Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Bottleneck of Student Ministry

I have been blessed to be part of a church with a heart to serve.  Our church culture is geared towards ministry.  Over eighty percent of our church members serve on a ministry team.  This didn’t happen overnight but has become part of who we are and all new members know that to serve is an expectation of our members.

Recently I took some vacation time.  I mostly hung out around home but did take a few day road trip with my family during the holiday weekend.  

A few awesome events happened while I was on vacation:

Sunday night Student Church continued.  Serving with me in Student Ministry is an awesome team of volunteers who have committed to be there every Sunday night investing into the lives of our middle and high school students.  When I take vacation our Student Church keeps truckin.  When I’m sick (only twice in 15 years thank God) Student Church keeps truckin.  Last year when I had my sabbatical Student Church did not miss a beat.

On a Saturday night during my vacation our ladies who work with our middle school girls pulled the girls together for a fun night of watching Disney Princess movies and eating pizza and junk food.  A time to hang out, have fun and build relationships.  This was totally planned and carried out by our volunteers.  I had zero to do with it other than putting it on the church calendar when they asked me to. 

The next Saturday night two of our volunteers took some high school boys on a road trip to watch a hockey game.  These guys all hung out together in a van, around the dinner table and in the stands all evening.  Building relationships is key to ministry.  You can serve and when you minister to someone it means a lot to them but when you serve someone whom you have built a relationship with it takes ministry to a whole new level.  This was totally planned and carried out by a couple of volunteers,  I had zero to do with it other than put it on the calendar.  If fact it started out to be a camping trip but due to a holiday weekend and camp sites were full the two leaders improvised and adapted.

The point is this:  Sometimes we, the paid staff youth minister, are the bottleneck that keeps ministry from happening within our student ministries. 

We need to:

1.  Build a team of volunteers.  Invest in them. Train them.  Trust them.

2.  Give our volunteers the lattitude to plan events with the students.
3.  Turn them loose to be ministers and move away from the “chaperone” mentality.
4.  Let go of our ego.  We should be focusing on equipping the saints for ministry.
5.  Pat them on the back and encourage them when they plan and pull off a ministry event without your help or involvement.
6.  Don’t cancel your youth gathering because you are on vacation or sick.  Let your leaders handle it.
7.  Understand that this can free us up to do what we do best and are passionate about.

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