Smaller-Church Youth Ministry: Harnessing Your Help
group magazine: May-June, 2011
by Stephanie Caro
Meet my friend Susan Goodenough (it’s really her name), a youth minister at a smaller church in Delaware. We’re spending time together while she works on her certification through the Youth Ministry Institute at Princeton Theological Seminary. Ministries won’t survive unless we share our gifts and resources, so I’m passing along these valuable insights from Susan:
“When God called me into this profession, my role models were cool leaders from high-energy youth ministries who could run great games. I tried every ‘foolproof’ game out there, with the same (lame) results. I couldn’t run a game to save my life.
Where did I go wrong? I was turning to others to see what my ministry should look like. I read the latest books, attended conferences, and incorporated the strategies perfected by the thriving church across town. That was a good start, but I shouldn’t have let someone else define my ministry—or my worth. Eventually, I discovered God’s game plan for me: My ministry will be as unique as the leaders in it.”
So who’s defining your ministry and its direction? First, consider the adult leaders and volunteers God has placed on your team. What are their gifts, talents, likes, and dislikes? And how well are you harnessing them to fulfill your ministry’s mission?
Don’t make the mistake of planning a program and then trying to fit in the leaders. Instead, base the course of your ministry around people’s skills and interests. People are most effective when they’re using and developing their natural talents and spiritual gifts. A natural energy and enthusiasm will develop around each program or event when it’s merged with finely honed leadership.
Do you have some great teachers? Then let them teach. Do you lack “game people” at the moment? Then don’t do games. If you have natural encouragers, give them free rein to spread the love. If you’re blessed with people who love organization and spreadsheets, put them in charge of event-planning details. Buy a power strip and tell your techies to go to town.
Find a way to appropriately plug in every leader God brings you. Trust the process—and God. He knows what he’s doing. When you empower team members to lead, they’ll own their individual piece of the ministry. Meanwhile, your program will thrive as it reaches young people, parents, and the community with the gospel.
Stephanie is a 30-year ministry vet. She authored the new book 99 Thoughts for Smaller-Church Youth Ministries and blogs for us at SmallChurchYouthMinistry.com.
Work Attire: flannel pants
Summer Youth Ministry: Group Workcamps
Person: My hubby
Child: They know which one they are!