3 Ways To Grow Your Children’s Ministry In 2020

A fresh new year. Blank pages on a calendar. This year, it’s even a fresh new decade! What better time is there for dreaming and visioning, both in our personal life and our ministry life? So for 2020, let’s dream about a few things to grow your children’s ministry!

3 Ways To Grow Your Children’s Ministry In 2020

Host a “no-strings-attached” community event.

In ministry, we try to make every single event about preaching and teaching. But, we cannot forget good old-fashioned fellowship!

Look around your community and ask yourself what local events are well-attended by community families. Does your neighborhood love live music? Are the people outdoorsy or adventure types? Would a chess tournament would speak to your community?

Whatever it is, find a way to host an event that will speak to the folks who live in your context. Host a free or low-cost event at or near your church. Outside of your church is even better! Allow people to see what you are doing.

Now here’s the hard part – resist every urge to preach at this event.

There should be no stories, no devotions, JUST FUN.

Have pamphlets of information about your church and some posters with service times. If someone has questions about their faith, answer them. However, for a vast majority attending, this is just an opportunity for them to see your church as a “safe place,” a place they can step into without fear.

I learned years ago that it takes approximately seven pleasant encounters with a church (that are NOT worship related) for a person who is “church-hesitant” to be willing to attend a worship-based event.

If we are not getting out into the community, showing them who we are, inviting them into a relationship with us, then how can we ever expect them to be brave enough to step into our sanctuaries?

Get into your local school.

If you do not already know which school is your local school, then go on your school district’s website. Then you will plug your church address into the “school locator” tool. The locator tool will tell you what schools a family would attend if they lived at your church.

You have just taken the first step to finding your people! These are the children who bike, walk, or ride past your campus every day. These are the families who see your church as a part of their neighborhood. 

After you have determined the school to focus on, contact the principal. Making contact may take a few days-school principals are busy people! After you get in touch with them, here’s what you to say.

 “Hi! I’m the children’s director at Faith Church just down the street, and we want to know how our church can better support your school? What are your biggest needs?”

After you speak, I want you to listen. Do not make suggestions, just listen. 

Maybe they need tutors? 

Maybe they need underwear for the clinic? 

Maybe they need buddies helping in the car line in the morning? 

Whatever their need is, try to imagine how your church can step into that need.

I guarantee that as your church begins to live into that school’s community, those families will start talking! Your efforts will cause you to become more than the church they pass on the corner.

In other words, you will be part of their lives, and before you know it, they will trust you enough to bring you their children for VBS, camp, and maybe even worship!

Stop worrying about the numbers.

Now, I know this article said it would be about growing your ministry. Maybe growing your ministry doesn’t mean increasing the number of bodies in your classrooms. 

Growing your ministry means increasing the reach your ministry has in your community.

Growth means reducing the number of children who are freezing during the winter by supplying your local school with coats.

Maybe it means increasing the number of people in your area who hear the name of your church and say, “oh, Faith Church? They’re amazing!”

Maybe it means being the hands and feet of Jesus to a world that needs us more than ever – even when they are more likely than ever not to attend church.

It might mean re-thinking just what your ministry is and what it does.

Growth could even mean taking a deep breath and jumping into something completely unknown.

You can grow your children’s ministry.

Try these 3 ways to grow your children’s ministry in 2020 and you will see some positive impact on your ministry this year! There is a new year ahead of you, and with the new year comes new opportunities!


A photo of Annette Johnson, Children's Ministry Coaching Coordinator for the Youth Ministry Institute.

Annette Johnson is the Children’s Ministry Coaching Coordinator for YMI and has served in full-time ministry for over 12 years. She is a graduate of Florida Southern College in Lakeland. After several years of teaching elementary school, Annette entered into children’s ministry.  Now she is a full-time coach, speaker, and teacher. She is married to Kevin, who is the pastor at HHUMC. Annette and Kevin have been married for 17 years and have 5 children.  She loves singing, cooking, playing with her family, and binge-watching shows on Netflix.


3 Ways To Grow Your Youth Ministry in 2020

Growing plant gives the image of a growing youth ministry.

It is probably safe to assume that you would like to see your youth ministry grow. No matter who you are, I believe these 3 ways to grow your youth ministry will help.

If you are new to youth ministry, you may not know where to begin. Do you buy the massive unicorn float at the pool store, act crazy, and give away iPads to get students to attend? While these ideas could serve a substantial purpose, I believe there are better places for you to focus.

For ministry veterans, the need looks different. You hit your top number every fall or every spring. You know why you got to that number – a sermon series that draws students in or a season of momentum driven by events or activities. So how do you stay or even pass your top attendance number?

While not an exhaustive list, here are three ways you may go about growing your ministry in 2020.

3 Ways To Grow Your Youth Ministry In 2020

Accurate And Complete Attendance.

The first of 3 ways to grow your youth ministry in 2020 is with accurate and complete attendance.

At first glance, this may seem like a simple concept. I bet you do this, right? You take perfect attendance all of the time.

It amazes me the number of leaders who fail to take accurate attendance. To those of us in youth ministry, we often see taking attendance as a negative or uncomfortable administrative task.

Often we believe taking attendance is only about giving numbers to those in charge or worse; we see attendance numbers as threatening to our value as a youth pastor.

When you take count of the people who are at all of your activities, you develop a complete record of where you currently stand as a ministry.

Accurate numbers help you see the areas of your program that are trending upwards, the areas of your ministry that you may need to remove, and the seasons of ministry that provide you with the best opportunities for new ideas.

Numbers are also about something else. Numbers are about people.

When you take attendance, you quickly see when someone has stopped attending. You can love people and care for them better when you notice they have not been to your ministry in a few weeks.

By following up with a person who has not attended, you may learn of a new activity they are involved in, health issues in their family, or drama they’ve experienced. Regardless of why they have stopped attending, you will be in a place to gain knowledge and will be able to asses how best to care for them as a person.

Accurate attendance records open the door to explore new ideas, eliminate failing programs, and, most importantly, to care in meaningful ways for the people in your ministry.

Consider Your Ratio.

Look at the size and depth of your adult leaders. What is your ratio of adults to students?

If you have too many students and not enough leaders, students will not feel known by an adult. Students who do not feel known in your ministry will leave or never connect in the first place.

Teens need your adult leaders to know their joys, pains, fears, and dreams.

If you structure your adult to student ratio low enough for your students to be fully known, then you will grow. At the Youth Ministry Institute, we recommend nothing more than a 1 to 5 ratio of adults to students.

If you currently have enough adults for the students that you have, then you need to add one or two adults. Ministries that grow are ministries that prepare for growth. Do you currently have five adults, then recruit two more. (See my article on 5 Types Of Leaders You Need On Your Team.)

Your adult leaders can make a significant impact on your growth in 2020. Recruit adults so that students can be known and loved this year! 

Increase Student Pride.

People want to participate in things that excite them. I wonder how excited your students are about the youth ministry? Do they feel pride in their group, in their adults, in themselves, in Jesus?

If your students feel pride in anything about your ministry, they will share this with others, and it will influence how they act in the world. A student’s felt pride for your group will often translate into excitement, and excitement can be the doorway to connection.

Your ministry is worthy of feeling pride. You have a message of hope, joy, peace, and Jesus! What are you doing to help foster excitement and pride in the ministry that you lead?

Celebrate students who represent the group. Take pictures of your students wearing your ministry shirt at their school events and post them on your social media. Ask students to share stories with the entire group of how they lived out the teachings or values of your group. If they are nervous about telling the story to their peers, ask them if you can share their story with the group.

Talk and teach about how amazing your group is and what Jesus is doing in your group. Always tell people in your church about the positives outcomes of the youth ministry.

Often the pride students need in their group is modeled first by you, the leader. If you model pride in the group for your adult leaders and students, eventually, they will grab hold of this, and good things will begin to happen.

I believe that you can grow your ministry in 2020. Taking these three steps can help put you and your ministry on a positive trajectory towards that growth. 


Brian is the Director of Student Development for YMI and has served in youth ministry since 2004. Brian holds a Master of Ministry with a focus in organizational culture, team-based leadership, change, conflict, and peacemaking from Warner University. In addition to his degrees from Warner, he studied Christian Education at Asbury Theological Seminary. Click the social links below to engage with Brian.


YOU MAY BE YOUR MINISTRY’S WORST ENEMY – PART 2

You may be your ministry’s worst enemy. 

A few weeks ago, in part one, we discussed one way you may be hurting your ministry. Today we are going to explore another way that you may cause harm.

You may be your ministry’s own worst enemy by failing to invest in your personal development.

I think we, as leaders have several reasons why we fail to work on our development. 

Maybe you are too busy. 

You have one event, after another. You have a youth ministry activity quickly followed by a church-wide event. There doesn’t seem to be enough time! So what gets ignored? Your development.

You spend all your time pouring into others, and now you lack the energy for yourself.

You lead volunteer training, student leadership meetings, and are the chaplain for the local high school team. After pouring out so much to other people, you may want to do nothing. 

You may lack the resources. 

If you are at a smaller church, you may have no budget. You may be the entirety of your youth ministry’s budget. For you, I would say, there are ways.

You do not feel the need for self-development. 

Sometimes people think they have arrived. When others look to you for advice or guidance, it can be easy for you to begin to believe that you have all the answers.

This thinking is far from the truth. I see it the other way. The more people lean on you, the more you must seek your personal development.

When you fail to seek development, you are not only failing yourself. You are letting the ministry and others around you down.

5 WAYS YOU CAN BEGIN SELF-DEVELOPMENT

Seek out a network. 

Ministry can be done alone, for a short time.

Yes, you can run a year or two of ministry by yourself. But doing youth ministry alone, without a sense of genuine community around you, will lead to an unhealthy ministry and steer you towards burnout. 

You need others to support you. You need others to remind you that you matter. A network can play this role. The other youth pastors in your network can serve to refresh your spirits and give you a sense of community.

Each member of a youth pastor network brings a variety of backgrounds and ideas. Collectively, there is a gold mine of experience in your group. And what better place to look for advice than in a trusted group of your peers?

In a network, you find refreshment, community, and ideas. For those of you from small churches with a minimal budget, networks are cheap or free!

Read. 

Books, blogs, magazines, and devotionals.

There are many excellent reading materials out there. Find a book or blog that speaks to the area or areas that you need the most significant development. 

When reading a blog, be sure to sign-up for their emails. And remember, do your research. Does this person seem to know what they are talking about? Does this writer have credible experience?

New to youth ministry, I recommend Your First Two Years In Youth Ministry by Doug Fields.

Looking for personal development, check out The Self-Aware Leader by Terry Linhart.

Need some help refining how you can measure success in ministry, read Deep & Wide by Andy Stanley

Find a mentor. 

One thing that I know for sure, there is someone else out there that has more experience than you. 

There are always people out there who have more or different experiences than you. They can be a valuable resource.

Maybe the mentor challenges you or gives you a different perspective you have never considered. Regardless, they add value to you. Find a mentor.

Listen to podcasts. 

Podcasts are like blogs, free and come in a wide variety.

There are many great podcasts out there. Listen to a few of them when you are driving, mowing, doing laundry, or cleaning the youth room. 

The fact that they are free makes podcasts an excellent resource for those who have little to no budget.

Youth Ministry Institute is currently developing a podcast. We believe it will be a great, free resource for you.

Sign-up for coaching and training

Sometimes we need more focused attention.

Whether you are just beginning in ministry, or are feeling stuck, coaching is a great option. With coaching, you get the focused attention of someone with great insight. 

Coaches challenge thinking, question decisions, and force you to consider all the options. They do these things in an attempt to help you develop and to define what you are attempting to accomplish more clearly.

A coach will bring fresh eyes, perspective, and experience to your situations. 

Youth Ministry Institute offers customizable and proven coaching with some of the best coaches out there. Contact us if you need more info.

For small churches, with little budget, do not be afraid to reach out to us. We have options for you as well.

Your development as a leader, matters. Focusing on your learning does not make you selfish. Instead, it makes you wise. It makes you humble. It makes you the kind of leader that we all want to follow.


Brian is the Director of Student Development for YMI and has served in youth ministry since 2004. Brian holds a Master of Ministry with a focus in organizational culture, team-based leadership, change, conflict, and peacemaking from Warner University. In addition to his degrees from Warner, he studied Christian Education at Asbury Theological Seminary. Click the social links below to engage with Brian.


GET READY FOR TOUGH QUESTIONS

“Can God create a rock so heavy that He can’t move it?”

If you’ve ever had a student ask you this question or a question like it, you might have dismissed it. It’s a bit of a silly question, and I’m betting it was probably a silly student who asked it.

But, if you were to linger on the questions for a bit, you might have had a harder time than you thought to formulate an answer that makes sense. 

Paradoxical questions are worth thinking about, but could you answer some serious, difficult questions? “If God created everything, who created God?” “How was the Bible made?” “Does God know everything we’re going to do?” Do any of these sound familiar? 

Those questions aren’t just for senior pastors. There are some significant implications for you as a youth pastor in wrestling with them.

WHY YOU NEED TO TRY AND ANSWER TOUGH QUESTIONS

IT’S GOOD FOR YOUR FAITH.

Odds are, you know WHAT you believe. But do you know WHY you believe it? I know it’s not always easy or pleasant, but wrestling with why you believe what you believe will significantly enrich your faith. 

You’ll also find your relationship with God to be more vibrant when you start to see and believe that He’s not afraid of your questions and won’t send you away because you ask them.

Our God is a God who draws near to His people, even in their confusion or doubt. 

If you want to make it very far in ministry of any kind, you need an active, growing faith of your own. Over time, you’ll find that the muscles of our faith tend to atrophy if we don’t ever wrestle with tough questions. 

STUDENTS ARE GOING TO ASK THEM

If you haven’t had a student ask you a really tough question yet, I promise you it’s coming! These questions are sometimes theoretical and unemotional.

“How was Jesus God AND man?” “How was the Bible made?”

But they can also be deeply personal to students.

“If God is good AND all-powerful, why does He allow school shootings,” “Why would a loving God send anyone to Hell?” 


Students may only be aware of the question they’re asking but, there’s something else happening at the same time. They’re allowing you to earn their trust and respect.

When a student asks you a difficult question, and you have an answer for them, even if it’s only a partial answer, they learn that you have asked yourself these questions before. That means you can relate to them! 

They’re also going to feel like they can trust you. You just showed them you’re not scared of their questions, and you’re a safe person for them to ask.

If they asked you their question in front of all the other students, you’ve just become more relatable and trustworthy to everyone, not just the student asking the question.

That’s a win! 

BUT DON’T ANSWER ALL OF THEM

It is such a beautiful thing that God has communicated so many things about Himself to His people. And, you should give a lot of time and energy to knowing what God has said and exploring how you can grow in it, both personally and in your ministry. 

But, you are doing your students a disservice if the God you expose them to is small enough for them to understand completely.

Your students need a God that is bigger than they can imagine. Let their minds be blown, at least from time to time, by how incomprehensible God is. 

Your students will never accurately understand God if they are never challenged to embrace mystery. It’s an essential part of our relationship with Him. 

As a youth pastor, you should want to foster a safe environment where students can wrestle with tough questions. But, you should also try to respond in ways that help build a sense of wonder. It’s in that tension where you’ll start to see faith come alive in your ministry. 


Skylar Jones serves as Youth and Family Minister at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in DeLand, FL. He has worked in many different capacities since he began serving the church nearly 20 years ago. Skylar is married and has a son. He met his wife at Berry College, in Rome, GA, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English. He enjoys sports, music, long walks on the beach, and anything made by Reese’s. Click the social links below to engage with Skylar.


ONE WAY TO COUNTER A TOXIC GROUP CULTURE

Toxic people create toxic groups and quickly derail your mission. As leaders, we need to learn how to overcome a toxic group culture.

What do I mean?

A new student shows up to your group but never returns. A longtime student leaves. Both students say your group has too many cliques. 

There may be a lack of participation in games, activities, discussions, or events. 

Or no matter how much promotion you try and the amount of money you spend, you still cannot generate excitement. 

You may have an excellent mission statement, and your church may give you plenty of financial support. Your youth room may be the best in town. None of these things matter if you do not have something to guide the group culture in a positive direction.

At the root of the problem is this, without a mechanism to guide it, your group will become whatever the loudest voice desires.

A student decides they don’t like a game, guess what, no one will like the game.

Someone likes being the center of attention; they will make sure that your group revolves around them.

So how do we counter the loudest voices in the room and overcome a toxic group culture?

CORE VALUES.

Core values are a set of beliefs that define how your group will act. They help you and your leadership team define what a person will experience when they participate with your group.

Your stated core values should be in every gathering of your people. Every core value, every time. No matter what your groups does. No matter where your group goes. Your core values will be present, and your group will stay consistent.

Core values are the number one weapon in combating a toxic culture and toxic people.

When someone is attempting to hijack your group, making it all about them, use your core values to steer them in the right direction. When you are training your student leaders about the significance of games, remind them about your core values.

WRITING CORE VALUES.

Core values can be simple. In fact, simple is always better.

I suggest writing single words that are easily understood. Yes, you should define these words, but easily understandable words convey an easily understood message.

A few core values that I have used in the past have been words such as: relational, inclusive, enjoyable, trinity-Centered, and relevant.

When you write these words, think about what you desire for your group to become. 

What do you hope a new person will experience when they participate for the first time? What sort of group culture will attract people?  

Remember, it is important to keep your words simple. It is equally significant to limit your number of words. I would never write more than five values. 

Why no more than five values?

Core values are only as strong as they are known. 

You need your adult leaders, your student leaders, and even your regular attendees to know these words. The more people who know your values, the more likely they are to be emulated.

Your mission is important, and being properly supported matters. But the best mission and the most fully funded ministry can be sabotaged by a toxic culture. 

Don’t wait. Get your team together and develop core values. In the end, your group will be healthier, and your message made stronger.


Brian is the Director of Student Development for YMI and has served in youth ministry since 2004. Brian holds a Master of Ministry with a focus in organizational culture, team-based leadership, change, conflict, and peacemaking from Warner University. In addition to his degrees from Warner, he studied Christian Education at Asbury Theological Seminary. Click the social links below to engage with Brian.


WHY AND HOW TO BEGIN A YOUTH PASTOR NETWORK

You are a rare breed. Not many people would give up their Saturday to spend it with middle school students, especially when a student tries to give you a muddy hug after they have whizzed down the giant slip-n-slide!

You see, youth ministry seems a little off. Most people lack an understanding of what we do. It seems ludicrous to many of our more civilized adult friends. 

As a person of a rare breed, you need to develop a community with people who get “it.” After all, do you expect your lawyer friend to understand Noodle Hockey?

When you need community with others of an uncommon breed, find a youth pastor network. If there isn’t one around you, start one! If you don’t know where to begin, here are some thoughts.

HOW TO START A YOUTH PASTOR NETWORK

Don’t ask for permission. 

As Bob Goff says in his book Love Does, too often we wait for others to give us permission. 

Say this out loud, “I do not need permission to start a youth pastor network.” 

Feel better?

Don’t wait for someone else. The only qualifications for this role are that you are part of the rare breed, and you desire community with others.

Geographical location may matter the most.

You can create your network around anything. You may start a group based on denominations, experience level, gender, or even convenience. 

Any of these would work well, but I believe the best thing to build your network around is your geographical location. 

When you are near each other, everyone will be more likely to attend often and consistently. Closeness allows you to develop connections with people near you, who are outside of your church. 

Commit to who you already have.

Start with one or two people that you already know. You may not know many people to join your network, but you may know a few. Start with them.

The size of the network does not indicate quality. Start small and be consistent with your group.

Make the calls or send the e-mails.

Without work, you cannot expect people to show up to your group. You and your early members need to start by doing some groundwork. 

Look up the websites of churches in your area and find the staff page. Send e-mails or make phone calls to any youth pastor you can find.

You may only get a few responses, but remember, size does not indicate quality. And know this, recruiting for your group will be a constant for your group. 

Encourage a culture of recruitment in your group.

Recruiting for your network never stops. People move in and out of roles. Someone who is part of your group this year may be at a different church next year.

Recruitment for your group should never stop and should become a goal of all members of the network.

YOU NEED A NETWORK

Friends, you need a network of people who understand you. You need a group of people who can challenge you and encourage you. We all need people who get us, care for us, and give us a place to not be “on” the job. 

So go out and find your network. If one doesn’t exist, start one. I believe you can do this and am excited for you to begin.


Brian is the Director of Student Development for YMI and has served in youth ministry since 2004. Brian holds a Master of Ministry with a focus in organizational culture, team-based leadership, change, conflict, and peacemaking from Warner University. In addition to his degrees from Warner, he studied Christian Education at Asbury Theological Seminary. Click the social links below to engage with Brian.


FINDING YOUR WAY WHEN YOU FEEL LOST AND DEFEATED IN MINISTRY

Regardless of how you got into youth ministry, I think there is one thing you and I have in common.

We began in ministry because we love Jesus. In your life, you’ve had some encounter, experience, or insight that made it clear to you that Jesus will always be the G.O.A.T. (Does anyone say G.O.A.T.?)

Unfortunately, you and I often forget something important, and our perspective becomes blurred. What do I mean?

Our first day of ministry sounds like this, “I am here because I love Jesus.” 

Our following days of ministry sound more like this, “I am loved by Jesus if I succeed in this ministry.”

Now, I know. You would not verbalize that phrase- at least not out loud.

Friends, I know this feeling. You know this feeling. We both know what this looks like in our lives.

When you have a conversation with another youth pastor, and their success does something within you. You feel inferior or envious. Maybe you wonder why you haven’t had the same sort of success.

You feel the need to brag, not merely because you are excited, but because you need others to see how good you are at youth ministry.

When you work all the time and cannot put away your thoughts about ministry- because it is who you are. The youth pastor identity has taken over all of your life.

Or maybe it looks like you, feeling deflated when twenty-five students show up instead of thirty.

A trusted student doesn’t’ follow-through with their commitment. Yes, you are frustrated; they should keep their commitment. But you feel something stronger. It feels personal.

You begin to take it all personally. You question your validity as a youth pastor or volunteer. 

Eventually, you and I, we fall into the trap of questioning our value. Suddenly the spiral begins, and our thoughts sound like this: 

Students don’t show up. Leaders don’t volunteer. Our group is not as large as their group. I wish we had a band. My preaching must not be good enough. I must not be good enough. If they are doing such great things for Jesus, and I am not, then I must not be enough for Jesus.

Friends, we fall into this trap far too often. I have had my moments in that place. I am sure you have had moments of these experiences. Our head knows that Jesus loves us regardless of our success in ministry, but our hearts forget.

Jesus has not called you or asked you into a life of forgetting that first; you are a beloved child of God.

How do we get out of this place? How do you get back to remembering why you got into ministry in the first place? 


A few thoughts that may be of help to you.


Put it away. 

Ministry needs to stay, as much as possible, out of your house and family.

When you leave the church, say a prayer. Your prayer could be something like this.

“God, I’m leaving this here and trusting you. I am trusting you to continue your work as I go home. I am going to leave everything here so I can be fully present with my family.”

Yes, there are times you will need to address ministry needs at home. But make that the exception.

Give your spiritual life room to breath. 

We know this, our prep time for teaching often becomes the full extent of our spiritual development.

You can do this for a little while. Eventually though, if you are not filling your spiritual gas tank, it will run on empty.

Make room for your spiritual development. Prioritize it. Manage your schedule well so that you can make time. 

You may even want to block off time on your calendar. If someone wants to meet with you, say, “I’m sorry, I am unavailable during that time. Can we try another time?” 

Do not apologize and do not feel guilty for creating time for your spiritual development.

Seek out a counselor. 

When you find yourself in a place that you forget who you are, you may need the help of a guide.

I strongly recommend a trained, Christian counselor. If that is not an option for you, find a friend. A trusted friend that you can explore what you are feeling. 

Seeking the advice of a counselor can refresh you, remind you of what matters, and give you a renewed sense of value.


There are many other ways to find your way back to who you truly are. Read. The book, Life of the Beloved may be an excellent place to start. Journal. Pray constantly. Go on a retreat or take a sabbatical.

Friends, your identity is not in what you produce in ministry. You are meant for more than that kind of shallow living. 


Brian is the Director of Student Development for YMI and has served in youth ministry since 2004. Brian holds a Master of Ministry with a focus in organizational culture, team-based leadership, change, conflict, and peacemaking from Warner University. In addition to his degrees from Warner, he studied Christian Education at Asbury Theological Seminary. Click the social links below to engage with Brian.


5 TYPES OF LEADERS YOU NEED ON YOUR TEAM

You know that you need a team of leaders. To get this team, you will have to recruit people. It is probably not too far of a stretch to think that you want your team to be a strong team.

So you need a team, and you want quality leaders. I wonder, though, have you ever considered what type of leaders you need?

If you take some time to think about the type of leaders you need, your recruitment efforts have focus. By defining the kind of leader you are seeking, you can be more focused in your search and your ask.

So here is a list of five types of people you may want to add to your team.

The Writer.

You know the feeling that you experience when an Amazon package arrives. Or really when you receive anything other than a bill! Students are the same.

I once had a writer that sent the best notes. Her cards and letters made you feel as though you were the most important person in the world!

Students love cards. Cards remind them that they matter. Cards speak of belonging. Cards tell students that you love them even when they are not at church.

Find someone who will handwrite cards and mail them to your new students, your missing students, for special occasions and even just random notes to students. The best part, your writer could be a retiree or someone who cannot volunteer during your regular youth gatherings.

The Energizer.

Student gatherings need some level of positive energy. Some would call this the “craziness” factor.

Some of us are full of energy, and others are not. That is when we call up the volunteer full of energy. You know this volunteer. It is the person that can make any game exciting. It is the leader that will get the wave going. Or the volunteer that shouts louder than your youth room music when they see a student walk in the room.

The energizer volunteer matters. They bring joy and excitement to the room. These volunteers help you create an environment that feels full of life and vitality- students crave these sort of places.

The Organizer.

Some of you know you need this volunteer. You struggle maintaining medical forms, or an accurate database of your students. You love teaching, preaching, or games, but you can’t stand the thought of organizing music folders.

The organizer helps to keep you on track, makes your team and ministry run better, and helps your ministry gain trustworthiness from parents.

The Risk Manager.

Yes, those of us in youth ministry need to be concerned about safety. I once had a team member who worked in risk management for major corporations. He was a great leader and asset to the team.

Risk managers help you consider things you may not have otherwise. They also help keep you safe, your team safe, and any student safe who participate in your program. You may not have thought of this, but the risk manager can keep you and your ministry moving forward in the healthiest way possible.

The Musical One.

For some of you, this one is obvious. You may not have any training or musical ability, so of course, you would want someone to help your students worship through music.

Or are you the person who already can play the guitar, piano, or even didgeridoo? You may be able to help students explore their gifting in music. The question is, should you?

Just because you can, does not mean you should.

Finding a musically talented leader allows students to have an additional adult speaking into their life. This leader will also make it possible for you to be in other places, focusing on other vital aspects of ministry.

Finally, giving away things always makes you, your team, and ministry stronger.


You may need one, two, three, or even all of these leaders on your team. You may also have ideas about other types of leaders that you need. Regardless, you need a team. Teams make you and your ministry healthier and stronger.


Brian is the Director of Student Development for YMI and has served in youth ministry since 2004. Brian holds a Master of Ministry with a focus in organizational culture, team-based leadership, change, conflict, and peacemaking from Warner University. In addition to his degrees from Warner, he studied Christian Education at Asbury Theological Seminary. Click the social links below to engage with Brian.


YOU MAY BE YOUR MINISTRY’S WORST ENEMY

You could possibly be the worst enemy of your youth ministry, volunteer team, and students. As leaders, this is never something you dream to be, but it does happen. Certainly, at times you might beat yourself up when you’ve made a mistake, but it isn’t the norm. At least I hope not! I’m talking about something much deeper than the occasional mistake.

You see I think there is a way that we sabotage the ministry we serve, and often we do not realize the error of our way.

So how are we the enemy of our youth ministry? What makes us that way? And how do we stop it?

We become our youth ministry’s worst enemy when we fail to give away the ministry to other people. 

You know what this looks like. You are running at full speed, doing everything on your own. All questions are directed your way because no one else knows the answers. Maybe you have small groups, but not many of them. Maybe you don’t even have small groups! There are never enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on your list- but you know Wednesday or Sunday is coming!

Have you ever shared the teaching platform with someone else? Has anyone else seen the full roster of students? Or can a volunteer create your slides? If you were not there, could the ministry operate without you?

I think there are many reasons why we fail to give away the ministry.

Maybe we have an ego or identity problem. We want the ministry and people to need us. It feels good to feel needed. So we intentionally or unintentionally hold the keys to everything. We do not take the time to train people. We do not give others opportunities to learn, grow, and lead.

We may also be afraid to ask people, after all, we do not want to overburden them. Yet I would challenge you to consider this- what if God or that leader had never invited or asked you to participate in youth ministry? Asking people to join, support, or try something new is about giving them the opportunity. It is about giving them what may be a gift. It is about believing in them. I am thankful for the many people who have believed in me over the years- as I hope you have the same experience.

Occasionally it is a matter of timing. Yes, if you are new to a ministry or struggling to get started, it may take you a little longer to train and teach others. Yet, at the top of your list should be the idea of recruiting a team and giving pieces away as soon as possible.

The best way to begin becoming a supporter, a friend, a leader of your youth ministry is to identify why, and then begin the process of letting go.

Identify why. Why have you not been giving pieces away?

Is there a pride or identity issue that needs to be worked out? Maybe you need a group of friends, colleagues, or a trained counselor to help you wrestle through this with you. Possibly you need to spend time in Scripture rediscovering where your true value comes from.

You may need to reframe your understanding of the ask. Yes, you could overburden someone. But, you may also help someone discover more about themselves than they ever thought possible. Give the gift of opportunity and development to someone else.

The truth at the core is this- the youth ministry is far bigger than you. God’s Kingdom is larger than any one person. Youth ministry done well is a ministry that has many key people, leaders, and students.


Brian is the Director of Student Development for YMI and has served in youth ministry since 2004. Brian holds a Master of Ministry with a focus in organizational culture, team-based leadership, change, conflict, and peacemaking from Warner University. In addition to his degrees from Warner, he studied Christian Education at Asbury Theological Seminary. Click the social links below to engage with Brian.