This past week, we concluded one season of faith formation and youth ministry and began transitioning into summer mode. While summer primarily involves camps, mission trips, and various activities, it also presents an excellent opportunity for preparing our team for the upcoming fall.
Apart from recruiting and onboarding new volunteers, we aim to ensure that all volunteers remain connected. To do that we focus on developing a strategy that gets them ready by:
GETTING FEEDBACK BEFORE GOING FORWARD
Before diving headfirst into your planning process, it's crucial to prioritize connecting with your team and gathering their valuable feedback on the past season. These feedback sessions serve as an opportunity to:
Set Them Up For Success: Ask your team about the resources and instructions provided to them. Don't shy away from inquiring about any challenges they faced or areas that may have been unclear.
Focus Them On The Vision: Determine whether your volunteers merely completed tasks or if they felt a sense of purpose within something greater. Pose questions about their enjoyable experiences and instances of witnessing personal growth or life change.
Connect Them Into Community: Volunteer retention increases when individuals genuinely love what they do and feel connected to a larger community. Alongside discussing their relationships with children and families, inquire about their connections with fellow leaders.
Collecting this valuable information will empower you to proactively allocate resources and enhance communication within your team. If you have concerns about receiving honest feedback, consider enlisting a coworker or another volunteer to conduct the feedback sessions on your behalf.
PUTTING TOGETHER A TRAINING CALENDAR
Developing a comprehensive formation plan for your leaders is crucial. Simply providing them with a workbook or directing them to an online training platform is insufficient. When assembling your team, it is essential to schedule dedicated times for gathering together to explore specific topics and collaboratively delve into them.
In-person training sessions not only foster a sense of community but also offer a valuable opportunity for your team to pause, reflect, and gain perspective on their work. The content of your training should be influenced by:
- Feedback obtained from evaluation meetings.
- Emerging trends that impact ministry practices, such as new technologies.
- The personal relationship of your team members with Jesus Christ and the Church.
- The specific mission field surrounding your parish.
- The effectiveness of teamwork within your group.
Commence some of the training during the summer to facilitate connections between new volunteers and seasoned veterans. Focus on foundational aspects during the summer and gradually delve deeper throughout the year.
Ensure that your team experiences continual growth in spiritual, intellectual, pastoral, and interpersonal aspects. Mark the training dates on the calendar well in advance, ensuring your team is aware of the purpose and importance of each meeting. Emphasize the significance of their attendance.
PLANNING THE BEST KICKOFF POSSIBLE
Organizing a kickoff for your programs holds significant value, not only for parents enrolling their children but also for your volunteers as they prepare for the upcoming season. Some team members may feel anxious or nervous, and a kickoff event can alleviate their fears and reinforce their commitment to the cause.
A kickoff doesn't necessarily have to be a grand event. While planning a celebration with games and food is enjoyable, it may not always be feasible due to budget or time constraints. Instead, consider alternative options such as a packet pickup, where volunteers can collect their supplies along with some exciting swag. Another idea is to invite the team to a designated evening for praying together over the ministry space they will be utilizing.
Regardless of the approach you choose for the volunteer kickoff, it's essential to use this opportunity to generate excitement and enthusiasm among your team members. When your volunteers are genuinely enthusiastic about the upcoming year, parents, teenagers, and children will naturally catch on to the positive energy.
CHECKING IN FREQUENTLY
Even if formal training sessions are not scheduled during the summer, it is crucial to connect with as many team members as possible through regular check-ins. You can invite them for a casual meal, a cup of coffee, or engage in conversations after Mass. Inquire about their summer experiences and ask what they are looking forward to in the upcoming fall.
These check-ins serve as an opportunity to invest in building relationships with your team. Your availability and accessibility are vital in establishing trust. When your team knows that you genuinely care about them, they will be more motivated to contribute to your collective success.
Undeniably, accomplishing these tasks may not be easy, as summers can often be busier than the rest of the year. However, from personal experience, I have found that when I have taken the time to check in with volunteers, gather feedback, and plan ahead, we have witnessed some of our most successful seasons of ministry.
Do not forget the individuals who played a significant role in creating an incredible year of ministry. Whether it's a single person or an entire community, ensure they are prepared for the fall, enabling them to continue walking alongside you for years to come.
How can you ensure a successful and impactful upcoming season in faith formation and youth ministry by prioritizing feedback, comprehensive training, engaging kickoff events, and regular check-ins with your team?