Does this complaint sound familiar to you? It can be frustrating to try and lead a youth ministry, only to get thwarted by your youth leaders who just don’t seem to get it.
They don’t get that they’re expected to focus on building relationships with the students
They don’t get that they need to make an effort to stay up to date on teen culture
They don’t get that as a youth pastor, you don’t have the time to connect with every single student
They don’t get that they’re the best method to recruit new volunteers
They don’t get that they’re expected to show up at all events
They don’t get that even though you’re on staff, you can’t do it all and thus had to cancel the retreat
Your youth leaders just don’t get it. But do you?
Sometimes we forget what it’s like to be a volunteer, to do what we do besides a full time job. We forget that our youth leaders don’t have the same access we have to resources, that they don’t have the time to read up on youth ministry blogs, or to watch the latest video gone viral. We forget that we have been in youth ministry for a long time, that we have learned and know exactly what to do and where our priorities should be…but they may be new and don’t know what’s expected of them.
So if your youth leaders just don’t get it, look at yourself first and ask yourself some honest questions:
- How well have you communicated your vision for the youth ministry? Do your youth leaders know it and support it?
- Have you made your expectations clear, do they know what their task as youth leader entails?
- Do you have any expectations that you have not communicated, that you consider ‘normal’ or ‘self-evident’?
- Are your expectations realistic, given the amount of time they can dedicate to the youth ministry?
- Have you given your leaders the training they need to do their task well?
- Are you supplying them with the information and resources they need to excel in what they do?
- Are you investing time and energy in team building and motivating your leaders?
- Are you available to them when they need you, or is there someone else who they can go to with questions?
- Are you communicating your decisions well enough, so they understand why you do things?
Let’s face it: when our youth leaders don’t get it, more often than not it’s our fault because we’re just not communicating well enough. If you want your youth leaders to ‘get it’, to excel in what they do in your youth ministry, you have to invest more time in them. Make training, coaching and motivating your leaders a priority and you’ll see that they will get it.
Rachel Blom is American at heart, Dutch in origin, but living in the south of Germany. She’s a youth ministry veteran who has the passion to help youth leaders worldwide serve better through her blog www.youthleaddersacademy.com. She’s a big fan of Twitter, where you can find her as @youthleadersac.