
I am often faced with the challenge of finding not only enough, but also the right leaders to commit to running a small group and shepherding students. Not every volunteer leader is a great fit for middle school ministry. Where do you begin?

Here are a few tips on how we do that here:

I keep leader info cards on my desk to pray for during the week.
I put them in "Birthday order" so I can remember leader Birthdays. 
1) I contact all of last year's small group leaders and others who may have taken a break last year due to work or school.  First, I accomplish this by sending them a letter telling them about small groups, I include something fun such as popcorn. On the bag of popcorn is a label inviting them to POP IN to our leader training. With the letter and popcorn, I send a blank info card and a self-addressed stamped envelope for each person to mail back to me. Here is a copy of that card for you to see. It's important to add postage. You will yield much better results. Second, after these are mailed out, I send a follow-up email reminder to our staff list. After the email reminder which reminds them to A) Send me back the card! and B) Remind them about the leader meeting AGAIN.

2) After all of the above...comes the most important and sometimes most uncomfortable step...CALL EVERYONE! Follow up with every leader via a phone call to see if  they plan on being a small group leader again. Call anyone who took a break last year who might want to return this year (if they were leaders you want to have again!).

3) Pray for God to bring to mind adults in your church who might be potential leaders. Soon you will begin to notice a lot more people who you can ask. You will start "having eyes to see" adults at church who are great with middle schoolers. I can think of a young mom I met at the church nursery who seems awesome with jr. highers and a fun dad I observed in the hall way who was goofing around with his own middle school kid and a another youth group kid. I sent them all letters inviting them (with popcorn) to our small group leader meeting and wrote a personal note telling them we are looking for more leaders. I follow up with an eyeball to eyeball conversation. Trust me, if anyone seems like a potential small group leader I will be asking them!

4) Keep your eyes open for other opportunities in your community. I have the enormous blessing of being in VERY close proximity to a Christian College. For right now we share the same campus.  I have an unfair advantage of being extremely "in the loop" on how to get amazing volunteers from a Christian College.This email just arrived in my inbox inviting our youth ministry to come to the college and recruit volunteers. Make sure you are on such an email list if you have a Christian College within driving distance. Even if it's in commuter distance, there just may be Christian College students who commute from your neighborhood and need a church to serve in.

5) ASK for names. The church I served at for 8 years previous to this one was much smaller, and I needed more volunteers to help in the youth ministry. I didn't have a bunch of paid youth staff on my team like I do now at my current church. The Sr. Pastor was a great resource. I asked him for names of people he thought would be great volunteers in the youth ministry. He gave me some names, and it gave me a place to begin. He knew the families and congregation much better than I did when I first got there and it was a big help. Currently my youth staff (the paid ones and the volunteer ones) are a good place for me to "fish" for names of other people who might like to serve in youth ministry. Especially the college students. They often have friends who want to come and serve with their friends. The older adult volunteers also have friends and adult small groups filled with more potential youth volunteers. Just ask around and see if anything sticks. You might find your next small group leaders from the ones you already have.

These are just a few ideas!


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