Build a Strong Youth Ministry Team
Most people would prefer to play a role on a solid, fun, relational team than be on a dysfunctional, conflict-filled, self-absorbed team. That’s a no-brainer! But, great teams are difficult to build.
Healthy youth ministry teams are not only effective at reaching and discipling students, but they also have a strong sense of community among the leaders. This week, we will share some ideas for creating community with other adult leaders so you can work to strengthen your own ministry:
Yeah, we know, no one likes meetings (except for the person who’s planning the meeting). The main reason for this is because most meetings aren’t worth going to and the information shared could have been downloaded online. Take this as a challenge to figure out how to create better meetings so stronger community can be developed. Don’t use the excuse (“people hate meetings”) to delete face-to-face gatherings. How often should you meet? That’s for you to decide. Through our many years in youth ministry, we’ve tried everything: weekly meetings before a weekly program, monthly meetings, and quarterly meetings. Pick something and stick to it for a season. The key to building momentum is to pick a meeting strategy and stick with it for a consistent amount of time. If you don’t gather together, it’s pretty difficult to create a bonding team.
Make Time for Small Talk
We written about this in terms of hanging with teenagers and said that some of the best youth ministry with students happens in the 15 minutes before and after a program. This same truth can apply with your leadership team. When you gather together, don’t fill every minute with an overwhelming agenda. Sure, you have a lot to cover, but if your people aren’t connecting, your information won’t help the ministry that much. Build community by letting your leaders mix, mingle and make small talk. At first, it may be good to give a little direction to trigger the conversations, but after a while they will happen naturally.
Keep Your Meeting Agendas Minimal
It is important to have an agenda for your leadership meetings. Your leaders lead busy lives, and many of them won’t to add another “thing” unless it adds value to their life and ministry. A thought-out agenda can communicate the significance you have for your time together. People want to know that you’re not “winging-it” and that you care deeply about their sacrifice of time.
Ministry training is very important, but we would encourage the primary leader to limit his/her lecture time and increase the amount of group interaction. The best training will happen “on the job,” and having more time to talk about it (with others who are facing the same situations) will make the lecture/lessons more memorable.
When you meet, make it a habit to focus on the good things that God is doing in your ministry. Stop and celebrate successes. When a leader has served for a year, celebrate their “longevity”! When a teenager is baptized, have his/her small group leader share the story and celebrate that spiritual decision! When you go a month without the executive pastor complaining about the youth ministry, celebrate loudly—actually, throw a party (just don’t spill anything so he’ll have nothing to complain about)!
The goal is to make sure that every time you gather you take the time to find something worth celebrating. It will be tempting for the negative people to begin the meeting talking about “what isn’t going well” but don’t allow that to happen. Complaints can dominate your time, instead go after those complaints one-on-one after the meeting (pretending they don’t exist will only hurt you’re your leadership and ministry). Eventually, an attitude of celebration will trickle down to all your leaders and result in mutual encouragement and will reinforce the values for your youth ministry.
Some of greatest connecting moments in our leadership meetings have followed on the heels of a very simple question: “What’s been going good? Where have you sensed God moving in your ministry?” If you have a leadership team of more than three people, it’s possible to quickly feel disconnected from others. It’s easy to get caught up in life and work and ministry and not stop long enough to have God-sightings. A fast-pace is the enemy of building community. Sharing stories connects a team by drawing others into a shared experience.
It’s important to take some time to worship together when you meet with your team. This time will serve to focus your hearts on what matters most and remind your leaders that worshipping God is more important than doing the work of God. Your team meetings don’t need to replace your normal church worship service, (just like your leadership community isn’t a church within your church), but it can become an important time to do something significant within a sacred community.
Share Solutions and Support
It’s a dangerous myth to think and act as if the point person ought to have all the answers to the issues revolving around your youth ministry. This type of leadership will severely limit a ministry. Actually, it’s our observation that it’s the number one fatal flaw appearing in unhealthy ministries. Build your team by creating “space” for everyone to be able to help one another. Brainstorm solutions together, ask for feedback, and appeal to and rely on the wisdom of others. If the leader of a ministry has to care for everyone on the team, it’ll be a small team because one person can only care for a few people.
Have Fun Together
There are times when the best thing for a youth ministry team is to simply play together. Eat food together, watch the Super Bowl or Grammies or Emmys (or any “important” yearly show) together, play a game of softball or bunko, or if you’ve got some nerdy types on your team (like Matt), play some video games together. Your ministry doesn’t exist for everyone to be entertained, but some timely fun can strengthen a team’s bond. Laughter and play are good for developing a healthy leadership community.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”
This article “Build a Strong Youth Ministry Team” by Doug Fields was excerpted from: www.youthministry.com web site. February 2011. It may be used for study & research purposes only.