Thursday, September 18, 2014

Slow Changing View

We had a great youth ministry team with about 8 caring adults and myself.  Each adult had a small group of students to minister to.

One night an incident happened and a young student (student A) needed some ministering to.  A group of adults, as well as that student’s small group leader, stepped in to comfort the student. 
I didn’t step in to comfort for two reasons: 
One I’m not a comforting individual.  Just look at me do I look like I bring comfort?  (see picture to right)
Two I was at the same time dealing with a student (student B) who was trying to figure out how to get home but actually a different place to go home because that student’s dad was drunk and apparently rather mean while intoxicated.

I was verbally attacked and raked over the coals for not bringing comfort to student A by student A’s parents.  They were upset at the situation that went down as I would have been as a dad if it were my kid.  The view was “Andy’s the youth minister.”  All the comfort given by the other youth ministers and adults in the church wasn’t viewed as student A being ministered to. 

When you begin to build a youth ministry team, a group of adults who will minister to the students, it may take time for the church to come around to the view that you are just one of the youth ministers.  Why?  Because my best guess is that many Americans, if not most, who grew up in church were taught that the minister was the guy standing up front preaching each Sunday, everyone else were just members.

The view for some (many) may be slow to change.  After years of taking a team approach to youth ministry here is what I see happening in our church:

  • Students view the adult leader that leads their group as their youth minister.  They go to their leaders for prayer, questions, advice.  It doesn’t all have to go through me.

  • Parents are starting to view the adult volunteers as their kids’ youth ministers.  Even talking with them and sharing together about their child.  The more a leader invests into the life of a student the more a parent will lean on them in teaming up to disciple their kid.

  • Volunteer leaders are stepping up to the plate and raising the standard in ministry.  The result is longevity on the team (every wise youth pastor wants their team members to stick around a long time).  Volunteers are also finding fulfillment and joy living out their spiritual shape and ministering to students.

  • I’m not trying to shepherd X amount of students.  My goal is to shepherd the team of adults and to help steer the ship.  I’m finding joy in watching students go to their leaders for prayer, advice, questions, etc.  Better and safer to have many shepherds than just one.

So if you are building a team just keep plugging away.  It may take time but eventually, if done right the view will change and it will go from “you are the youth minister” to “they are the youth ministers”.

By the way, our youth ministry team is made up entirely of volunteers and they rock!

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