Rethinking DIY Youth Ministry

By Frank Newburn September 27, 2016

Experience is an amazing, albeit challenging, teacher, and it has taught me much over these last 27 years in youth ministry. I now have a deeper understanding of the lessons I “learned” in college regarding healthy boundaries, working with parents, and balancing work and family, but one of my biggest areas of growth has been delegation. As a youth leader the ability to successfully delegate can be a game changer both for you and for those in your ministry. Here’s WHY and HOW:

Why we hesitate
Any number of reasons can keep us from handing off parts of our ministry. We feel guilty that we aren’t doing enough. We don’t want to burden others with what we feel are our responsibilities. We want to see a task or project accomplished a certain way and would rather take care of it ourselves. Our hesitations may be understandable, but it doesn’t follow that we’re meant to bear the weight of the ministry on our own.

Why we delegate
I don’t know about you, but I can’t physically do all the parts of my job. When I first started my job, I tried. I shouldered every email, budget, talk, and meeting, but I quickly found that this was unrealistic, unsustainable, and unhealthy. We cannot be everything to everyone or do it all ourselves; we may be good, but (spoiler alert!) no one is that good! As youth workers we need to give ourselves permission to rely on others. When we ask for help, we alleviate unnecessary stress, invite others into our ministry, and ensure that we can freely live into our unique strengths and gifts.

How we pass the baton
Once we recognize our need to delegate it becomes a matter of how. These are suggestions that I’ve found useful in my ministry.

  1. A) Teaching: Whether it’s in a large or small group setting, let some of your adult volunteers or even students do some of the teaching. Brainstorm topics with them, have them speak on what they’re passionate about, or team-teach with them. Walk with them through the process as they develop their lesson, and then be prepared to give feedback afterward.
  2. B) Mentoring: Mentoring is one of my passions and spiritual gifts, but I can’t mentor all of my students. Instead I’ve chosen to train up my adult volunteers as mentors. They connect with certain students that I don’t, and they extend the reach of our ministry.
  3. C) Fundraisers/Service Projects: Consider putting some of your adult volunteers or students in charge of your annual fundraiser or service project. Look for those volunteers who are great at organizing or your students that have a passion for service. Encourage them to think of new ideas; you might be surprised at the creative ideas they’ll come up with!

These three areas make for great starting points, but delegation shouldn’t stop here. Remember, delegation is not about lessening your workload; it’s about inviting others to use their gifts and passions to benefit the Kingdom of God and specifically your ministry. Each of us have adult volunteers and students with amazing talents, passions, and gifts that they are waiting to use, and we need to let them. Take one of these ideas for a test drive, and you might find that delegation is a game changer for you, too.

About the Author

Frank Newburn

Frank Newburn is a husband and father of three and currently serves as the Generations Pastor at Declaration Church in Spring, Texas. Before that Frank was the youth director for Wesley United Methodist Church in Bloomington, Illinois for 13 years. Frank has also worked for LeaderTreks as a Leadership Specialist and Trip Leader. His ministry…  Read More