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.