I was blessed to begin my involvement in youth ministry in a healthy church with a healthy youth ministry and youth ministry team. This environment helped to fuel, in me, a great appreciation for team ministry.
Consequently, as a youth pastor, I have always been aware that doing ministry with others, whether it be one other person or a large group of leaders, is the safest and most effective way to do ministry and, more critically, the Biblical way.
Now I am very aware that in our Baptist churches we have a diversity of theological conviction and ministry practice. In addition, we have a variety of youth ministry sizes, but no matter the context, youth ministry with others is a must!
When you hold to these beliefs as I do, the result will more than likely be that you run into difficulties with others on your team. These difficulties can include alignment of the youth ministry values, understandings of best practise and safe spaces, doctrinal differences, the importance of training, dates for meetings, the significance of community, and even personality clashes.
You can find yourself thinking, “It would be far easier to work with people who believe the exact same thing as I do and who have the exact same personality as me.”
I remember sharing my frustrations, regarding a youth leader, with a colleague a number of years ago and his response was not what I had expected. I was venting about a disagreement we were having and what I wanted was some sympathy. Instead, what I received was a gentle rebuke. He responded with “You don’t want a team of people who are always on the same page as you, if they were, you’d only ever do the things that you thought were good ideas.”
He was right.
If everyone I work with in youth ministry simply said yes to everything I suggested, everything I thought, everything I believed, then the youth ministry would be very unbalanced. The youth would miss out on the health that comes from team leaders who are unique in their thinking, but united under a common vision.
Further to this, if a youth ministry team is made up completely of people who like the same music, wear the same clothes, are the same age, same backgrounds, have the same interests and the same personalities, the youth ministry is only going to be effective in ministering to a very small and specific group of teenagers.
As you think about the people involved in the youth ministry in your church, what picture comes to mind? Is the team all the same? Where are the opportunities for diversity to be developed?
It is through the building of a diverse team of leaders that we not only develop healthy and effective youth ministry, but in so doing we reflect the very nature of the Kingdom of God – a place for every tribe, tongue and nation.