Really enjoyed Benjer McVeigh’s post on the 5 things you should want in any youth ministry when you strip everything else away – some really good stuff in there. Here’s a clip of it, head there for the rest:

1. A great marriage. One of the biggest strengths for me in ministry is my wife, Jennifer. She’s an amazing encouragement, and when I give her, our marriage, and our family the time and energy they deserve, ministry just seems to go a lot smoother.

2. A passionate, visionary senior pastor who is passionate about people knowing Jesus. Thankfully, this one is true for me where I am right now. A lot of youth pastors wish their senior pastor would support them and the youth ministry more. Those are probably good things, but I think it simply starts with a senior pastor who is passionate about people knowing Jesus, which helps determine the direction of his/her church’s youth ministry.

3. A core group of parents who believe that they should be the primary disciplers of their children. Look, we know that this is how it’s supposed to work: parents should be the primary disciplers of their children, including their teenagers. A group of parents who were passionate about this would be a huge asset in helping other parents grow in this area. Of course, not all parents will want to disciple their kids–or will even have a relationship with Jesus for that matter. But it doesn’t mean we don’t set it up as the ideal.

JG

From time to time I post a question that comes into the blog for YOU to answer. What advice would you give this youth pastor’s wife in this time of crisis:

We’ve been at this church for a year – already longer than the last 2 youth workers! We started with about a dozen kids and now we have almost triple that on Sunday mornings (more evangelistic) and a solid 15 or so during a midweek program (more discipleship). Here’s the problem: our senior pastor just cancelled the Sunday program so we are basically back where we started. We’ve literally cried about this, and was wondering if you had an insight on where we should go from here. Help!

So … your turn. What should they do?

JG



This post from last week got a fair amount of traffic/energy from some youth workers, so thought I would base this week’s poll on the same question: if you weren’t a youth worker at your current church, would you attend there?

JG

I’ve spent 12 years serving as a staff pastor at two different churches. Both experiences have been unique, positive, and challenging. I don’t plan on ever being a lead pastor, so I’ll spend my entire career serving on a staff rather than leading one.

If you are a staff pastor, no job is ever 100% secure. Things happen, economy has its ups and downs but there are four strategic things you can do to make yourself an indispensable staff pastor.

1. Find the most important objective your pastor wants to accomplish and put yourself in the middle of it.

–Volunteer to lead a task force to accomplish the objective.

–Be a good listener. For instance, if you hear frustration from him on why the church has a low retention rate for visitors, make note of it and take initiative to help craft a solution.

2. Make strategic connections for your pastor.

–Make sure these relationships are life-giving and not things that give him more work.

–Make sure they are strategic and contribute to accomplishing his present objectives or future dreams.

3. Bring more solutions than problems.

–When you see a problem, it’s tempting to let your pastor know right away about it. Instead, stop and brainstorm solutions. When you tell him the problem, offer several ideas to solve the problem. And when you offer your ideas, volunteer to be a part of the solutions.

4. Think team, not silo.

–Don’t always talk about your needs or your budget. Instead, offer to sacrifice for other team members or departments. Find ways you can show your ministry is not singular in focus but recognizes it’s part of the whole. For example, your youth leadership team can volunteer to do all the set-up for a children’s ministry event.

–Offer to evaluate other ministries. If you’re a respected youth pastor with good relationships with other staff members, volunteer to spend one Sunday a quarter going to the kids’ church and give tips on making it a better experience.

We don’t become indispensable by jockeying for power or claiming our rights, but by humbly and intentionally serving our pastor and our team.

Justin Lathrop is a youth worker and the founder of Help Staff Me. In January 2011 Help Staff Me and Vanderbloemen Search Group united in an effort to serve the church with all their staffing needs. Whether it is a Jr. High pastor or a Lead Pastor we are equipped to meet your staffing needs.



Was reading an interesting book this week – it said that 90% of employees put themselves in the top 10% of performers in any particular company. Made me realize just how bad we are at rating ourselves. So … as honest as you can be, how would your senior pastor / supervisor rate your general performance right now on a scale from 1-10?

JG

There are all sorts of bad reasons churches let youth workers go – but there are some legitimately good ones as well. Here’s a few things that I think over time will cause youth workers to be shown the door, and some cautions before pulling the trigger on one of them if you’re the boss:

Incompetence - sometimes, it just doesn’t work out – the person you thought had the skills to do this job simply doesn’t. They were a great interview and not so great in the real world. Somewhere in the process the ball was dropped, and it is your fault. Be slow with this one, perhaps the learning curve is just steep, or it is The Dip before things get awesome. And please be a teaching/training church! If someone doesn’t have the skills, help them develop them on the job! Send them to a conference, a training event or build out their library. Even if things eventually don’t work out, you’ve made them MUCH more equipped for God’s work in the future.

“Fit” – this one is tough, because it can quickly become a catch all for whatever whim someone has that day. But there is something to be said for a genuine “fit” argument. I’d encourage you to investigate if you are a fit before you ever sign on. Maybe there’s something you need to change as the supervisor, or a particular reason/pattern why people are not fitting into your staff culture. You need to infinitely know your culture before you bring them on. I believe that having to let someone go because of fit is the church’s fault, despite it being incredibly hard/almost impossible to truly know a candidate after just 1-2 meetings or calls.

Character Issue – if the youth pastor has a character issue that cannot be addressed effectively and appropriately while they remain in a position of leadership, they need to be removed and take that season to concentrate on their personal life. Youth workers are not without sin, so please don’t be hunting for them to make a mistake so you can kick them in the butt on the way out. In fact, a great church would be prepared for their pastors to be imperfect, instead of being surprised or shocked by it. Be prepared to coach/counsel spiritual health in the youth worker on your staff.

Insubordination – the youth pastor is not the leader of the church. He/she is under the authority, vision and leadership of their supervisor/senior pastor. They must be willing to follow and lead from the position God has entrusted to them. When that doesn’t happen – there’s bound to be conflict and rarely does the person in 2nd place win. As an employer, make sure you’re not wrongfully identifying passion or naivety as insubordination. Please be genuinely open to new ideas and ways of doing things. But if there’s no resolution, they might have to be let go.

Divisive – I think this one is a lot like insubordination, but instead of directly to a boss/supervisor, it is within the staff or church body. There is nothing worse than a divisive person, unless it is a divisive pastor on the team. Again, be slow to jump to conclusions, quick to correct and coach before doing something drastic.

Here’s the crazy thing – I think that I could have been fired (or still could be, hey) for almost any of these today!

I still don’t always “fit”, I still sin and make mistakes, I sometimes err toward being divisive and do my own thing instead of listening to my manager’s direction. If you’re genuinely going to let a youth worker in your church go … please pray intensely about it. Make sure you’ve done everything you can to coach them toward health. Take a long look at yourself, your church and the host of outside factors that have led you to this moment of decision. Try to be impartial, maybe even consider a 3rd party or mediator.

And above all, if it has to happen … be graceful. God isn’t quite finished with them just yet.

Are there other good reasons to let a youth worker go? Or maybe give another caution in the comments, too!

JG



Yesterday, Josh talked about The 3 Best Gifts a Senior Pastor Can Give Their Youth Pastor. But what about youth pastors? What are the 3 best gifts we could give back? For me, it would NOT be an iPad since my pastor probably would not know what to use it for …

After reading the post from yesterday, I realized that the 3 best gifts I could give my pastor were similar to what Josh blogged about. It’s also important to understand that when we choose to give these gifts, we ultimately benefit:

TRUST
Just as I desire to be given ownership to lead the student ministry effectively, it’s important to realize that I have been called by God to lead students, not the whole church. The gift of trust can be given when I learn to effectively “lead up” and support the vision and direction of my senior pastor. It’s more likely that I will be given greater ownership and trust when I lead with trust.

LOYALTY
Loyalty equals longevity for both of us. Just as I need faithful support to hang in for the long haul, I can’t forget that my pastor needs support as well. When he knows I’ve got his back, he’s more likely to have mine. My loyal support of my pastor can lead to greater longevity for both of us. After all, to a good degree, he is my meal ticket.

BE A GOOD STEWARD
Want a good budget? Be a good steward… I have found that a good budget comes with trust that ministry dollars are being used effectively and diligently. With this comes a good communication for needs that exist as well as continuous vision casting for the student ministry.

Over the long haul I have found that when I give these gifts, I often receive so much more back, which ultimately is a win for my ministry and for my family. Even if we are in situations where the gifts are not reciprocated, it’s imperative that we choose to be gift givers…

What’s another great gift you could give your Senior Pastor?

Phil Bell is the Pastor of High School and College Ministries at Community Bible Church. He Twitters and Tumblrs.

I was asked by a friend recently what three gifts any youth pastor would want from their senior pastor. First of all, I thought, “Huh, I just had Christmas and a birthday and I didn’t get ANYTHING from Pastor Rick.” Then I remembered I didn’t get him anything either, or have any idea when his birthday even was in the first place. Yikes.

After that little rabbit trail, I thought about how good of a question it was, and that I should blog about my responses and ask you to weigh in as well. If my senior pastor could give me 3 things (and it wasn’t something like an iPad, because I’d gladly take that, too) I would want these:

TRUST
More than anything else, I want to be given the leadership of the ministry. I want to be trusted with the vision and decisions of the ministry. I want a senior pastor who believes in me and trusts me to follow God’s Spirit and his/her leadership in accomplishing that vision.

LOYALTY
Loyalty equals longevity. If you want me to stay in the trenches for the long run, stick with me. I’ll probably need your defense (hey, I’m a youth worker) and covet your partnership and friendship in the heat of the spiritual battle. A quick way to run a youth pastor out of town is to be disloyal.

BUDGET
I hesitate to put this one out there on the list – but it is a HUGE gift to be well-taken care of as a pastor/family and a HUGE gift to have money for scholarships and programming. I put it last for a reason, but also included it for a reason, too. Take care of your people and they will take care of your people.

My hope is that you as a youth worker read this, nod your head and add another “gift” in the comments. That way, when your senior pastor Googles their way to this post, they’ll have lots of ideas and put one or two of them into practice.

What is another amazing gift a senior pastor can give their youth worker?

JG