Do you sometimes feel like a “lone ranger” as you strive to recalibrate your youth ministry model around Jesus’ mission of reaching the lost and making disciples who make disciples? If this is a familiar feeling for you, you probably already know that burnout comes quickly to those who feel isolated and alone.
Whether you currently suffer from a case of full blown lone rangeritis, or you only get occasional twinges of this malady, building an effective youth ministry team is one of the essential keys to avoiding this debilitating distortion of God’s blueprint for church ministry. Which brings us to the next question in our “Top Ten Questions” series…
Question #4: How do I build a youth ministry team of adult leaders that will help me make evangelism a higher priority?
“Lone ranger” ministry was never God’s design for the church. When we read 1 Corinthians 12, we get a glimpse of what teamwork in ministry looks like. It should encourage us. And it should challenge us as leaders to cultivate a youth ministry team around us that taps into God’s plan for “the Body” working together using its differing gifts and talents.
Recruiting a Team
So, how do you go about building a team of adults to help you? You start by looking for adults who love teenagers and are serious about teaching students and seeing students share their faith. And you personally invite them to join your team. A blanket announcement from the pulpit will never be as effective as a one-on-one invitation to minister alongside you to teenagers. Personally make your case for “Why the Church Should Focus More on Teenagers.”
Here are some adults to be looking for to help you in your ministry:
- College and young adults – This is a great group to pull leaders from because they remember best the challenges of adolescence, often have more flexibility in their personal schedules and typically have a high energy level.
- Parents – Look for parents who are serious about raising their teens and ask them to help you behind the scenes. They can assist with both logistics and perspective. And they may be willing to come alongside smaller groups of students through mentoring relationships, particularly with teenagers who don’t come from a Christian home or who don’t have a father/mother in the picture.
- Senior adults – This frequently overlooked age group often has the time and wisdom to help you in your ministry.
Building and Nurturing Your Team
As you work alongside your adult helpers, it’s essential that you share your heart for an evangelism-focused youth ministry and nurture them as leaders. Consider some of the following approaches to team building:
- Cast the vision and keep it front and center in your team meetings.
- Make sure they’re trained and equipped to share their faith personally.
- Personally model an evangelism focus in your own life and ministry and let them see your struggles and successes when it comes to sharing your faith.
- Meet with them regularly and build in some mutual accountability processes. Accountability helps keep everyone on track in their personal walk with Jesus and in the time they spend ministering to students.
- Regularly encourage and remind them of the importance of their efforts and that teenagers are a great investment in God’s work. Matthew 6: 19-21 captures it well: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
- Tell them when you see the impact they are making in the lives of teenagers. A little encouragement goes a long way.
Whether you’re youth group is large or small, urban or rural, traditional or edgy, your ministry will be more effective if you avoid lone rangeritis and cultivate a team of adult leaders to help you make disciples who make disciples.