Home > Leadership, Youth Ministry > How2: 5 Steps to Engage your Youth Council or Ministry Team

How2: 5 Steps to Engage your Youth Council or Ministry Team

As a young youth minister, one of my greatest challenges was knowing what to do with my youth council.  At the Center for Youth Ministry Training (CYMT), we experience this with all of our students.  Students and youth ministers often inherit dysfunctional youth councils or start one from scratch.  This post is about how to engage your youth council in your ministry.

Youth Councils or Youth Ministry Teams come in 3 main types:

  1. A group of adults appointed by the church to make sure you do your job (I mean help you do your job).
  2. A group of adults and youth who help make decisions about what the youth ministry should DO.
  3. Or if you are lucky a group of adults and possibly youth who partner with the youth minister to help the church’s vision for youth ministry become a reality.

I’m going to call it a Youth Ministry Team the rest of the blog.  Team implies we are all working together.  Council implies giving advice or talking about things.  Simply changing the name of your group does nothing.

Step 1: Understand You Need a Team

My biggest problem in my early years was I didn’t know what I was doing so telling my youth council what to do or asking for help simply didn’t happen.  I believed the youth ministry was my job.  So, I would come up with great ideas and sell them to the council for approval.

And this worked fine while my youth group was smaller, but as it grew I needed more help.  Many small church youth ministers continue to work this way.  What’s the problem?  Ownership!  Who will keep this program running when you leave?  When your ideas are gone?

I needed a team because the ministry was growing, but I needed to create a team so that the ministry would move forward when I was gone.  I needed to realize it wasn’t my ministry to begin with.

You need a team.  You and your team need to share a vision for where the youth ministry is headed.  You and your team need to share the responsibility for making that vision happen.

Step 2: Building Your Team

At my church, the nominating committee approves who serves on each team.  Left to their own accord, they will ask anyone who will say yes to serve on your council.  If you don’t get to create your own team, you need to be proactive and take to the nominating committee and your pastor a list of those who you would like to serve on your team.  They will be grateful for the help.  You may not get everyone you want, but if you give them enough people to choose from I’m confident you’ll get people on your list.

Who should you ask?  Ask people who believe in youth ministry who are DOERS!  These folks are likely to tell you they don’t want to be on a committee.   They don’t like simply giving their opinion or talking about things.  They like to get things done.  Great because you have more to do than you can by yourself.  You need a team to help you get things done.  Once you train them they’ll be perfect!

How big a group?  I personally think 4-6 doers in a 20-30 size youth group and going up from their but no more than 12.  I also believe that your youth ministry team is made up of adults with perhaps a couple of youth representatives.  I believe student leadership should happen in more hands on ways (blog post on this coming soon).

Step 3:  Define the Team’s Role

Before your first meeting, clearly define what the role of the youth ministry team is.  Create a youth ministry team member job description and covenant. Click here for some good articles from Jacob Fasig on Job Descriptions and Covenants. Here is a link to a sample:

If possible have these on hand when you ask someone to be on the team, or give them to the nominating committee so that they can share them with those they invite.

Your Team Job Descriptions should include things like:

  • Meeting Attendance Expectations
  • Praying for the Ministry
  • Telling One Positive Story a Week about the Ministry (see Re-culturing Your Church)
  • Serving as the Major Event Coordinator or Co-Coordinator during the upcoming year or serving in an ongoing volunteer role in the ministry
  • Being a Youth Ministry advocate to another Ministry Team on the Church – Finance, Trustees, Discipleship Team, etc.

Then at your first meeting use these documents to cast a vision for what you want the team to be and invite them to hold you accountable for keeping it that way (its easy to backslide into an advisory council).

Step 4:  Dream and Plan Together

If you are the only one who prays, dreams, and plans for God’s vision in the youth ministry, then you are the only one with true ownership.  Your team must be a part of this process as well (you should invite other key volunteers to participate also) so that there is wider ownership of the vision.

Set aside a large chunk of time to set your vision and goals for the ministry.  Then, have your regular meetings be about working on how they can help you accomplish it.

Step 5:  Empower Your Team

You’ve given them a team member job description that requires them to coordinate or co-coordinate a major event in your ministry.  Now, let them do it!  Decide early in the year what major event each member is going to work on.  What’s a major event?  Anything that saves you major time like:

  • Fundraisers
  • Organizing the Lockout Logistics
  • Retreat Logistics
  • Mission Trip Logistics
  • Fall Kickoff Logistics
  • Snack Supper Logistics

A post on the exponential benefits of major event coordinators is coming soon, but for now know that I mean you are to let them do it.  They don’t have free reign.  There task is to take the teams vision for each event and help to organize it.  Your job is to help them to do this which means that you’ll have to meet with them to help make decisions and at your meetings you should be checking in to see how progress is happening so that you can ensure that everything gets done.  With practice and permission, they’ll become better organizers than almost all of you are (excluding you A type personalities who need to learn to let go too!).

Remember anything they do will be something you do not have too.  If they cause, you more work than less then you didn’t recruit or equip them well for their task.

Empower them to live out the team covenant.  If 6-12 people are advocating youth ministry vocally in your congregation, you are sure to see significant results.  So, hold them accountable and allow them to hold you accountable as you ALL share the joyful responsibility (not burden) of youth ministry.

Growing Together:

What have you found effective when working with youth councils or teams?  Frustrating?  Don’t hesitate to ask for help.

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