You survived the interview process, you moved to your new church, you are still unpacking boxes at home. You have sat in your nice new office and asked, “Now what?”. What is next for you? What if you arrive to a student ministry that already has an existing team of volunteers? Great!! What a blessing and what a place to find yourself in! Now it’s time to work with this team. If there is anything I have learned over the years about teamwork is that teamwork takes work.
Get to know them.
Spend some time with the team. Create some space and time for your team to get together and just have fun. Building relationships takes time but I have found that having fun together is a great way to start off a relationship.
Spend some time with each team member individually. You may meet them for coffee, lunch, have their family over to dinner. Ask questions that will help you come to know them and understand their personality, their passions, what they view as priority in ministry.
Most of us who find ourselves in the position of youth pastor have the same gift as senior pastors, the gift of gab. We like to talk and some even like to hear themselves talk. We can’t get to know others if our voice is the only voice being heard. Focus on listening. Ask the questions about the past, ask about their dreams for the future of the student ministry. Listening shows that you truly do care about their opinions. It may not mean you are going to act on all of their suggestions but at least you will listen and weigh out what they have to say.
Pray together as a team. Pray for each other. Know their prayer needs. Pray for them individually both in your own personal quiet time and when opportunity arises to pray with them.
Prayer can bring your together in unity like nothing else can. Don’t get caught up in praying for Bill’s Aunt Ethel’s toe injury. Focus on spiritual needs as individuals as well as what you feel you need to pray for the youth group.
Share the why.
Sometimes people struggle the most with change if they don’t know the “why” behind the change. Your arrival represents a certain amount of change. This team may have had a rough experience under the previous leadership. This team may be tired having carried the load of ministry without a leader for months or even years. This team may have been functioning great without a leader.
There is so much potential for damage if the new youth pastor arrives on the scene and immediately starts changing things. When change has to happen make sure to have the meeting before the meeting. Sit down with the team and explain the coming change and why the change is going to take place. Listen to their input and possible fears about the change. Hopefully if we communicate the “why” behind the change the team will understand and follow and support the change.
I know I mentioned this earlier but get together and have some fun. When was the last time you took the student ministry team bowling without any students? When did your team get together at someone’s house for a game night? When did you eat pizza together because you didn’t have to? (the good pizza, not the single topping or just cheese) Party together. If you spot someone on the team who has a nack for organizing fun fellowship get together with that person and brainstorm on some fun your team could have together.
Love your team! They are your biggest supporters and your best backers. They will gladly dive in the trenches and serve with you when they know you genuinely love them.