The Definitive List of Volunteer Expectations

Adult Volunteers!!  We need ’em!

For any student ministry to be effective having dedicated and quality adult volunteers is essential.  They are there when a youth pastor begins at a student ministry and they are there when the youth pastor leaves.  Adult volunteers or leaders are the backbone of any successful youth ministry. Here’s almost everything you need to know about their roles and expectations…

I call them Youth Leaders

A youth pastor’s capacity to grow, develop and retain fruitful and effective relationships with his/her adult volunteers may decide the degree of success he/she has in that student ministry. I‘ve called the volunteers I have worked with “youth leaders”, and that describes them exactly because they really do lead the youth.

Over the years I‘ve been blessed in each student ministry to have quality adult leaders who were a privilege to serve beside. You can tell a lot about a ministry by how the volunteers reach out and interact with students.

However, finding volunteers can be a challenge at times.  It is important for any student ministry to have clear guidelines and expectations for its volunteers.  Here’s a list of some of the guidelines and expectations for adult volunteers that I’ve used over the years.

Who are adult leaders?

1)  They are adults who have a desire to work with students to see them live a committed Christian life.

2)  They are adults who, by words and actions, demonstrate to students what it means to live for Christ.

What’s their role?

1)  Be a positive influence in a student’s life – leaders need to show by example how a Christian is to live their life

2)  They are a friend – students are looking for a friend, not just another adult telling them what to do and what not to do

3)  They are available to listen to any youth when needed – most students just want someone to sit and listen to them and not judge them

4)  They help with the set up and running of programs – be a help to the youth ministry and once again be an example to the youth

5) They pray for the youth – have the students on your heart and in your prayers daily

16 Expectations for adult leaders.

  1. Must be a believer with evidence of a growing faith in Christ.
  2. To provide a positive example to the students of the youth ministry, through personal lifestyle and commitment to Christ.
  3. Demonstrate care and concern for the students and the families.
  4. To be faithful to the youth ministry and attend youth events.
  5. Be willing to be involved in the lives of the students.
  6. Be available for scheduled adult leader meetings.
  7. Sit among the students during youth events.
  8. Be sensitive to the needs to the students and assist in meeting those needs when possible.
  9. Pray and intercede for the students and their needs.
  10. Contact the youth pastor if unable to make any meetings or events.
  11. Be a regular attendee and committed to the ministry of the local church.
  12. Demonstrate friendship to the students and enjoy being around them – If you don’t like being around teens they are going to see it. Be interested in their lives.
  13. Know what your abilities, talents, and gifts are – don’t try to be someone that you aren’t, use the abilities, and talents that God has given you
  14. Be committed to the youth, and the youth ministry.
  15. Be teachable – be open and willing to learn new things and new ways of doing ministry
  16. Demonstrate a Servant’s Heart – Jesus said, “the Son did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matt 20:28). An adult leader should never be above cleaning up tables, trash, etc.


10 Adult Leader Guidelines

  1. Any verbal or nonverbal sexual behaviour with any student is inappropriate and forbidden.
  2. Dating a student in the ministry is forbidden.

3.Discretion must be used in dealing with all students, especially regarding physical contact. Innocent behaviour can be misinterpreted. A hug around the shoulders is not sexual abuse, but a full body-to-body hug, stroking, massaging or an affectionate kiss raises questions.

  1. Sexual gestures or overtures to an adult volunteer by a student should be reported to the Youth Pastor so that a discussion can be held with the student.
  2. Buddy systems needs be used by volunteers whenever possible, especially when working with students of the opposite sex.
  3. One-to-one with a student should always occur in a public place.
  4. Driving alone with a student of the opposite sex is forbidden.
  5. Romantic or sexual attraction for a student by a leader should be brought up and discussed with the Youth Pastor.
  6. All suspicions of child or sexual abuse must be reported to the Youth pastor who will report it to the proper authorities.
  7. Any knowledge or suspicion of any youth ministry staff having an inappropriate relationship with a student must be reported promptly to the Youth Pastor.

One area I haven’t listed in social media guidelines, with the rise of social media in the past decade this in an increasingly important area.  I will have some suggestions in part 2.

If you have any other suggestions I would love to hear them!




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Matt is the Director of the Youth Ministry Institute at Vanguard College. He has over 20 years of student ministry experience all over the country. He has 3 kids. His 2 girls are in their teen years so he has lots of opportunity to put his student ministry years to good use at home everyday. He's completing a Masters in Adolescent and Family Counseling.