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 who is asking some tough questions about hiring an older youth worker. Was hoping you could share your thoughts in the comments, too. Weigh in!

I just have a simple question … beyond the obvious (stamina, “cool” factor, cost? etc.), why is it so many churches are reluctant at hiring youth pastors nearing 50 with 20+ years of student ministry experience? I obviously fall into the camp. Oddly enough I feel like I am pastoring and leading volunteer leaders, staff and students better (and more wisely) at this age than I did when I was younger. Additionally … the credibility with parents comes in having my own HS and JH student living in my home.

Thoughts? Weigh in!


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: or Twitter: @CorbinKyle

Email blasts, announcements from the pulpits, and flyers on car windshields are only a few of the methods we have tried when it comes to recruiting ministers.  It can be a painful process because the idea of hearing, “NO” breaks our heart and leaves us hopeless.

If you want to successfully recruit volunteers for your youth ministry you need to KEEP IT SIMPLE.  That means making the process less intimidating and frustrating.  To be successful at this you need to:

Give Them A Test Drive – Ministry can be intimidating, especially with teenagers.  Many reasons people will turn you down is because they think it’s all in or nothing.  Allow them to witness and shadow a night of your ministry.  Sit down with them afterwards and invite them back for another try if they are unsure.  A non committal test run, takes away the fear of signing their life away.

Eliminate Surprises - With the growing need for paperwork and background checks getting involved in ministry can be like taking out a mortgage on a house.  This can be shocking to someone who just wants to serve teens.  Make the process simple and clear by laying out the steps they will need to take ahead of time.  This way they won’t be caught off guard when you say, “Welcome to ministry, now let’s go to orientation and training.”  Clear expectations allow them to walk in confident in your leadership.

Share The Vision – Ideally you want your volunteers to serve once a week, every week for an entire year.  If possible you want them for more than just a year.  That’s a lot to chew; therefore, give them a vision of what happens when they invest in the ministry.  Share with them testimonies, give them a window into your passion and let them know that it’s more than just chaperoning.  Help them see WHY so they can see past the HOW.

Get Their Input – Once they commit and begin serving, follow up with them.  This way they’ll know you are happy to have them on board as a team player.  Not only will they feel included in your ministry’s mission, but you’ll gain insight you’ve never heard before.  Sitting down with them to hear their thoughts will affirm their decision to serve alongside of you.

You need ministers and it will always feel like you cannot get them fast enough.  Be patient and develop a system so that when the mass communication hits the air waves you are prepared to bring them along.  While you will still hear, “NO” from time to time, you won’t make the process as painful as going to the dentist.

What steps would you add?  How do you recruit volunteers into ministry?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)

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 who is asking about violence and accidents that happen during youth group. Was hoping you could share your thoughts in the comments, too. Weigh in!

I was wondering, when it comes to youth trips, how are chaperones funded in your ministry?  Does everyone pay out of pocket?  Are all of their costs subsidized by the ministry budget or fundraisers?  Is there a split between the two? I was just curious as to what your policies are.  How many “trips” would an adult leader have the opportunity – or even be expected – to attend in the course of a year with your youth group?


It’s hard to recruit an adult into youth ministry; however, to keep them for the long haul is another story.  I would like to say that everyone that served with me in my first year is still with me today; but, that would be a lie.  In fact there is only one person that has stuck around for the last 9 years.  Fortunately, that trend has changed and the turnover is much lower today.  THE PROBLEM is that ministers were leaving because they did not feel value.  They felt like they were treated like doers and not leaders.

If you want your ministry to grow, you need to take the volunteers you have and give them the opportunities to lead.  You can’t just wait around for the perfect leaders because they may never come.  Instead you have to look at opportunities to build your ministry depth.  That’s done when you:

  • Take A Risk: Doesn’t matter if you ask them to hand in a resume or if you pick them out of a hat, when choosing a leader you are taking a risk.  To take a calculated risk it’s important for you to develop parameters and steps that will allow them to grow as a leader.  That means giving them room to fail.
  • Give Over Control:  In order for a leader to grow, they need opportunities to lead.  Give them a project, an activity or event to run.  Not only will it give them confidence as a leader but the understanding to what you feel as the youth pastor.  This will allow them to understand the work that goes into reaching the vision for your ministry.
  • Equip Them With Resources: You need to set your leaders up for success.  To make that happen you need to give your leaders resources to educate them on ministry and materials that they need to perform certain tasks.  This means understanding how and where they need to grow.
  • Step Away: You can be the biggest obstacle to your leader’s development.  While you think you are giving them control you could still be micromanaging.  Encourage your leaders to come to you with any questions and then trust that they will follow through on the invitation.  This means allowing them to fail.  It means giving them permission to run the ministry in “their” way.  By stepping away and allowing them to lead you give them the most important gift as a leader, trust.

To build your ministry depth you need to equip, motivate and empower leaders.  They will extend your reach and influence.  They’ll help you create more capacity in your schedule.  When you grow leaders you build momentum behind your movement.

How are you empowering and growing leaders?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)


Trying out a new idea (we undoubtedly stole from someone else – ha!) this week in our High School Ministry – HSM’s Study Hall. We’ve converted a room to a study area during finals week and promoted it as a serious option to come study, hang with friends and eat some snacks. We provide the food, free wi-fi, a few volunteers that can jump in with some basic tutoring and the room!

Students have totally eaten it up and are taking it seriously – great place to get to know them relationally hanging out during breaks. Fun idea!


Old is the New, New

 —  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!

Really enjoyed this post over on from Greg Baird called 5 Things Every Kid’s Ministry Volunteer Needs to Know. Almost 100% of it transfers over to youth ministry easily – thought I would send you that way to read it today. Here’s 3 of them to get you started:

1. They are not babysitters.
Of course, most would agree with you about this. Unfortunately, many times they don’t act like it’s true. Volunteers need to truly understand that they are here to make an eternal impact in the lives of the kids they are serving.

2. Their ministry needs to flow from their relationship with God.
Following on from #1, it’s important for our team to understand the importance of their own relationship with God. And it’s important for us, as leaders, to understand that children’s ministry isnot just about discipling children, but also about discipling our volunteers. Are you checking on the spiritual health of your individual team members?

4. Connecting with parents is critical.
Volunteers need to know that, while what they do is critically important, it’s not what will make the biggest difference in the spiritual lives of kids. What the parents do will make the biggest difference. But parents often need (and usually want) to connect with what’s happening at church in order to make the spiritual investment at home.