Multi-Site Youth Ministry
At the NYWC in Louisville, a group of youth pastors from multi-site churches gathered together to start a conversation—one that is, quite frankly, long overdue. For four hours we talked, schemed, brainstormed, shared, pushed, empathized, and dreamed about what could be in the world of multi-site youth ministry. Here are three issues we identified and three ideas for possible resolutions we can commit to as we continue to develop this multi-site strategy in youth ministry.
The adult ministries in churches are talking and strategizing about how best to do multi-site ministry, but youth ministries aren’t. This is a theme with both big and small churches. When churches have adopted the multi-site model, the youth ministry often ends up feeling as if they’re along for the ride.
Talk. Strategize. Gather other multi-site youth pastors, and share ideas. Do whatever you need to do to think through how best to lean into multi-site youth ministry. We need to take the lead and begin dreaming about what multi-site youth ministry can look like. One youth pastor of a very large, prominent church told me that they’re far from figuring out multi-site youth ministry, and they aren’t truly harnessing this model at all. He told me to write the multi-site youth ministry book, because we all need to read it. I say we need to write that book together!
Youth pastors see the value in multi-site youth ministry, but they aren’t sure how to harness it. The idea is exciting, the reach will be greater, and the promise is there. Unfortunately, the plan is not. The efficiency is lacking. The pressure is greater. The difficulty has increased exponentially. The responsibility is sometimes more than was signed up for.
Efficiency is the name of the game. As a multi-site youth ministry youth pastor, you have an opportunity not only to pastor people but also to lead and give ministry away. You can’t do it all on your own—you have to raise up, train, and empower other leaders to lead. Then the beauty of multi-site youth ministry shines as you share resources such as messages, new volunteer orientation processes, budgeting, series, games, retreats, camps, and administrative support.
Youth pastors are tired. Ready or not, campuses are launching, and youth pastors are doing their very best to keep up. The resources being offered vary greatly from church to church. In some cases, extra staff can be added, but in many cases it falls on the shoulders of the current staff or volunteers.
When it comes to multi-site youth ministry, do it or don’t do it—don’t just kind of do it. I can’t say this any more fervently: If you’re going to do multi-site youth ministry, you have to do it all the way (see resolutions #1 and #2). Otherwise you’ll be left feeling as if you’re spinning your wheels “doing” a bunch of things and never really seeing the fruits of your labor.
This is just the beginning of this discussion. My prayer is that this conversation—which is long overdue—will continue from here.
Rob Bergman is the pastor of youth ministries at The Crossing, a multi-site church in St. Louis, MO. Rob has served in youth ministry for 15 years and has a passion for leading, strategizing, and teaching students, volunteers, and other youth pastors. He has had the privilege of writing, speaking, and coaching through various national and global youth ministry organizations. He’s married to Rachel, and they have two elementary-school-age kids, Caden and Claire.
Photo provided by Dave77459.
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.