How To Volunteer Like A Pro | Notes & Review

Posted on January 24, 2009


Jim Hancock. How To Volunteer Like A Pro: An Amateur’s Guide for Working with Teenagers. Youth Specialties, 2009. (143 pages)


The handbook I’m writing for our youth ministry continually gets longer because there are just so many things that need to be included. Thankfully, now I can pare it down to the basics and fundamentals of our particular ministry setting and supplement it with this guide/handbook. As with other books like this one, the chapters are quick and easy to read, practical, without a lot of “filler” material. That makes this resource immediately accessible and effective.

Jim Hancock, a paid youth ministry veteran, wrote this after leaving “vocational” ministry to become a volunteer, a uniquely reverse journey from the general norm. I believe this gave Hancock a very helpful perspective for the writing of this book. At the least, it reminded me to think empathetically towards those I wish to lead, a valuable reminder for any leader.

The contents include a wide variety of issues. My favorites are:

Amateurs, defining this term as those who “love” to do what they do.
Three Essentials for Building Relationships, helping us simplify the complexities of social interaction between generations.
The Three Best Questions I Know, guiding us towards open-ended questions, rather than closed-ended “yes” or “no” conversations.
Incarnation: Being There, summing up the whole of the theology on three pages for work with youth.
The Mountaintop & The Letdown, giving practical advice for the camp experience.
Who’s the Boss? Leading While Following, which outlines six elements that the lead person appreciates greatly in a volunteer.
Youth Group Kids or Disciples?, a clarion call that this isn’t all just fun and games; that we can believe in our students NOW.
Working with Kids (Instead of On Them), providing a critical paradigm for ministry.
Amateurs & Professionals: A Last Word, which is a six paragraph manifesto on why volunteerism is critically valuable to the work of the church and for the sake of society.

37 chapters in all, the others chapters include information on organizational management in the context of youth ministry, how to protect oneself (and the youth) from the complexities of attraction and inappropriate behavior, how to deal with a variety of kids with different personalities, how to deal with families/parents, and how to engage with youth culture, appropriately.

The clarity and concision of this book is fantastic, and I commend it to you who endeavor in the most exhilarating work on the planet, … working with youth.