This is part two in my seven part series on youth ministry and infrastructure. You can read part one here.
If you’re into super hero movies, you’ve seen superheroes lift cars, trucks and even semi’s. It’s a cool visual, one man or woman holding up this heavy object to save dozens of people from certain death. Some heroes use their natural super strength like Superman and some use their “gift” like Spiderman and his webbing.
What makes heroes so heroic is that some of them attempt to lift something, in our eyes, un-liftable or that puts their powers to the test and puts them under strain. As exciting as that is to watch in the movies, it’s a dumb idea to try in youth ministry.
We are not heroes. No matter what anyone tell you. The hero mentality means you believe you can or should do things by yourself. Youth Ministry is a heavy thing and there should never be an attempt to lift it or carry it alone, no matter how heroic it looks.
The Avengers are for more effective than The Punisher. The X-Men can do more together than Wolverine can do by himself. The reason you have super hero team movies is because the danger is high and requires a team. You wouldn’t want to watch an Avenger movie where all they busted were jay walkers or even bank robber. Any one hero can take care of that. World danger, human extinction, etc. require a team.
The stakes in youth ministry are high. Not world ending high, but eternity high. We’re taking care of students who will grow up to be adults who will have some kind of impact in the world. They’ll make that impact with a world view and that world view will be Christian or not. We have the privilege of being a part of forming that worldview.
I’ve tried to move heavy object before by myself. Nine times out of ten, if I can move it at all, I do so very slowly and usually hurt myself. The same is true in youth ministry. Youth Ministry without a team as part of its infrastructure, and a team can be you and another persons, puts that youth ministry at a disadvantage and in danger of collapsing in on itself.
Let me offer a few reasons you should be building that team and why they’re important to the structure of your youth ministry. A team is more than just a group of people who can help us do games, serve pizza and lead small groups. A team is made up of people, not robots who do tasks, who we need to do life with.
A team to pray with
I can remember sitting around the kitchen table with my leaders and praying for our students and the church. This is when I felt like we were getting the most done.
Youth workers need the community of prayer and corporate reflection. Our souls don’t fair well when we feel like we bear the burden of ministry or life alone. This is why the Apostle Paul said,
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
Youth Ministry is not just about roles and mechanisms. I’ve heard it said the the church is not just an organization but an organism. The community of saints is a spiritual ecosystem where we all need each other.
Jesus said, “Without me, you can do nothing”. Not only can we not do anything without Christ at the center, we can’t do anything, significant, without a team we can pray with, trust, dream with and unload our burden’s to.
A team to laugh with
My youth team Christmas parties were some of my favorite times of bonding. There were gag gifts, great food and lots of laughter. These times, as well as may others, were food for my soul. You have to have a team you can laugh with because youth work can be overwhelming.
As a youth worker, I was tempted to see volunteers as drones to make my vision happen rather than people with whom to make friends with.
It’s important to your spiritual health to have a team you can go to lunch with after church, have team meetings with and have over your house for game nights. A healthy, joyful team means a healthy soul for you and a strong pillar for your youth ministry
A team to compliment us
As much as I wanted everyone on my team to be like me (for relational purposes), I was glad I had diversity. I had people on my team who reached kids I never reached, ministers to kids I had nothing in common with and had stories other kids could relate with.
Not only were was my team made up of different personalities, but they had different giftings. They could do things I could not. Some were more organized, more compassionate and more relational. They didn’t have my ego or the need to seem cool or in control. Youth ministry teams need a diversity of personalizes and gifts to remain healthy.
A team to share the burden
Youth work is hard and, at times, it is lonely. There are times where the hero mentality creeps in and you feel like you’re the only one who cares about these students. It’s not true. That is a lie we tell ourselves.
When I would feel like this, I remembered Elijah. He thought he was the only prophet, the only hero, the last one standing until God told him,
“Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel–all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” I Kings 19:18
Not everyone on your team is someone you can confide in, but choose one or two who have your heart and can act like Aaron and Hur who will hold up your arms like they did with Moses. Confess the times you are weak, the times you need prayer and the times you are feeling like you’re not at your best. Let others carry you when you can cannot carry yourself.
Yes, the youth ministry needs an infrastructure of adults and students to perform tasks but, more than that, you need an infrastructure of godly men and women who can support you in difficult times. Choose your team wisely.