I have had the great opportunity to serve under some great youth pastors for 15 years. I have learned a lot from them. I have met so many new, young youth pastors over the years and, if I could, I would love to share a little insight with you with regards to your adult leaders.
First, being an adult leader can be a big commitment. Make sure you lay out all of the expectations before allowing someone to sit at a table with students. This is more than a one hour a week, show up at church, and lead a discussion type of commitment.
There is something different about youth ministry, it becomes part of your heart. The students become such a part of your heart, it hurts. There should be prep time for the small group time, visits to schools, athletic events, plays, and concerts. Most importantly, adult leaders should be spending time praying for their group.
Obviously, not all will feel the call to make this type of commitment and that’s OK. Be cautious before positioning someone in the ministry. Maybe suggest they sit at a table with a more seasoned adult leader before diving in, head first into their own group. It is better to have less (maybe even if it is a shortage) of fully engaged and committed leaders than “enough” leaders that have not bought in to the ministry.
With this said, there should always be room for people to serve in the ministry. You will need tech support, game coordinators, security, and other positions that can require less of a time commitment. Consider these other positions when an adult leader desires to commit to less time.
Next, this is a tough one, remember this is not your ministry. Yep, you are the pastor or director and you feel the brunt of the bad stuff, you get to deal with the irate parents, and you receive the grief of the executive or head pastor. This is, I believe, the toughest part of being a youth pastor. I have seen the time involved in meetings with parents, staff, and other adult leaders. You became a youth pastor because of your passion for students and now, most of your time is spent dealing with “adult” stuff.
When it comes to the day to day operations, the care of the students, and the logistics of the ministry, empower those that have bought into the ministry and let them lead. Nothing can be more frustrating than a high capacity leader not being used fully. You are cheating the leader, you are cheating the students, and you are cheating yourself.
I realize we have vision for youth group and you are all tremendous leaders. That’s why one of the most important duties you have when it comes to relating with your adult leaders is to cast the vision and KEEP casting it. Let us (the adult leader) do some of the heavy lifting with you, this is God’s ministry and we are all called to do our part.
Because of the high level of commitment, many adult leaders drop out for various reasons, which is the main reason you will always have to be recruiting new talent. College coaches seem to always be on the recruiting trail, they only get a kid for 3-5 years. You may only have an adult leader for one (yes, there will be those that stay forever), but I bet the majority of them move on in 3 years or less. Your eyes and ears must always be open for new members of your team.
Most of you youth pastors are not gifted in the following area. You are gifted as far as preaching, your passion for students is unquestioned, you want students to achieve goals and live out their lives for Christ and you have dedicated your life to it. Here is where a lot of you, to put it mildly, stink!! (I love you all, though). Surround yourself with a leadership team. The first person you bring into your leadership team has to cover – communication. I realize this doesn’t apply to all youth pastors, but I know it applies to a majority of you!! (Again – LOVE). You cannot over communicate to the parents, students, and others in your congregation as to events, changes, and milestones that are happening in the ministry.
Your leadership team should consist of those you trust the most with regards to communication, teaching, outreach, logistics, and organization.
Even in more detail, I am convinced you, as a youth pastor, need just a couple of people in an executive team. You need a safe place to vent, to be held accountable, you need a safe place to bounce ideas, and to dream way bigger than you could even imagine. This small, intimate team is where that stuff happens. This team is important for you, your sanity, your family, and for the ministry.
Finally, you are a cheerleader. Not just for students, but for all of your volunteers. Remember, they hurt when their students hurt. They may be sacrificing more than you will ever know to work in the ministry. Your encouragement goes a long way. Your constant prayers for them goes ALL THE WAY! Keep them in prayer, this is the most important thing you can do for them.
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