Congratulations, you made it to the summer and for most of us it is another notch in the youth ministry belt. Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in youth ministry, when another year passes by you look back at how far you’ve come and then you might find yourself asking, “How long can I really do youth ministry?”
It’s not a question of, “Is it time to quit?” because that’s a result of frustration and burn out. Pondering your longevity is healthy question because let’s face it one day your time will come to hang up the flip-flops and t-shirts. One day you will not be the youth minister of the church in which you currently reside. By asking this question you begin the process of doing something every youth minister should do which is REPLACE YOURSELF.
But, how do you go about doing so? How does one replace them selves without picking a date? It starts with:
Casting Vision: Your ministry can’t be about you otherwise it will crumble when you depart. Creating a vision means creating a destination that goes beyond you. It’s about what you feel God has called you to lead and one-day hand off. In order to make this happen you need to share the vision of your ministry with your team, your students and the church so that they can carry it forward even after you are gone.
Building Up Leaders: You replace yourself by delegating responsibilities so that when you walk away the ministry can keep moving. But, it’s not just about recruiting foot soldiers to do your work, it’s about looking for people who have the potential to takeover when you step down and bring the ministry to an entirely new level. To find these people look for those who are out of the box thinkers, have a heart for God and the courage to make bold moves.
Thinking Steps Not Programs: If your ministry is all about event planning it won’t have the structure to thrive on it’s own. If you have a vision the best way to reach it is through a ministry that consistently leads teenagers into the next step of their faith journey. Every thing that you plan should have a next step or else you will find people hitting a dead end.
Replacing yourself isn’t easy; it takes work and is a long-term plan. You are not going to know the day your role, as a ministry leader will end; therefore, it’s always good to plan for the future. On top of creating a sustainable structure you need to make sure that pride and fear never stand in the way. That is why you need to make sure that God is leading you. When you work on your replacing yourself you are not only building a healthy ministry but also one that will last.
How are you replacing yourself?
Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. You can read more about his blog Marathon Youth Ministry.