Volunteers, Communication & Taking Risks – Alan Smith

mjgoodrow Podcast

Joining Brian for this episode of Multiply! is Alan Smith. Alan is a Campus Pastor at Greystone Church in Athens, GA. He is the author of Let’s Go! Creating and Sustaining a Thriving Student Ministry. He has some real practical thoughts on volunteer leaders, communicating with parents and taking risk in ministry.

Three of the topics addressed in Alan Smith and Allison Smith’s book, Let’s Go!: Creating and Sustaining a Thriving Student Ministry.


Q: What has been helpful for you in gaining volunteers, and what do you do to keep them involved in your ministry?

I understood that I needed volunteers and could not do it on my own. Pray and ask God for the right volunteers. Ask anyone you think would be a good leader. Keep an eye out for people, because they will not always come to you. Then after they are plugged in, take care of them. Write thank you notes, provide food, or recognize them from the stage, anything to make them feel appreciated. They are doing ministry, not just helping.

While directly asking people to volunteer is usually best, you can make a blanket plea from the pulpit. It is usually a last-ditch effort or a way to find some new people you do not know. However, if you are going to make a blanket plea, be prepared to tell someone upfront if they would not be a good fit.

Invest and develop these volunteers so they could be a student’s youth pastor. Ministry is not all about you as the youth pastor. You do not have the emotional and relational space. Develop leaders with you. Make a big deal about them in front of your students and connect your leaders with your students. Challenge your volunteers to step up, champion them, grow them and train them.


You are basically working in customer service in the aspect of communication. – Let’s Go!

It is our job to make sure parents understand what is going on. Aside from being busy, parents are also at different places with using social media and other communication platforms. Communicate through numerous ways, which becomes easier once you have developed a system.

The whole point of youth ministry is to help parents disciple their kids. Bend over backwards to help them get the information.

Taking Risks:

We get comfortable and can forget to take risks, which means we may miss an opportunity for growth, or possibly the chance for someone to hear the gospel for the first time.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretsky

Q: What are some of the things that have held you back from taking risks over the years?

A: Worry – What is going to happen? Will it ruin what I have? The risks get bigger and bigger. What if kids don’t enjoy it and stop being involved?

Laziness – Events can require a lot of clean up. What if we break something?

Pride – What will other people think? Do not let the dreams of what you want to do be squashed by pride.

Q: Do you ever have to say “no” to a youth minister that is not afraid to take risks?

A: Often. Just like Andy Stanley says, I try to say “Wow” and not “How.” Develop trust and help them see the process.

Q: Do you have an example of a risk that was worth it?

A: Our staff member, Daniel, wanted to do a night of worship. I did not think it sounded fun enough to attract students. However, we built some trust during our first year of working together, so we could talk through it when he came with new ideas. The night of worship became his biggest event and 30 kids accepted Christ. He is planning another one next season.

Closing Thoughts:

Writing a book does not mean we have it all together. We still make mistakes and need to push ourselves to take risks. Our book is just what we wish we would have known when we started in ministry.


Alan Smith on Social Media:

Instagram – alansmith633

Twitter – alansmith633


Get the book, Let’s Go!: Creating and Sustaining a Thriving Student Ministry on Amazon.