What to Do When Your Youth Ministry Reaches 25
The youth ministry that you led with 10 students is very different than the ministry you’ll lead with 25 students.
When you have 10 students you can almost do everything. You can run the games, you can do the teaching, and you can counsel students that need it. You can even run the snack shack when it’s needed.
“The very actions that made you successful with 10 students may actually hurt your ministry of 25.”
But if you try to do the same thing with 25 students, you’re in for a rude awakening. The very actions that made you successful with 10 students may actually hurt your ministry of 25.
So what changes do you need to make when your youth ministry reaches 25 students?
Step 1: Grow your volunteer team (and train them!)
First things first, you’ll need to grow your adult volunteer team. Growing an adult volunteer team is different from getting a few volunteers to help you. You’re not just looking for people to do a few things to help you get by; you’re looking for people that will build deep and transformational relationships with students.
There are lots of folks that will cook burgers, flip pancakes, and drive the church van, but it takes another level of commitment to dive into students’ lives and walk the discipleship road with them. And most adults will need to be trained to fill the roles of discipler or mentor.
So before you head out to recruit, start making your training plan. The best way to do this is to (1) create a list of volunteer roles, (2) write a job description that outlines their responsibilities, (3) and determine three skills that they’ll need to fulfill that role. The three skills then become the basis of your training plan. It should be your goal to train these new adult volunteers to work in the youth ministry using these three skills. Remember, just because an adult wants to work with students doesn’t mean they know how to build a relationship, teach God’s word or help students make life applications.
Step 2: Delegate (Don’t try to do everything yourself)
Second, you’ll need to resist the temptation to do everything yourself. Delegation is one of those words that sound so great, like our own youth ministry silver bullet guaranteed to save time and alleviate stress. But I find that most leaders don’t know how to delegate. I see most leaders do their work while others stand around watching, and they can’t figure out why they’re not getting the help that they need. This lack of delegation leads to some very overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted youth workers.
Delegation starts with coming up with the plan of which responsibilities you want to give away. To do this right you need to look at your team and identify their spiritual gifts and their passions. Then you can allow them to lead or have ownership in the areas that they care most about. In these areas they will do their very best work.
At LeaderTreks we’ve created a tool called the Sweet Spot. It’s a collection of three assessments designed to help you identify your volunteers’ passions, burdens, and heart for impact. This tool can be a big help to you in the delegation process.
If delegation is a struggle for you, if you find that you’ve given away leadership but you’re still doing the job, then get a leadership coach that can help you through this. You’ll never be able to grow your ministry to its full potential unless you’re able to delegate.
Step 3: Less is more
Third, as your ministry grows, it will be critical to prioritize quality over quantity. When you have a small group of students, it’s easy to do lots of high-quality activities. But when your group gets larger, you’ll find that you need to do a smaller number of activities in order to maintain the same level of quality.
This can be hard when so many of us like to do what we did last year. But here’s an area where we need to be disciplined. It’s best to pick your most impactful activities and focus on making them really great.
Step 4: Communicate Consistently to Parents
Fourth, you’ll need to keep communication with parents consistent. More students mean more parents, and more parents mean more questions. Don’t be surprised when you find yourself in need of additional structure or technology to supplement your original plan for parent communication. You might need to utilize Facebook, a texting service, or even a church planning software in ways that weren’t necessary when the group was smaller. When your communication to parents is consistent, they’ll not only support the ministry, they’ll share with others the importance of their students being there.
Step 5: Increase Communication with Church Leadership
Fifth, you’ll also need to communicate more with church leadership. Think through the demand of a larger group on the church facility. You’re going to need more space. You’re going to mess up more bathrooms. And you’re going to require a budget that meets the needs of your growing ministry. Communicating that numbers are up is always going to get you a positive response, but make sure you don’t stop there. Get specific with church leadership about what that growth means and the impact that the ministry is having.
Your group is growing. Praise the Lord! Just remember that growing ministries require change. This change will be hard, but if you embrace the change rather than resist it, your ministry is all the more likely to reach its potential.
About the Author
Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners who never leave their side. Doug grew up in… Read More