As our young adult ministries grow, we become more reliant on those around us to maintain it. Otherwise, not only will its growth be limited, but you run the risk of burnout. The last thing any of us wants is for our ministry to become a tiresome burden rather than a life-giving mission.
Here are five tips for finding, recruiting, and training the right team members so you stay dedicated to the big picture.
What your ministry can accomplish is limited depending on its size and influence. The trick is not to take on more than you can handle, but to do the best you can do with what you have right now.
When you start out, you can do relatively little in the grand scheme of converting souls, affecting your parish, or hosting large events, but you have the luxury of managing every aspect of your ministry exactly how you like it. The "lone leader with initiative" is a very efficient model for smaller ministries getting off the ground.
The reality is, however, that as your group grows there is more demanded from the leadership. And you—all by your lonesome—just won't cut it anymore.
Well...technically I suppose you can...but your ministry can't reach its full potential without a proper team of trained individuals who are dedicated to the mission.
You can lengthen the time you have to recruit a solid team by finding a highly committed partner. At CatholicYoungAdultGroups.org, we recommend finding a partner as the critical first step.
First, make a written list of everything you do to keep the ministry running day-to-day. Include monthly or yearly tasks as an exercise in knowing the big picture. This will give you an idea of the regular, smaller tasks you'll eventually delegate.
Include the average time weekly you spend on the task so you have a clear idea of the "job description" when you ask someone for help. For example:
Discussion Preparation - 3 hours/week
Meeting Set-up - 30 minutes/week
Social Media Posts - 1 hour/week.
Next, take note of individuals who express the most devotion to your ministry. Think of people who exhibit participation more than others, regularly attend, or explicitly ask you, "How can I help?"
Don't be afraid to ask the whole group if anyone is interested in helping in some way. Sometimes people don't realize that the opportunity exists.
Get to know these people on a more personal basis to get a feel for their skills and talents.
Note their occupation, hobbies, communication skills, etc. This will come in handy when you decide which tasks to invite them to take on.
2. How Many People Do I Need?
This depends on your particular group's needs and your management style. Look at your list of tasks and ask yourself how many people it would take to spread the workload.
If you are reliant upon volunteers, expect to recruit more volunteers to do a job that one paid person could handle on their own. I'd say it's a ratio of two volunteers to one paid (or highly committed) individual.
Remember that volunteers give from their extra time out of devotion to the ministry and the trust they have in your leadership. Give them as much support as you can to help them balance their other obligations, such as school, work, and family commitments.
3. The Approach
Once you've decided who you want to be on your leadership team, you need to pitch the job to them. Speak from your heart. Your devotion to the ministry will come through in your voice, but make sure you keep it as an offer and not a requirement. Too much zeal—and I can tell you this from personal experience—may come across as intimidating or demanding and turn some people away.
Stress things like the opportunity to store treasures in heaven, or that it will give them a voice in the ministry and the direction it can go.
Critically, be clear and precise in your ask. Use your list from earlier and ask for help with a specific task. People do want to help, but often they don't want or know how to manage themselves. A vague request can leave someone wondering how much time you are asking for or what they're actually supposed to do, and often results in inaction.
Regardless of whether someone accepts your invitation, try to make them feel complimented by the consideration, rather than pressured or feeling like they let you down if they decline.
4. Your New Team and Where You Fit Among Them
Once someone joins the team, check in often to see how things are going (and to ensure the task is actually getting done). It's your job to help them do their job. This means training your team until they can handle the day-to-day tasks without any hand-holding on your part.
This training takes time, but it is an investment that will pay dividends in the long run.
The process of building a team is ongoing. It will depend on what you want to accomplish with the group, your leadership style, the natural turnover of people's availability, and so on.
Now that you've built a team for the day-to-day tasks of your ministry, you might ask "What's is left for me to do?"
I am of the opinion that the main leader of the group should focus on the big picture of the ministry. This can include organizing large-scale events, collaborative endeavors with other ministries, fundraising, long-term marketing, diocesan relations, and in some cases managing service projects.
If those tasks are a little advanced for your ministry at the moment, don't worry. First and foremost you are responsible for the day-to-day operations of your ministry. Your primary objective is to plan and direct those to whom you've delegated tasks, make group decisions as a final authority, and control the ultimate direction the ministry is going. Your job can be as big or small as you want it to be. This is your ministry after all.
5. Team cohesion
Now that you have a well-trained team of trusted individuals, it's important to have semi-regular status meetings. They should be a place where thoughts are spoken freely, ideas are welcome, and any issues can be addressed.
It's an opportunity for you as the leader to get feedback on the direction you intend to take the ministry, stay in touch with your leaders, and keep everything running smoothly.
I've found it's often helpful to combine the "formal meeting" with a social gathering, such as a cookout in a park or a bonfire at someone's house. This keeps things from feeling too "business-y"—or worse, boring—and gives everyone a fun reason to show up.
In the case of a smaller ministry, you probably already know what's going. The main goal of meeting is to be connected with your team and how they're doing. Their mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing is important because it directly effects the ministry (not to mention charity for them as human beings).
If you try these tips I promise you will have more time to devote to big picture of your ministry, avoid burnout, and stay balanced with the other important areas of your life that need your time and energy.
Additionally, this list isn't exhaustive, and I'm willing to take suggestions and stories about your experience when it comes to delegation.
Feel free to let me know your thoughts via our contact page.