Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Make Church Work More Fun – #1 Give them a Brick

March 24, 2011 8 comments

My wife used to work in the marketing department for a large construction company.  This company did a great job of celebrating and affirming people and therefore people liked working there!  The church on the other hand stinks at celebration and affirmation of staff and volunteers.  I am regularly appalled at how we treat people who have given years of there lives in service to the church when they retire or leave the staff.  We do not publicly affirm volunteers who gave tirelessly in efforts to do incredible things for the kingdom.

So how can we create an environment of celebration?  Well, here is what the construction company did.  Anytime, you felt someone had done outstanding work, gone the extra mile, or had surprising results, you gave them a brick.  It was a virtual brick that you sent by email affirming that persons work, but everyone in the company got a copy of it so that all could affirm them.  One of the staff members kept track of the number of bricks someone earned and they could be turned in for gift certificates to go to lunch extra.  I must say that I loved it.  It created the space for people to affirm each other and celebrate success and rewarded them for it.

Why don’t we celebrate and affirm each other more in the church?  We have not created an environment of affirmation and celebration.  Youth ministers can make working at the church more fun by doing this!  There is no reason that you can’t send out an email letting affirming and celebrating others.  You may be able to talk your pastor into making it some kind of official celebration thing like the bricks.  One pastor, I worked for went for giving them a “hand.”  You sent an email out when you wanted to give someone a “hand” for doing a great job.  It was cheesy, but worked.  It encouraged everyone to get out of their silos and take notice of what each other was doing.

Take the responsibility for building into your staff meetings a time of celebration.  By celebrating others, you will be affirming their call and hard work.  You might even get affirmed and celebrated in return.

What are other ways of creating celebration and affirmation on church staffs?


How2: 4 Essentials to effective Student Leadership

October 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Student leadership is a challenging part of youth ministry.  Many churches regulate leadership to decision making or simply service.  Youth serve on a council (see post on 5 Steps to Engage your Youth Ministry Team) and give their input into trips or special events.  At other churches, the leaders serve by helping pick up chairs or greeting folks at the door.  I learned the hard way that Student leadership is about leading youth to be leaders.  Leadership development takes time and energy which is why most churches don’t do it well.  Student Leadership is essential to developing a healthy youth ministry program that allows students to continue to grow in their faith.

Essential 1: Create Space

This step is probably the most challenging.  Leadership development takes time and investment on your or a volunteers part.  Adding one more thing to do to your task list will make Student Leadership a failure.  If you read my post about Major Event Coordinators and how they save you time know that student leadership that is the opposite.  It takes time.  It takes discipleship.  Therefore, you must carve out time be letting some things go (using Major Event Coordinators) is one way to get some more time.

The second way that you need to create space is for students to lead.  Before inviting youth to lead, you need to have a good idea(s) for how you will allow them to lead.  The best ways for students to participate is to serve out of their gifts.  Here are a suggestions and warnings:

Not too Big and Not to Small

Student leaders need to serve in areas where they are capable.  If the task takes more time and preparations then they have it will not work.  If they feel like they are going to fail, it won’t work.  It doesn’t mean that leadership should not stretch them, because it should.  On the same note, if what they are asked to do is too small then they quickly will become disenfranchised with being a leader.

Makes a Difference in the Ministry

Whatever your student leaders do it needs to add value to the ministry.  They should walk away knowing that their contribution made the ministry stronger.  If you simply use student leaders to  do things that are not necessary for the ministry, they will recognize that you are truly allowing them to lead and they’ll quit.  Create space for them to lead!

Essential 2: Inviting and Listen to Them

Next you need to invite them.  I recommend identifying leaders and then helping them discern how they can best be a leader in the group.  I also feel it is important to have an open invitation, because there are youth who want to lead that might not be obvious leaders to you.  I’m always surprised and often the most blessed by those I didn’t expect.

When you meet with the potential student leaders, you should have some ideas for how they might lead; but don’t box them in.  Listen to their hopes and dreams for the ministry.  Consider how you might make space for them to do something they are feeling called to do.   As youth grow in their leadership, they will begin to suggest other ways they can serve.  Your job becomes helping equip them and supporting them through their successes and failures (yes, its ok to let them fail).

Essential 3: Equip Them

What do they need to know to do what you have asked them to do?  Are they going to greet folks at the door?  Work them to develop a system and ideas for how to best welcome people and connect visitors.  Are they going to read scripture in worship or at youth group?  Practice with them so they can excel at the task.  If they are running your Powerpoint, make sure they have access to the computer and files and tools.  If they are going to lead a small group, provide regular training and support just like you do (or should) with your adult leaders.

Essential 4: Let Them

Sometimes they will exceed your expectations and other times they will fail, but that’s how they learn.  Treat them as Jesus did the disciples – spend time with t hem, teach them, model for them, and empower them to change the world.

All of these steps are essential for student leadership excess.  My experience says its messy, but totally worth it.  If they truly are the church of today, then let them be and lead the church.

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

October 4, 2010 6 comments

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.

Leadership 101: Support Your Pastor

September 15, 2010 1 comment

When I was younger, I would sometimes get confused about who was in charge of the church.  I seemed to be the only one who knew the church had problems and if a few others knew…well, I knew how to solve the problem.  It was a lot like going through adolescence with my parents.

One of our jobs is to support our pastor.  He or she may not be the Rob Bell or Adam Hamilton (and if we worked for them they would have issues too), but it does not matter.  God and the Body of Christ have placed them at the head of your church, not you.  Here are some simply ways to support your pastor:


If you don’t pray for your pastor daily, I have to ask why not.  They are in a position of great influence and responsibility.  Pray for them to have a discerning heart, a vision for the future, and strength to lead.  Pray for their family and for their spouse.  Pray for them the way you hope they pray for you!

Lift Up

As a staff member, you will be asked what you think about the pastor regularly.  Will you lift them up or tear them down?  Save your criticism for the safety of your covenant group or spouse.  When you are with the congregates, your job is to lift up the pastor, to help them see strengths they may not, and to support their vision for the church.  If you do not, then you need to consider whether you can work for that person.


Get to know your pastor.  Ask questions about their life, family, etc.  Don’t only talk to them about work.  Very few people treat pastors like they are people with lives outside of church.  You know how that feels so take the time to care.


There are a ton of reasons for you to communicate what is going on in the youth ministry to your pastor.  The most important is that ultimately they are responsible for the youth ministry.  Really?  Yes, really.  Where does the congregation go if they have issues with you.  You got it.

So part of supporting your pastor is keeping them in the loop with what is happening in the youth ministry.  I recommend that at least once a month you go to lunch one-on-one with your pastor to get to know each other better and to keep them informed.

If you support them, then they should support you too.  Thanks to Mark Matheny, Jim Glass, David Comperry, James King, Howard Olds, and now Cliff Wright for supporting me.

Growing Together

How do you view your role as it relates to your pastor?  Share other ideas how we can support our pastors.