Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Five years ago, the youth ministry of the church where I am currently serving was run almost entirely by adult volunteers and lay leaders. Their leadership was, and still is, extremely impressive. But over time, we have shifted to a more staff driven ministry. I, along with a coordinator of youth ministry, oversee the day to day functions of the youth ministry.
As we begin to plan for the upcoming school year, it occurs to me how important it is to have committed adult volunteers and leaders. Somehow there needs to be a balance between staff driven and lay driven ministry. The advantage to staff driven ministry is that you are able to control how and when events unfold. The disadvantage arises out of the same scenario—YOU are overseeing events. Whenever youth ministry begins to focus more on staff and less on volunteers I think there is a need to reflect on how ministry is taking place.
Everyone leads such hectic and busy lives (this is another topic in itself). But what can we do to purposefully engage our adult volunteers and leaders? Here are just a few thoughts:
1) This year, in early August, we plan to have a large planning session for parents and adult volunteers. We hope to have an almost finalized calendar of the upcoming year. For each of these activities, we will ask our parents and volunteers to help lead and coordinate a specific event.
2) When we ask for leaders, it will be done through prayer and discernment. For example, this is what we might say to someone: “We realize that you have a particular spiritual gift in working with youth (then name that gift). Will you prayerfully consider helping us with this activity/event? Before you answer, please spend some time praying about your response.” The act of leadership and discernment should be rooted in prayer.
3) Consider forming a parents’ small group to meet at the same time as your youth group. Parents can take turns helping with different events and activities.
4) Identify the spiritual gifts of the members of your congregation. Don’t rely solely on parents. Look to all age groups.
5) Invite certain individuals to begin praying for the youth and youth ministry of the church. Maybe even have a prayer group that meets prior to your youth group meeting.
6) Invite leaders of your youth ministry to a retreat. Take time to plan events together and demonstrate how much you appreciate their support. Give leaders tips for how to interact with youth. For example, an easy suggestion is instead of saying, “Did you have a good weekend?” Ask, “What did you do this weekend?” Yes or No answers are conversation killers with teenagers.
7) Introduce the leaders of your youth ministry to the entire church. Have a special Sunday, or even in the church newsletter, where you lift up all of the different ways lay leaders make such ministry possible.
8) Let your adult volunteers lead youth group and utilize their ideas.
9) Send postcards thanking them for their help.
10) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ministry is a team effort.
What else would you add to the list?