Youth Ministry Help

Choosing the “Perfect” Volunteer


Choosing the “Perfect” Volunteer
Joel Williamson

We know we need volunteers…but what kind of person makes up a perfect volunteer? We want someone who is more than a warm body…someone who will really care and help build our group.  It would be great, wouldn’t it, if they were young and cool?  They must love Jesus. They are someone who can keep up with conversations about current rap artists while still being able to help a student wrestle with deep theology issues.  They are fun and active and connect to all types of kids.  We want a volunteer who can work hard and really pitch in – after all, ministry is demanding.

Is that the perfect volunteer?

Let me tell you about “Rodney.”

Rodney was a volunteer at Campus Life, a ministry of Youth for Christ, when I was in high school.

He was not young, and he was not “cool.”

He was older, a big guy, and not in the greatest of health — so he couldn’t play the active games with me and my friends.  He had a cleft lip which made him difficult to understand.  He did not know what kind of music I listened to and wouldn’t be able to talk to me and my friends about what was relevant in our culture.

But Rodney had two things going for him:

He loved Jesus.
He loved teenagers.

And even at age 15 or so, I knew these two things about Rodney.

And I knew he cared about me.

I had become a Christian at Campus Life in eighth grade.  Yet I would describe my high school years as walking on the edge of a dangerous cliff.  I would dance right up to the line of real sin and addiction…and then I would pull back.


In 2015, Harvard University put out a study showing, “children who do well despite serious hardship have had at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive adult.”

Think about what that says.

Not a young or relevant adult.
Not a active or hard-working adult.
Not the “perfect” adult.

Simply – a caring adult.

Rodney showed up at Campus Life every week.  My friends and I didn’t care that he was older or that he was awkward.  In fact, that was one of the things that we liked about him – he was different.

When I walked in the room, his eyes shown with delight when he greeted me by name.

For me, adults like Rodney kept me from falling off that edge. Sometimes it was close.

Knowing that they supported me, cared for me, and prayed for me gave me the strength I needed to always back away from the cliff and draw closer to God.

Sure, not everyone connected to Rodney, but some did.

And for those who did, it mattered.

Like it mattered to me.

So, when you consider who you should recruit to be on your youth ministry team, I encourage you not to keep your eyes on that “perfect” volunteer.

Perhaps, there is a Rodney just waiting to join your team and make an eternal difference in the lives of your youth.



Joel Williamson

Joel Williamson has been working with young people for two decades leading a non-profit reaching at-risk youth. He loves youth workers and is passionate about equipping them for effective, transformational ministry. Joel currently works as the Chief Strategist and CFO for Youth Core Ministries, serves on his church's youth team, and lives with his wife and daughter in Noblesville, IN.

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