2 Benefits and 2 Challenges of Having Young Adult Volunteers

 

Who make the best volunteers? For the past couple weeks, I have written on different age groups and how likely they are to volunteer and what strategies work with those in that age bracket. So far in the series, I’ve taken a look at teenagers and college students as volunteers.

This week, I will explore young adults who are single and have begun their careers. However, some have not been able to land a job since graduating from college. Finding a job has been difficult since 2008 for students just graduating from college. However, young single professionals who are unemployed can often add tremendous value to your ministry program.

This age group is still very likely to volunteer for two reasons:

1. To meet new people. Their social circle has changed since graduating from college and often they are looking to build a new social circle. The church can be a perfect place for them to do that. Sometimes, that can mean looking for a boyfriend or a girlfriend. As the ministry leader, it is important to keep that in mind. It can work to your benefit, as well as have some pitfalls associated with it.

2. They have time. Even though they are starting a new career, they still have much time on their hands. They are not married, nor do they have kids. That means more freedom to pursue areas of interest. Volunteering is often one of those, since, like college students, they still want to make an impact in the world. If they are unemployed, volunteering can be a great way to fill gaps in their resume and helps them stay busy.

 

Even though they are likely to volunteer, having them on your team can be a challenge. This age group provides some unique difficulties.

1. Their commitments are often soft. What I mean is this: just because they say “yes” to committing to volunteering does not mean they always follow through. You’ve seen it on Facebook. Have you ever set up a Facebook event and invited this age group to attend? I have. Many times, they RSVP that they will attend. In the end, they do not show up. Their “yes” is soft.

The reason for this is simple: a better opportunity has come up that they wanted to take advantage of. A single young adult not showing up is usually not malicious. They really didn’t mean to leave you in a bind. With this age group, it is important to do the following:

  • Stress what commitment, follow-through, and leadership is all about.
  • Send reminder emails, Facebook posts, or text messages. I personally don’t like to send reminder emails. They are more work and take time. However, I have reconciled it in my mind that I will always have to do this if I expect them to show up.

2. One word: dating.It is a fact of life that the young adult life consists of dating and the search for a significant other. It’s normal and a good thing. However, as young adults volunteer for your ministry, the potential is high that they will end up dating other young adult volunteers. It is always great when young adults meet dating partners in church. There’s no better place to meet your future spouse (that’s where I met mine). However, be prepared to talk with the happy volunteer couple about appropriate dating boundaries. Here are some examples:

  • No inappropriate affectionate touch while volunteering.
  • Remind them of the churches moral teaching. It is quite common for young adults to have pre-marital sex and to co-habitate. You need to decide for yourself whether you want them to volunteer, especially with youth, if they are not following the moral teachings of the church. That needs to be your decision in conversation with your pastor or supervisor.
  • If they break up, one of them is likely to have to leave the volunteer ministry position. They should know this in advance because having an ex-couple volunteering for you can create great challenges, especially if it was a difficult break up.

Young adult singles make great volunteers and are often the largest age group to volunteer. Take advantage of this age group as a time to help them stay connected to the church, especially since this group is often a group that moves away from church.

Question: What is one benefit of young adults volunteering in your ministry?

John Rinaldo

As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.


John Rinaldo


As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.



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