Success is a word that is truly open to interpretation. There is maybe no greater discrepancy of this word than between a pastor (or committee) and their youth pastor. Let me show you what the differences might look like
Their version of success means: You reach a lot of kids
Your version: I reached one kid. THAT Kid.
Their version of success: You caused the least amount of trouble
Your version: I took risks and chances that caused a stir
Their version of success: You are a self started that does not need coddling
Your version: I am a team player who is in a mentoring relationship with my leader.
Somewhere in the mix of these definitions you both have to come to an agreement of what success looks like for your youth ministry. If you cannot agree, their will be unfulfilled expectations and broken spirits. When you do come to agreement, life and ministry will be easier to navigate.
As a team decide which of these is success
- How many kids in the program
- How many kids on the retreat
- How many in SS
- How many on the youth team
I put most of these in the “how many” category because that is how may pastors see it. Look for balance though and suggest these “how many’s” be added to the list as well
- How many students have stepped up in leadership
- How many kids bring their friends
- How many kids have person spiritual disciplines
- How many guests have you had in the past few months
- How many kids kids has the team connected with
- How many new kids went on the missions trip
“How many” is only one dynamic of success but unfortunately it is the most visible and therefore judged more readily. Don’t forget to add other intangibles and growth markers to the list. Help the team or your pastor see some of the other things Jesus saw like
- Understanding truth (Luke 10:21)
- Acts of faith (Peter stepping out in faith or the centurion’s faith)
- Servanthood (following Jesus’ example of foot washing)
There are other examples in scripture and I invite you share your insights. Until then, find he balance and you’ll find success, if only in God’s sight.