If you have been a youth minister for more than 5 minutes you know that it takes team work. No one person can be at every function, be everything to every student, and single handily make every event happen. One of the greatest assests to ministers are a great committee. It can also be a source of great difficulty. For those very reasons we are spending March focusing on Youth Committees! Join us today as we jump in with……
“Why should you have a youth committee?”
Rev. Alice Cates serves as the Minister to Youth at Chester Baptist Church in Chester, VA (just south of Richmond). She earned her Master of Divinity degree from the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, her Master’s in Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University, her undergraduate degree in Theatre Arts from Campbell University, and was ordained to Christian Ministry at Biltmore Baptist Church in Glen Allen, VA. Alice greatly enjoys laughing out loud, preaching, spending time with her super rad niece and nephew, sunny days in the park, wrangling her bloodthirsty housecat Henrietta, and Netflixing.
In my experience, a youth team is an essential piece of a well-rounded and effective youth ministry. Here’s why
- Your youth team is your support squad. This team of invested parents, volunteers and youth has the important job of offering you much needed support. These are the folks who will celebrate with you all of the many exciting things and who will hold you up when things get really difficult. They will help you to get others in the church and in the youth group on board with your shenanigans and they will encourage you when you feel depleted. This does not mean that they will always agree with you. They are not a rubber stamp for your agenda! It does mean that they will listen to you, work with you, and pray for and with you and your ministries. A lot.
- Your youth team is your sounding board. They will listen to your crazy (sometimes downright ludicrous) ideas and will smile and nod while you get it all out onto the table. They will then help you fine tune. They will help you decipher the amazing ideas from the insanely terrible ones (and it is truly sometimes hard to see the difference). This trusted team will help you consider logistics and hurdles and possibilities that you hadn’t thought of. They can help you to dream big. They will debrief last week’s spaghetti dinner fundraiser to point out what went great and what to try differently next year. Your youth team is a safe place to be real about what worked what didn’t work; what ideas are worth spending time and money on and which ones are better left for another time. Priceless!
- Your youth team helps you keep it fresh. Especially when you include actual youth on your youth team. They will have no problem letting you know when things are starting to get stale. Whether you need a small change-up in the types of fellowship activities you’re doing, or you need to totally reconsider the format of your regular youth group meetings, this is team will keep it real. As new faces join the team, new ideas and fresh perspective come with them. Don’t take this for granted! Allow yourself to be renewed and refreshed as their ideas pour in!
- Your youth team offers accountability. There are two tiers to this one. First, working closely with a team of caring and committed lay leaders offers the valuable benefit of answering to folks who authentically care about the youth. When you start getting pulled in a million directions, they will remind you just by their mere presence that as the youth minister, the youth are your top priority. Second, they keep financial records accountable. For you and for the church. While it may sound like a drag, I am so thankful that a member of my team signs off on all of my expenditures. This doesn’t mean that I have to go and jump through a million hoops to spend any budget money. Not at all! The youth team has been in the know about all of the upcoming events and activities and they are happy to sign off on my credit card statements and what not. But this offers a valuable level of protection. No one can say that I’m just blowing money willy nilly; I have a team of lay leaders willing to literally sign their name on the line, right next to mine. If your church doesn’t require such checks and balances, talk to someone about setting up a system of accountability asap!
Now, go get yourself a youth team!
Jeremy Colliver is the Minister to Families with Youth at Smoke Rise Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, GA. He is a native of Lexington, KY and received his B.S. in Accounting from Georgetown College and his Master of Divinty from the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky. Jeremy has a passion for helping students to experience God daily, discover their spiritual gifts, and empower students to use those gifts. Jeremy and Laura have two great kids, Blaine and Molly Frances. They love to be outside exploring the world that is around them.
Committee work. It is the number one reason that we all signed up to do ministry work, right? It fills us with energy planning for them and running them, not to mention everything that you get to do that came out of the meeting.
I really can’t even write that with a straight face, but I’m not being completely insincere either. Committees aren’t the number one reason I continue to do ministry, and there are times when they can seem like work, but I have also found that they enhance ministry as well. Here are three ways that I have found that committees have been life giving to me:
Committees provide other points of view. It would be easy to stack your committee with people that think like you and act like you, but the ministry would begin to mirror you. Our goal in ministry is not to create a bunch of replicas of ourselves to send out into the world. My goal, at least, is to help students discover their life in Christ and give them the space to live this out. Have people on your committee that are representative of the congregation you serve and then challenge them to be the biggest cheerleader of the youth to the church. They can be your mouth piece for what the youth are doing and also let you know the perception of what the church body thinks of the youth. They will also help you see the blind spots you have that will help you become a better minister and have a better ministry.
Committees allow others to be equipped for ministry. Ask the committee members why they want to serve on this committee. Better yet, as you are searching for people to serve on the youth committee, ask them why they want to serve. Most often you will find that they want to serve on the committee because they want to serve the youth. They won’t want to be the person in charge, but they want to see youth succeed. Take advantage of this and allow those people on the committee to use their gifts. Learn from them how and why they do what they do best, and allow that to shape and form you. I want to provide space for students to grow into and use their gifts so why not provide the same opportunities for committee members to do the same. As you make room for others to use their gifts you will find you will have more time and space to build relationships with the students. You will also find that you won’t feel as burned out because some of the burdens you carry will be passed on to others.
Committees provide a layer of protection for you. Let’s be honest, there will be times when people aren’t happy with you or something that has happened in the youth ministry. Your committee members and the nature of committees themselves should help protect you from what can be potentially harmful situations. If your committee members are representative of the congregation and are your advocates and cheerleaders, they will help calm the storm. Committees are also the place where policies are created. Policies that are created by a group that has thought through a situation the best it can. Policies that are put into place to help facilitate the ministry. Policies that can be re-evaluated if they didn’t work in a particular circumstance that may have caused some unhappiness. Committees can also protect you with it’s institutional history. They can look back and remember why something didn’t work and help you miss the pitfall before it even happens.
Committees aren’t the number one reason that we do ministry, but they can enhance the ministry that we have with the youth.