Are you tired of doing it all on your own? Are you starting to feel a little charred around the edges, afraid of admitting that you’re approaching burnout? Maybe you’re new to the youth ministry game and have been put in charge of “starting something up.” Perhaps you just don’t like asking people for help. Or maybe you’re a loner and like doing things by yourself because…well…for whatever reason.
Regardless of the reasons you’re bearing the load of the youth ministry on your shoulders, you have to stop. Not only is it unhealthy for you, it’s also detrimental to the youth and church you’re serving.
You know the latest statistics: Youth need five adults in addition to their parents to pour into them in order to help ensure their faith endures beyond high school and college. So if you’re a superstar, running youth group by yourself (even if you have an extra body or two to be “safe church” compliant), then you’re not giving your students what they need: volunteer adults who care about building deep-impact relationships with the youth of their church.
When you fly solo, you risk burnout. That’s not good for your soul.
When you fly solo, you potentially exclude those who might feel called to give of their time and talent to build up your church’s youth.
Sometimes, though, folks who are flying solo are doing it because they don’t know how to bring others along with them. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- In what ways could other adults serve within the youth ministry? Perhaps you break out into small groups. Adult volunteers are great at leading those discussions. A good rule of thumb is to strive to have one adult volunteer for every five youth. Note: Nobody wants to serve on a team if they don’t feel equipped to do so. Therefore, be sure to provide your volunteer team with some good training, and remember to share practical tricks of the trade along the way.
- Is there a functional youth committee? If so, are they there to tell you what you’re doing right or wrong? That’s not the type of team you need. The youth committee should be willing to get their hands dirty and work to ensure you have structural tools in place so the success of the ministry isn’t falling solely on you. If not, then form a team of four or five adults who will commit to meeting with you once a month to help steer the youth ministry in a unified direction. These folks can also lend you support in identifying other adults who’d be great working with youth.
- How are the youth celebrated among the broader church community? Sometimes it’s difficult to get adult volunteers engaged in youth ministry if they don’t know much about what happens in youth ministry. Make sure to celebrate the good things God is doing in and through the youth of the church. Use the church newsletter to brag, ask youth to share their stories, etc. Older folks love that sort of thing!
- What’s my motivation for doing youth ministry? Perhaps this is the most important question to ask. Are you there to feel good about what you’re doing in the life of a teen? If so, check yourself before you wreck yourself! It’s great to feel affirmed in a job well done, but if it’s about you, then it probably isn’t about Jesus.
Jesus didn’t fly solo, and neither should we. We should invite people to join us on the ride. Don’t get so caught up in being a relationship master that you forget one of your most important jobs should be to mentor adult volunteers to become relationship masters.
Melissa Rau has been involved in youth ministry in every possible role imaginable since 1997. She’s a Lead Consultant with Ministry Architects, and she especially loves helping churches establish sustainable models of ministry. She currently lives just outside Philadelphia with her husband, Mike, and their three kids. She’s particularly fond of giraffes and the color orange.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.