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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Can You Tell me A Story?

My 4th question in this series  for re-evaluating volunteers is, “Can you tell me a story?”. Every youth ministry has a narrative. We are a collection of stories but we tend to focus on numbers, activity, and logistics.

Stories matter. Stories tell me what kind of impact you’re making. Stories reveal the characters you are impacting and might reveal the plot that that is developing,  I don’t even mind if they brag a little, boast in Christ’s name of what God has been doing in them and through them.

The other half of this story is about “How is this youth ministry is impacting you?” I want to know who’s touching your heart, what are you learning (from students) through the ministry, and what is God teaching you in the midst of your ministry to students?

I could go deeper into story and ask them to each share how they would like their story change. What twist would they like too see and maybe how they would like to see their story in youth ministry end.

This last question is important because I am asking them to dream and then embrace practices that will increase the chances that they are getting the ending they are looking for. In addition to getting what they want our students are going to get motived leader seeking to write a better story for themselves and, ultimately, our youth ministry.

The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals. – Melodie Beattie

What’s your story?

Join me tomorrow for part five.

 

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What’s Your Passion Level?

This is part two in my series on the seven questions to re-evaltuate your youth ministry volunteers. In my last post, I shared the first question: Who has the leverage? My next question is, “What’s your passion level?”

Let me offer a caveat before I get rolling. I understand that many youth groups do not have a wealth of choices when it comes to volunteers. You may not be able to recruit because your congregation is smaller and/or older and the desire for people to work with the youth is limited. That being said, we still have to be willing to evaluate our volunteers even if that means we have to change the way we do youth ministry.

Here are some passion signs I am look for

Are they showing up?

If I have leaders who are simply not showing (no work or illness) then  their commitment is in question. By not showing up, this tells me they are not interested or invested in the youth ministry. Once again, choices may be limited, but no example is still better than a bad example.

Are they participating/engaging?

I have a couch in our youth room. It’s where the adults sit during worship while kids worship to the side. I want to burn that couch, but  I’ve had to shift my mind from “Why aren’t you with the kids? to “Are you and God engaged?”

I think we can make mountains out of mole hills. There is nothing spiritually significant about adults standing or sitting with kids in worship. Our kids are not becoming “better worshippers” because our adults are standing or sitting with them.

If there were disciplinary problems, I could see where adults sitting with kids would be of value; but our kids are good kids. It’s my job to say something interesting and keep students engaged, not my volunteer’s job to keep bored kids interested.

In the end I ask, “Are they worshipping or are they disengaged?” It’s important that I not judge them. These are grown people with jobs and lives, but I must always remind them that they are examples.

I’m also looking at the kinds of conversations they’re having with kids. Are they seeking to uplift kids or are their conversations about nothing? Are they having intentional relationships in order to lead kids further along in their relationship with Christ?

Engagement is, ultimately, in the details and visible in the fruit that is being produced. My eyes are drawn to progress and not just activity.

Am I asking them to fulfill roles and responsibilities?

I text my team a couple of times a week, letting them know about what’s going on. I offer several opportunities on how they can add value to the meeting or certain jobs that need to be done. I also call them individually if I feel like someone on my team would fit a particular activity such as games, food, etc.

I’ve been to several bookstores lately, and it’s the time of the year where bookstores collect books for school, hospitals, etc. The girl asked me “Would you like to purchase a book for X?” She continued, “If you’re feeling extra generous, this is the last in this particular series of books.” I wasn’t feeling extra generous but she had me because she asked.

What I understand is that I cannot hide behind technology. I cannot lead by text. I have to lead face to face, with human connection. It’s easy to say no to or ignore a text. It’s much harder to say not to a real person or to a real need.

Stay tuned.

Question number three What Is Your Mission?

 

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Youth Ministry Volunteer Expectations In 100 Words Or Less

My expectations for our adult youth ministry leaders

1. Don’t do for kids what kids can do for themselves.

2. Change is good if it helps us reach our goals.

3. Leaders are learners.

4. Do things with excellence. The church is not a second class organization.

5. Take kids from Connection, to Community, to Co-laborers in Christ

To Join The Team

Attend church for at least six months

Complete Pastor’s Covenant Partner class

Interview with me.

Attend a LIFT Event

Attend a LIFT Meeting

Attend a Team LIFT Meeting

Given a role and a responsibility

(99 Words)

 

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