Are You Healthy Enough For Youth Ministry?

This is the fifth and final post in my series on re-evaluating your youth ministry volunteers, and it may be the most important.

Often times a person will hide their health (all kinds) to keep their job. People want to keep their job so they’ll hide or mask the fact that there is something wrong so they won’t be fired, demoted, etc.

Think of football players. They know that their is a second and third string right behind them. They know that if they go down, someone could take their place. Commentators and the general public reward, with praise, this kind of sacrifice.

I remember Robert Griffin III playing one night. He was really injured on a play, coach Mike Shanahan put him back in. Everyone could see that Griffin was really injured, but out he went, only to get injured even further.

Our volunteers are the same. It’s possible that they, in their minds, have a “powerful” position. It’s a role that gives them purpose and hope and if they were to lose it, it would crush them.

Now, there are various levels of “injuries” a football player can sustain and still play. Broken fingers, strained wrists, etc. None of those are optimum but guys are taught to “play through the pain.”

As believers we can and do sustain “injuries” and can still function. We are wounded healers. We have to deal with unhappy people, jerks who hurt our feelings with their opinions, and just plain mean people who do not like us. Youth Pastors have to shoulder on and get results, but we should do our volunteers one better.

We should offer our volunteers a no fear evaluation. Out evaluations should be a kindness, a check up to prevent any injuries or sickness.

Evaluations shouldn’t be solely performance reviews. If we are the leaders we are also the team doctors. We determine if a player can or should play if the are not 100%

The kinds of injuries I look for are Mental, Emotional and Spiritual.

Mental 

I’m not a psychiatrist or psychologist but I still have to evaluate someone’s mental capacity to drive a bus, teach a lesson, etc. Mental capacity does not mean I am seeing if the person is “crazy” but rather has the fluidity to perform in certain roles.

There are some leaders who lack a filter. The spout off whatever they want whenever they want to whoever they want. These kinds of leaders might be great for tasks at events, but not for a small group leader.

Emotional

People carry wounds in their hearts like many carry around scars on their body. People who are constantly bringing up how people have hurt them, slighted them, left hem out, etc. are not well emotionally, They haven’t dealt with the hurt and the pain they received.

Leaders are there to minister to kids, not rant on about their lives and how unfair life has been to them. People who are not emotionally well suck all the oxygen out of the room and make every thing about them through rehearsing how they received their injury.

Much like athletes who never got their shot at greatness because of such and such (think Kevin from This Is Us) they re-tell the stories of what could have been. The live in the past rather than the present.

Spiritual

Some wounds go deeper than our emotions and drip, like poison, into or spirits. These are the worst kinds of injuries. They are life debilitating because they tint how we look at life.

Spiritual wounds often look like bitterness, un-forgiveness, easily offended, unable to receive instruction, love, or discipline. These are the kinds of wounds, if left unattended, will sideline them from doing the kinds of ministry they would like to do.

We have to be prayed up and perceptive. Some youth workers see their goal as running a great youth program because they were hired to. Be that as it may, God asks us to, occasionally, play team doctor and evaluate those playing on our team, offer prayer, advice, support, therapy, etc.  whatever we can to help our volunteers become the healthiest people they can be. Healthy people make great volunteers.

Although the football player doesn’t like when the team doctor tells them they cannot return to the game because of a concussion and they feel that the doctor is ruining their career, that doctor may be saving that mans life so he can have a life after football.

Listen, it’s only youth ministry, it’s not life.  My role as believer supersedes my role as a Youth Pastor. If I have to sit someone out (including myself) and “the game” suffers, so be it, but I have to care more about that persons well being than I care about how well the program is running.

We cannot fix or cure anyone, that’s Jesus’ job but we should always take stock of the mental, emotional, and spiritual well being of our team. Failure to do so means their will be a lot of “time outs” for injury and we’ll see our youth programs suffer and our kids not receiving the best care from healthy people.

Internally, with a small team or with your Pastor, evaluate those you lead with questions like,

Are they healthy enough to lead a small group?

Are they healthy enough to mentor someone else?

Are they healthy enough to preach?

While we’re at it, we should also put ourselves though the same kinds of injury protocols. After all, youth ministry isn’t life, is it?

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I’ve Finally Given Up On My Youth Staff

I've finally Given Up On My Youth Staff

For years I wanted my staff to be more like youth pastors than volunteers. I would train them, and want them to love books about youth ministry, enjoy the training videos or handouts I give them. I’ve given up trying to put my calling on them.

I’ve had some great volunteers in the past and have an excellent team right now. It makes me think of all the time I wasted trying to make them more like me than embrace the gifts and talents they brought to the table.

I still sen them training material and e-ail up dates and have staff meetings but I’ve learned to embrace who they are and their uniqueness in the ministry. If they love Jesus and love kids that’s o.k. with me, the rest is just details.

Your Turn

What are you trying to force rather than embrace?

5 Words That Define A Successful Youth Staff Meeting

Five Words

We had our monthly Team Fusion meeting last night and as I was reflecting on what makes these meetings successful and I came up with five words.

Laughter

We usually meet for about 90 minutes and a third of that is spent in jokes and laughter. These people like each other and it shows.

Prayer

We eventually get to a point in the meeting where the conversations turns to the needs in the group and our adults begin to pour out stories of kids who are in need or crisis. We don’t wait until the end of the meeting because I know the needs can be great and we don’t want to treat this time lightly by rushing it.

Stories

Likewise, it is also inevitable that I ask, “Who are you connecting with?” and adults will share stories of kids they are getting to know. i love to share stories about kids journey’s and where they have come from to where they are now. These breathe hope into meeting and make us realize why we are meeting in the first place.

Action

I had several projects on the table for this meeting. I constantly learning to let go and trust the people around me. Not an easy task if you knew me very well. I love when adults take ownership of the ministry even if it’s a small task.

Questions

Sometimes leaders have to push back or make me be more clear. A meeting without questions means I am not challenging them enough or that I am only dispensing information and not allowing more conversation. Sometimes I need to be more clear about what I am asking them to do so questions are not only welcome but vital.

If you’d like the outline of my youth staff meeting I’ll be happy to send it to you. Just e-mail me at thedproject@me.com

If you are interested in how to keep good volunteers long term, check out my new show Mentor Me Monday below

Your Turn

What words define a successful youth staff meeting to you?

Leave me some of your words in the comment below.

 

Tips For Volunteer Training: Thinking Inside The Board Game Box

boardgame

 

I  read an article the other day called “How To Teach Someone A Board Game“. It is a simple, short article; but I think if we borrowed the tips from this article we could teach our ministry volunteers faster, with less mistakes, and with a win for everyone in the end.

 Make Sure _________________________ Is Set Up Before You Start

Whatever I am going to teach (a hobby, a sport, etc.), I have a model, the equipment, etc.  ready so the person I am teaching can get their hands dirty with it. I think teaching ministry principles should be the same way. When I am teaching our volunteers I try to make sure everyone has the right equipment, the handbook, the technology, the map, whatever they need to be successful. Having what they need, when they need it, cuts down on wasted time, energy, and frustration.

Start With How To Win

If I’ve missed any  step in teaching/training process, I think it is defining the win off the bat. I may include it in my talk but defining the win early gets people think about the reward and the process of how they could do what I have asked them to do. I have worked in many churches and if they had told me what the win was (numbers, number of salvations, number of disciples in process, etc) it would have saved a ton of time and I may possibly have turned down some jobs if they could not articulate what winning was.

Walk The New Players Through a Typical Turn (and Round, if Necessary)

If we are teaching someone chess we have to teach how each of the pieces move, what is a check, and what is check mate. Details matter. I don’t think I spend enough time succinctly explaining how something works especially if it has a lot of moving parts. I can get wordy and enamored with the process instead of doing a proper walk through.

I was recently training some young adults to do middle school ministry and I shared how we will take the kids up stairs so I took them upstairs, I showed them how the room would be set up, etc. I had one young man who was supposed to lead the lesson that night and I i thought I had explained well enough how he should do it. He shared one verse of scripture and he was done. No kidding. Next time I will let him do the lesson with just me first and walk him through it.

PLAY

It’s simple. The more you play something the better, or least the more familiar, you become with it. My son and I play a rules heavy game called Warahammer (the rule book is huge) and I don’t play it enough to be any good at it because I keep forgetting the rules. If I want my youth ministry volunteers to be any good at anything I have to let them play it enough to get good at it.

Just like playing a game with missing pieces is no fun, trying to do the ministry asked of you with missing instructions or tools is no fun either. Let’s try lightening the load and focus on a process that empowers instead of frustrates.

Would you say your method of teaching someone  to do something in your youth ministry is simple? Too complicated?

Think through the process you go through to teach a

– Sunday School teacher

– Youth Leader

– An intern

– A new staff member

– a small group leader

How to fulfill their role. Have you told them what the win is? Have you showed them how to achieve the win?

Tell me, do any of your processes need  a little streamlining? Which ones?

Let me know what you think about board game style training in the comments below or if you need help in training your team, I can help.