Sometimes you might feel as if you are a Lone Ranger as you lead your small group for youth. But the truth is, as a small group leader of teens, you are part of a far bigger team. You are teammates with all the other small group leaders. You are teammates with your youth ministry leader. You are teammates with parents who are engaging their teens in spiritual growth. You are teammates with your pastor and other church leaders who work in other areas of your church’s ministry.
I think of student ministry team like a cargo net. Volunteers, church staff members, and parents link up much like a net. Sometimes nets catch and protect teens in crises or bad decisions. At other times, the team forms a net that give teens a way to climb higher. With this illustration, do you see what might happen if there is a hole in the net? Could someone drop through? Could someone wanting to move up higher be thwarted and limited without the support a net can provide?
How can you join in this important network of parents, volunteers, and ministerial staff? Here are some ideas for you.
- Be a low-maintenance volunteer that can work independently and interdependently.
- Imagine what a great team member in the youth ministry looks like and be that team member.
- Develop a clear understanding of your role in youth ministry. Set some goals and serve to make a difference.
- Show your appreciation for the leader of your youth ministry.
- Show your appreciation for other members of the youth ministry team. You understand more than most church members the challenges that volunteer youth leaders face.
- Ask the leader of your church’s youth ministry how you can be of further assistance to him or her and to the youth.
- Attend every leader meeting you can possibly attend so you are informed, and so you can encourage others.
- Pray for the youth ministry team. Pray every day and pray for each leader by name.
- Help youth and parents of youth to support the youth ministry.
- Be a representative of the youth ministry team to the larger church. Help keep adults and guests aware of the youth ministry activities and goals.
- Be a representative of the larger church to the youth ministry. Help teens understand what the church is doing and how they can participate. Interpret the work of the church to them.
- When you have questions, ask the youth ministry leader. He or she will not know how to help volunteers until someone speaks up.
- Deflect criticism of the youth ministry leader whenever you can.
- If you have a conflict to solve on the youth ministry team, do so in private and make sure everyone wins. There do not have to be losers in conflicts.
- Fulfill your responsibilities with prompt faithfulness. Keep your promises and show yourself dependable.
- Arrive early and be willing to stay late if needed. If youth Bible study starts on Wednesday nights at 6:30 for an hour, put it in your calendar as 6:00 for two hours. Breezing in after the study has started and leaving when it ends will never let you build relationships. Some of the most valuable ministry time you will have with teens and other volunteers will be before and after the meetings.
I can hardly think of more than two or three things a church does that touches the future more than youth ministry. As adults called to touch the lives of teens, we share in this awesome opportunity. Let’s unite in youth ministry and create a network of love and support that will introduce teens to Jesus our Lord and Savior.
Scripture: Read Galatians 6:2-5. While “team” is not used in these verses, you can get the idea of team. How would you apply these verses to your youth ministry team?
Dig Deeper: Read “Fine-Tuning Your Youth Ministry Leadership Team” by Richard Ross. This article provides a structure for helping volunteers take on amazing roles in youth ministry.
Now It’s Your Turn: What advice do you have for strengthening a youth ministry team in a church? Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.