In my naive days, I thought the youth ministry was my world, my silo, separate from other ministries. In reality, the only reason you have this full time, professional, role is because your boss, your pastor, signs those checks.
So, try your best today to remove yourselves from harming the relationship that could be the difference between success and failure, job or Googling youth ministry jobs.
You can shoot yourself in the foot through self-inflicted conflict. I want you to avoid that because it only makes your job harder.
Here’s my guide for avoiding a pastor disaster
1. Keep them in the loop
A lack of information produces fear. Operating out of fear and operating out of confidence makes all the difference. Consider your pastor’s schedule
- Hospital visits (that stuff you really don’t want to do)
- Counseling sessions
- Jail visits (hopefully not to any of your students or possibly you)
- Sermon Prep
The list goes on. When something is going on that they NEED to know about but he or she doesn’t, it could result in a knee-jerk expression of fear and anger. Here are some ways to keep your pastor in the loop.
- Add them to critical e-mail lists (adult leaders, parents newsletter, etc)
- Text them when something changes
- Give them your four month plan
- Bring up changes in staff meeting
- Keep your calendar online and send them a link
- Post it to their door
- Make sure their secretary has the information.
Another way to keep your pastor in the loop is invite him to switch pulpits. Let them do your service and you do his/hers. This way they can see the good you are doing and give them a chance to connect with students.
Whatever you do, keep your pastor informed about what is going on. This way they can brag on you 🙂
2. Tell them before they find out
We all have those moments of “should I tell or shouldn’t I?”. My vote: tell. What are some of the things you might want to tell your pastor before they find out?
- An exchange of words with THAT parent
- An exchange of words with THAT deacon or board member
- And exchange of words with his wife or kids
- When numbers are down. Plead a Mea Culpa and ask for help.
- When you know you spent to much and the event sucked.
- When a prominent student is no longer attending.
- That thing that happened at that camp before they see it on social media.
There are a dozen more, but God will usually let us know when we should share. Take the hit early and work your way up from there.
3. Plan together
If your Turkey Bowl is conflicting with the Downtown outreach, that’s a problem. Staff members too often live separate live and engage in silo building. Do as much planning up front too avoid date conflicts.
I know some of this may be out of your control but try asking for 1 day a quarter to break out the calendars and everyone getting on the same page. The very fact that the youth pastor is suggesting does 2 things 1) Signifies the apocalypse may be occurring and 2) you are on the ball.
You could suggest a one day staff retreat where you go to a hotel or camp ground and do planning for the next year together.
4. Think big picture not youth group
Like I said in the beginning, this is only our youth group as long as someone above us tells us it is. When I was working flipping houses for a rental company, someone gave some great advice, “Don’t fall in love with your property”. This statement simply says, it’s gonna get messed up; so don’t get obsessed with it. Solomon says it this way,
“So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 2:17-19
My suggestions is to erase this phrase from your vocab “My ministry” or “My youth group”. This group only exists because there is a local church established. You may just want to stop saying “mine” all together.
Your best bet is to get on the same page with your Pastor. What is the overall mission of the church and how can you lead the youth to help them accomplish this and disciple your students at the same time. This can lead to a longer stay and a reputation of being a team player.
Trust me, for this radical, “fight the man” youth pastor of old to say this, seems quite strange, but I found it to be quite true.
5. Make their priorities your priorities
It should not take us long to figure this out. Just listen in staff meeting for a few weeks and write down key words. Some words may be
- Budget (money is important, be thrifty)
- Facilities (building is important, keep it clean)
- Souls (evangelism is important, do more outreach)
- Schedule ( time and organization is important, be on time, be organized)
- Key names ( relationships are important, improve them)
Like I said, it doesn’t take long to know what your pastor thinks is important and the longer you take to make their priorities your priorities, you increase the chance of a conflict.
I am not talking about kissing their ring, I’m talking about decreasing the opportunity of conflict so God can bless your obedience and open doors to getting some of your dreams and ideas through.
If you are a struggling youth pastor, let me offer you a free session of coaching in my Ministry Minded Coaching group. Send me an e-mail, to firstname.lastname@example.org, telling me why you need the coaching and I’ll set up a time to get you in.
Would you like to avoid a parent disaster? I have five tips for you, here.