Culture -

The 4 secrets to keep volunteers coming back —

By Becca Haines

Paul and Melissa Cavenaile – along with their children Ethan, 14; Olivia, 11; and Abigail “Abi,” 8 – travel from Juliet, Illinois every year to serve at the Believe event in Holland, Michigan.

They have done this every year for more than a decade. Their story is incredible, and they’ve shared four ways that you can love volunteers and keep them coming back.


1. Accept and Welcome. Since day one, Paul said the Believe team greeted him with open arms – which Paul said was surprising since he had no experience in event production.


“The way CIY welcomed us as volunteers was a breath of fresh air,” he said. “It wasn’t just ‘Hold this’ or ‘OK, now don’t touch anything.’ They weren’t afraid to give us tasks that were meaningful, or handle things that you know have to be costly. There was a trust and respect, and deep appreciation for our willingness to help.”


2. Empower. God has uniquely created each of us with special gifts, talents and abilities that He wants us to use for His Kingdom. Paul and his son Ethan immediately enjoyed helping set up and tear down the Believe stage and helping with other production tasks. Melissa and the girls, Olivia and Abi, have enjoyed helping and meeting students at the merchandise table. In these different roles over the years, this Kingdom worker family of four has thrived.


“I had to be patient with whatever season I was in and understand there were times when I couldn’t lift heavy things or be on my feet the entire time,” Melissa said. “I set my mind to it and that was my ministry. Serving with kids looks different but we never lost sight of what youth leaders could do at this conference. The meaningful moments, conversations on relevant topics and new level of worship – once we started it was something we couldn’t imagine NOT serving.”


3. Connect. Serving and volunteering is 10 times more fun when you’re with friends! At the age of 8, Abi doesn’t struggle to make new friends, but Paul said she found a great connection to another worker named Abi last year – just a little example of the relationships built every year from the Believe weekend. As someone the same age as the students in the crowd, Ethan said he enjoys being a part of the event.


“It was cool watching the backstage people, the light and sound boards, and then in just a short time it was all taken down to go to the next conference,” Ethan said. “It makes me feel honored to help with something that helps kids my age connect to the Father. I feel the same amazement, and a stronger relationship with everyone – my family, friends at CIY and God.”


4. Answer. Paul said his love for the CIY ministry started when he was a high school student attending summer conference (today’s MOVE) and it hasn’t changed because there have always been people there to answer questions. Volunteers tend to ask a lot of questions, but Paul said one of the best ways he and his family feel loved by the Believe team is by the freedom and welcoming atmosphere. It has always been understood that the first and most important question Kingdom workers answer is God’s call to serve.


“I would encourage volunteers to find their gift, and for youth leaders to nurture it,” Paul said. “You don’t have to be a great speaker, a leader of a ministry team, musician or singer. There are many forms of service that aren't in the spotlight. If you’re like me, someone who just loves to help people and likes to learn new things, find ways to use those traits for the Lord. Look to Proverbs 3:27 to guide your family to serve others.”


“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.”