6 Top Tips for Building a Youth Ministry Team
“Building a Youth Ministry Team is much like constructing a dry-stone wall. There are lots of modern ways of marking out a boundary… electric fences, barbed wire, fence panels, but all of them are expensive and/or temporary.
Traditional dry-stone walls are built using natural materials that are found locally. Whilst they need regular maintenance, they are
a long term sustainable option that costs very little. Each individual stone is carefully chosen and placed in just the right space. Every stone is vital, from the big foundation stones to the hidden tie stones that hold the wall together. The centre of the wall is filled with soil and rubble which allows plants and mosses to bind and strengthen the wall, but this takes time and happens naturally. Dry-stone walling is a forgotten craft in many communities, quick and expensive methods have taken its place. A beautifully constructed dry-stone wall lasts for generations, and the longer it exists the more it teems with life”.
- Think outside the box
Everyone has a role – build a balanced team. Break the ministry down into specific and needed tasks and roles (e.g. fundraising, listening, prayer support, refreshments…). Ensure the tasks and roles are real and valued, not tokenistic. Broaden people’s idea of what it looks like to be involved in Youth Ministry (e.g. not the stereotypical image of a young and extroverted youth leader). In what ways can older members of the Church and community engage? What about young people? People with disabilities? Who is God calling, and why is He calling them?
- Create a positive and infectious atmosphere
Enjoy being together as a team and getting to know one another. Rather than exhaust your team by producing more and more youth activities and events, remember to allow time to gather for food and fellowship. Jesus said (in John 13v35) “by this they will know that you are my disciples, how you love one another”. A sincere and loving atmosphere takes time to develop, but is vital, because it sets the tone for the whole youth ministry.
- Foster the conditions for good relationships
When the relationships are warm and welcoming, the resulting natural synergy creates sparks that naturally ignite creativity, passion and long-term commitment.
- Care deeply
It almost seems to obvious to say, but it is ever so easy to dive straight into a youth group or activity without stopping to ask your team how they are… How was your day? How is your family? Do you need to be at home with your family tonight? Care deeply for your team.
- Change the language
Often people plead for help from the front of Church in an almost apologetic way which gives the impression that the youth ministry is on the back foot – no-one wants to join a sinking ship! Whilst being authentic and truthful, do also be positive and excited about why it is good to be involved. Reframe questions and requests, whether spoken or written, so that they are aspirational, visionary and full of hope. Be real about the challenges and the call to serve Jesus sacrificially, but also be positive about the very many blessings that flow from being involved in Youth Ministry.
- Try Before You Buy
Some volunteers fear that if they agree to help they are ‘signing up for life’. Why not have an open evening, or an opportunity for people to come and have a go (still within Safeguarding good practice). Often people are surprised at how good it is to simply spend time with young people, and discover that they’re not just “not scary”, they’re probably nicer than adults!
Chad Chadwick – Peterborough Diocese Youth Missioner (June 2017)