I noticed something a couple of months ago that made Zakk and I just go “wow, that is awesome”. Every D-now, we take our band and speaker around to some of the different homes our students are staying in and let them meet our students and hang out. We usually get a lot of response from our students because of the “cool factor” of the band/speaker, etc., but this year and in some of the year’s past it was different. See, riding along with us this year was Tim, one of our faithful volunteers who has been serving in the youth ministry for a long time. He had moved away for a year for grad school and so the students haven’t seen him for a while. Every house we stopped at, they yelled, “Tim!”, and greeted him with a big hug and lots of questions. It wasn’t about the band, it wasn’t about me, they were so excited that one of our faithful, long-term volunteers was back. It was a beautiful and appropriate response to someone who has given of themselves to invest in the lives of our students.
There is definitely something to be said for longevity–especially in ministry. It has been amazing to have been a part of this student ministry for over 4 years, but that is just a drop in the bucket compared to some of our volunteers. There are countless stories I have where our students have responded in similar ways to our volunteers. They know youth minister’s come and go, but they know there is a core group of parents and leaders who are here to stay, year in and year out who love and care for them. That is why our students, every retreat, pick with, laugh with, and listen to Jimmy G, one of our longest serving youth volunteers. They know him, know that he is here to stay, and they love him.
I firmly believe that it is the longevity of our youth volunteers that has made all the difference in our student ministry. There are countless other volunteers I would love to be able to list on this post who have invested in and served our students faithfully over several years. You know who you are. You are a priceless treasure to this youth ministry, you are all so appreciated, and you are all making an eternal impact! Thank you all!