This is part three in my series on how to keep your youth ministry from collapsing. You can start from the beginning here.
I sat in the Pastor’s office after an incident where our outreach bus was pulled over by the cops because of a fight on the bus. It’s not party (or youth ministry) until the cops show up, right? As I sat there explaining what happen and how the drive pick up a young man they shouldn’t have, I was met with a cold stare. No compassion, no warmth, shark eyes.
I asked, broken and a bit defiant, “I’m starting to think I don’t belong here. What do you think?” No answer. The silence was crushing. It was also probably not the right time to ask for feedback.
I needed my Pastor’s support, and it wasn’t there. This wasn’t the only pastor or withhold verbal or written support but it was the most memorable. This is the third pillar in supporting a youth ministry. Without a pastor’s personal and ministry support, both the youth pastor and the ministry eventually collapse.
The collapse begins with the the sagging heart of the youth worker. If that youth worker does not feel the love or support of those who lead them, it’s only a matter of time before de-motivation leads to de-molition. Why should I bother? Why should I care? They don’t care!! No one does youth ministry for the money, the least a youth worker deserves is support.
Too many pastors and boards expect youth pastors to produce something out of nothing, a literal miracle. What many pastors do not understand is that a key component in the health of the church’s youth pastor, and the youth ministry overall, is feedback. It’s a real miracle when this happens at all and especially if it’s done well.
If you’re the youth pastor, here’s my advice on getting feedback from your pastor
The most important person is the pastor, not the kids, why? He signs your paycheck. The kids can quit showing up, but the pastor can fire you. Don’t ask for feedback right after a crisis, (as per the story above). Ask for feedback regularly (every couple of months).
You’ll more than likely get feedback in your staff meeting, but you may get more feedback than you are looking for if other staff jump in. This isn’t bad, necessarily, but those other guys don’t sign your check. Be sure to ask your pastor to breakfast or lunch and have a casual talk, one on one away from the office.
Ask the right questions
“How am I doing?” is not the right question. It’s too open ended. Here are some better questions you can ask,
Where do you think I can improve?
Do you think the youth group is on track?
Are our DNA’s matching?
How can we better serve the congregation better?
Listen for the nugget of truth
Since you asked for feedback, you’re going to get it and depending on the timing, wether you stock is up or down, you may also get some criticism. No matter what you hear, don’t be down hearted. Look for the nuggets of truth, the stuff you CAN change. Thank them for the feedback and get to working on what you’ve discussed.
If you’re the Pastor, this is for you because you play a key part in your youth ministries success.
Ditching the yearly review, and have feedback session often and make adjustments on the move rather than wait.
” A plan that cannot be adjusted, is a bad plan” – CJ, ESPN
Visit your youth ministry. Watch how hard your youth pastor is working and some of the challenges they have.
Swap pulpits with your youth pastor and reengage with your teens.
Go to lunch once a month with your youth pastor to talk, share and pray.
Ask your youth pastor how his or her soul is doing. This may mean the most to them. They are looking to you as a mentor.
Ask them how can the church support what they’re doing.
Pastor, I’m not asking you to excuse anything or to coddle your youth pastor. I’m asking you to care, to be transparent with them because what they do, can affect the church for years to come. Your support is a pillar in the youth ministry. Don’t be shocked at what happen next if you pull it away.
If you’re needing more help in getting your youth ministry on track, be sure to check out my Ministry Minded Coaching page.