football2

It’s football season! It’s on everyone’s mind and so it’s an analogy I like to use when it comes to working with our support team in ministry.  Imagine your team has shown up for their first game.  So you, the Coach says,  “Alright, the goal today is to make a touch down.   Get the ball from the other team and meet me in end zone as quickly as you can.”    You take your place on the sidelines, while everyone else looks confused.   “What game is this again?”  One asks.  “We are wearing yellow and they are wearing red, does that matter?”  Another chimes in.   “Do I knock people down if they get in the way?” The questions keep coming.

Those of us who are the “leader” are usually in the game because it is intuitive. For the rest of our “team” this is not always true. We aren’t just there to coach the students, and sometimes we forget.  That is why position, processes, and practice are vital to your volunteers.

  • Position:

Not everyone wants to teach a Bible study.  There are those that are relational, some are administrative,  others like to organize details or make meals.  Yes, yes and yes as far as who is needed.   We have a tendency to merely look at the position and take the first warm body that comes along.  This will not always beneficial. Leadertreks (leadertreks.com)  has some amazing tools that help you take a different look at placement.  My favorite tool in this area is the “Sweet Spot,” assessment.  This takes less than 5 minutes for a potential volunteer to fill out.  It helps them see where they should serve,  who the students that they are most comfortable with and where they feel they will be most useful.  When we put people in the right position then it helps the team to work towards the common goal.

  • Process:

Job descriptions are step one.  It details exactly what and who you are looking for.  Over communicating expectations is step two.   Processes help everyone to know they are on the same team, on the same field, at the same time.

  •  Practice:

Your team understands who they are and what is expected of them.  Still they want to know HOW to play.  This is where training is indispensible.   This can come in many forms.  Try having quick debriefs on youth meetings. I follow a method I learned from Doug Franklin.  The “3’s”.   3 things that went well.  3 Challenges.  3 Action steps to work on the challenges.    Once a quarter try offering a deep evening training on a practical “how to” that the team has been asking about. .  Send out an article or web link that I think might be helpful as you come across it. Obviously, there are so many ideas of ways that you can train people.  If you are reading this site you are a learner yourself. Make the time and the expectations on everyone that this is a “must” that helps them with all that they do.

These are some of the elements that help build a stronger team,  heading to the same  goal.    It can be easy to think,  “of course we all want to win together.”  Any good football team knows that position, process and practice is what takes you to the super bowl.  In this case it is producing a generation that takes over our job…

What are you doing for your “team” to teach them the game?

Leadership continues to be one of the hot topics in the church today. Now more than ever before we are seeing books, seminars and coaching sessions revolving around leadership. My hope of writing this series of blog posts isn’t to bring anything new to the table; rather I want to share with you what in my opinion are four non-negotiable aspects of Christian leadership.

Have you ever tried to lead without a team? How did it go for you?

I am slowly learning over time about team building and team management. I have had two scenarios of leadership that have taught me the hard way a lesson I should have picked up on simply by following the example of Jesus.

My first hard lesson came when I worked at a summer camp in a leadership position. I wasn’t in charge of building a team, rather training them and working alongside the leadership team. My failure came in the form of not training people to do tasks I could do more easily by myself.

The second lesson came while working in my current church. I work in a midsized Canadian church and struggled for a long time with building a team. I procrastinated and it backfired. As a result of my failure to build a team I dealt with a period of decline in attendance and struggles of being overwhelmed with my workload.

I believe that we learn from the example of Jesus when it comes to team management. The first lesson we can learn simply is that we need a team. One of the first things Jesus did during his ministry was to gather his disciples. In the first chapter of Mark we see Jesus beginning his ministry by sharing the Gospel, and while walking along he sees Simon and Andrew and says to them “Come, follow me… and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mark 1: 16,17). In addition to these twelve He also called an additional 72 to go and prepare the way for His coming. (Luke 10:1) Not only does Jesus appoint people to a place on His leadership team, He also takes the time to empower them. “And He called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.” (Matthew 10:1) A key skill as a leader is to find a team and surround oneself with them. Once a good leader has found a team they will equip and train these new leaders with the skills to carry out the necessary tasks at hand.

How do you build and empower your team?

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle



article.2013.01.16Yesterday we talked about gossip and how destructive it can be within the church culture, and devastating to those outside the church walls. So let’s fight back! The best way to stop gossip is right where it starts – with your team and with the people you influence. Here are a few things we’ve learned about how to create unity and continue the uphill battle against gossip.

People who are informed are less likely to gossip.
Oftentimes ignorance can create a breeding ground for gossip. When you keep people in the dark, sometimes their mind plays tricks on them. They read into a situation or conversation, and the lack of communication creates gaps they gladly fill with their own speculation or opinion. If you want to create a unified team, keep people in the loop! When you communicate well, you crush the early growth of gossip.

People who have great history have unity.
If you have a few key volunteers who have been with you since the beginning, you know how sweet it is to be with them, serve alongside them, and do the hard work of ministry together. You literally and figuratively have each other’s backs, and unity is your middle name. On the other hand, when you have high turnover or a collection of young, immature, or inexperienced youth workers serving with you the total opposite can happen. If you want to know the joys of a gossip-free team, work harder than ever to keep them around for a long time.

People who laugh rarely turn on each other.
We’ve noticed again and again in our years of youth ministry trench warfare that when people laugh together, they love each other more. When you are in relationship with your people – great stories, memories and inside jokes – the stronger you are together. When was the last time you spent some time just playing with your team? When was the last time you had an awards ceremony and gave out awards for everyone? Laugh together and unity quickly follows.

How have you seen unity built in your ministry?

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

Old is the New, New

Josh Griffin —  January 18, 2013 — 1 Comment

I love new. When someone starts a sentence with “We’ve never done this before” or “Here’s a new idea,” I get all pumped up. Yet I’ve been dealing with a lot of old lately.

  • I don’t have the new iPhone yet, and it’s been out for months already. It kills me to be off the pace of the upgrade treadmill.
  • My wife’s beat-up minivan has 171,000 miles on it, and I wish I could get her a 2013 Toyota Sienna tomorrow.
  • I just turned 38, so I’m not a spring chicken anymore.
  • I’m bored with our ministry’s summer calendar, so I’m trying to rethink it, gut it, and make everything brand new.

As we prepare to cross into the new year, I’m having a new thought: Maybe old should be the new, new. Maybe in our thirst for the latest gadget and “next best thing” type of programming, we’re missing out on some tried-and-true stuff that really works.

I don’t want to stand in the way of what’s next for youth ministry, but it doesn’t hurt to ponder some “new, old ideas” as we head into a new year.

1 – Build a team of caring adult leaders. Having the support of co-laborers in the faith has been a longtime tenet of youth ministry. This month, develop your inner circle of leadership—because the need for people who love God and love teenagers won’t ever change.

2 – Spend one-on-one time with young people. At the heart of ministry, past and present, is the individual. The church-growth movement has disproportionately fed the desire for the masses. But while large-crowd programs and events are fun, we must continually pursue and care for each young person.

3 – Rely on Bible-based curriculum and teaching. Styles and formats will come and go, and the size of groups will change. But the Bible has been and must stay at the center of youth ministry, no matter what philosophy we’re implementing this year or the next. Think about ways you can center your ministry more on Christ.

4 – Make sure a devoted follower of Jesus is leading the group. We can talk about leadership and experiment with the latest and greatest gadgets, tools, and core values. But if we aren’t in love with Jesus and devoted to him, our efforts (and ministry) will eventually implode.

Old really is the new, new!

Originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Group Magazine. Don’t get the magazine yet? Hit this link to subscribe and get in on the action today!



Was reflecting on this past year of ministry and how I’m so privileged to serve in our church and have a great group of people I work with on our church staff and amazing volunteer team. Probably lots of similar things have been written about building a winning team – but it has been fun and challenging to do these things in our youth ministry:

Love
Genuinely love your people. You can fake it for a while, but it eventually comes out that it is all about you. Make it all about them and all about Jesus and you win.

Laugh
The team that laughs together, stays together. Ministry is draining, challenging, and inspiring. Make sure you laugh along the way – it’ll double the life expectancy of your people.

Value
Make sure they KNOW they are loved. Make sure it is obvious you are thinking about them, promoting them, speaking highly of them. You shouldn’t have to say anything, they should just feel it. Typically when there is doubt in this area, they feel undervalued, ignored, under-appreciated, worthless.

Believe
Give your people real, audacious projects. Trust them with critical situations. Give them the ministry while you’re away on vacation, and don’t take it back when you return. Belief goes a long way when building people.

Would love to know what you do to build your team, too!

JG

Today the HSM Team and I are away at a fun day as we get near the holidays. We do it every year – I call it the State of HSM, but it is really a time of fun, stories and affirmations. I wanted to show you a fun affirmation we’re doing today that I think is easily transferable to your ministry and something you might consider doing in your group.

  • We collected 10 words people used to describe the selected person – you could do this in a variety of ways – slips of paper, email, whiteboard, sign in sheets, etc.
  • Collect and compile them into a document
  • Drop them into Wordle.net, words are sized according to the number of times they were repeated
  • Print the final rendering on photo paper, then frame and reveal

Jessica had this great idea and the final product is nothing short of fantastic. I posted one here as an example. So easy and so powerful!

JG



TEACH THE WORD
I have found that of all of the things that I have poured into my ministry that have had by far the biggest impact on individual lives and on groups as a whole is good, solid biblical teaching of God’s word. That means different things to different people. What I mean is regular (weekly), verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter teaching. Such teaching allows God’s word to teach God’s word, not choosing a topic to teach and then searching for various verses to back up the message you want to get across.

Now there is nothing wrong with topical teaching. I actually believe that a short stretch of a certain topic once in a while that pertains to your students is very healthy. But a regular diet of topical teaching is like feeding your students ice cream week after week. They need the meat of the word. And that means expository teaching.

Many people will disagree with this and I believe they mainly do because they either have not seen this type of teaching over a long period of time impact lives or they are ignorant or even lazy. Expository teaching is, here it is, hard work. It takes much more time and effort to dig for what a passage really means, what it meant for the people that it was written to, and what it means for its hearers now.

You will do your students an injustice now and over the long haul if you fudge in this area. We live in a world of extreme biblical ignorance and I believe that is mainly the church’s fault—starting in the youth ministry. If you focus your attention on developing your ability to teach the word in a way that truly feeds students solid meat, the impact of your effort will be seen in the lives of your students now and in their lives down the road as they continue to crave the meat of the word.

LAST WORDS
Youth ministry is a wonderful, unique, challenging, often misunderstood and rewarding career. It’s no longer as much a stepping stone to being a REAL pastor as it is a very specialized ministry that requires a disciplined work-ethic along with the ability to learn how to focus on what one has been specifically called to do. This takes years of patience, endurance, faith and heart to get it right. In my experience, more than 30.

Rob McIlvoy is a 30-year youth ministry veteran who has worked in churches, Young Life and internationally. He initially wrote this for his 23-year old son who had just landed his first full-time youth ministry position. He was hoping to impart words of advice as he began his own calling.

DEVELOP YOUR AND OTHERS LEADERSHIP SKILLS
“Leadership is influence – The ability to obtain followers – The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” *ch1 Your students don’t need your friendship as much as they need you to lead them. They also need you to help them develop their leadership skills. “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” *ch 10

Leadership seems to be more and more of a lost art in youth ministry. It is so easy to get lost or buried in the week in and week out responsibilities of lesson and meeting prep and all of the other details that can engulf you in youth ministry that you neglect to build into yourself, your leaders and you students what they need most: the joy of knowing how God has called them to lead in whatever situation in life that they find themselves.

Let’s face it, if leadership is influence, then everyone in your ministry is and will be a leader. You have the privilege of helping people learn to lead where they are and to learn skills that will carry into their marriages, families, businesses and ministries.

You do this by helping them to see where they are gifted and allowing them to try on different ways of using their gifts. If all of your time is spent developing your program and trying to be “successful” (whatever that looks like for you), then you will surely end up neglecting the development of leaders.

This means more than just helping your students and volunteers figure out how to lead. It means first and foremost helping them understand what it means to be a servant leader. They need to know what the heart of a leaders looks like. They need to see that a true leader ultimately serves those he or she leads out of love for them and a desire to see them succeed. Focus on helping them learn to have the heart of a leader.

Now this is all fine, but if you are not constantly developing your own leadership skills, you will constantly bump into your own shortcomings in this area. I suggest you do a few things to develop your own leadership skills:

  1. Read books on leadership
  2. Ask others how they perceive you as a leader. Ask for an honest critique.
  3. Put yourself in situations that stretch your present leadership skills.

Rob McIlvoy is a 30-year youth ministry veteran who has worked in churches, Young Life and internationally. He initially wrote this for his 23-year old son who had just landed his first full-time youth ministry position. He was hoping to impart words of advice as he began his own calling.