Youth Ministry Pro Tip: Team Night
“Me think, why waste time say lot word, when few word do trick.” – Kevin Malone.
Don’t let this phrase be your Youth Ministry mantra. Sometimes Youth Ministry can feel like a runaway train. We have a million tasks to do, and far less time to accomplish them! With so many tasks, and so many priorities (not to mention our home lives), our ministries can collapse into the bare-minimum rather than the full plan that we had in mind! We have plans for leadership development, volunteer training, amazing games, life changing lessons, and instead we just try to successfully deliver the bare minimum, because, to paraphrase Youth Ministry genius Kevin Malone, “Few word do trick”.
If you find yourself stuck in the cycle of just scraping by (and trust me, I’ve been there), and you want to speak volumes without saying many words (i.e. without breaking the bank, or draining your weekly hours), start with training your leaders. If you want leaders that volunteer long-term, and grow your ministry, then add Team Nights to your ministry.
Team Nights are simple. A regularly scheduled time for your Leaders to DEBRIEF, TRAIN & BE ENCOURAGED. You don’t need luxurious gifts, amazing food, or high-quality training videos. All you need is to set regular time aside for you and your Leaders to support one another, and feel valued. Here’s some simple tips to get you started with planning your first Team Night!
Meet Regularly. Quarterly or every other month to start.
We started by meeting every other month. Many of our Leaders are only available on our Youth Night, which made extra meetings a challenge in the past. So to make them happen, and because I believe in the power of Team Nights, we ask parents to host a movie night or other hangout night for our students so that our busy leaders can meet together on the night they are already free. Make it a priority, and you will see amazing growth in your Leaders and in your ministry.
Asking parents to fill in every other month might seem like a lot, but remember to schedule Team Nights tactfully. Plan one the week before youth starts, over Christmas break or during a slower week. All of these maintain regularity and ensure that parents feel utilized and not burnt out.
1/3 Your Voice, and 2/3 Theirs.
Your Leaders have experience. Use it! Give them time to offer insights into the ministry (Debrief), to train one another (Train), and offer support (Encouragement). You don’t need to know everything; that’s why we have Leadership Teams. Try this schedule out to minimize your voice, and empower the voices of your Leaders:
7:00-7:30 Social Time. Don’t think of this as wasted time! This is Team Unity.
7:30-8:00 Debrief. What is going well? What has been challenging? What needs improvement?
8:00-8:20 Pastor Training. Ministry Policies, Vision Casting, etc. This is “Your Voice” time.
8:20-8:40 Learning from One Another. Tips for Small Groups, Games that work, etc.
8:40-9:00 Encouragement. Prayer, encouraging words, etc.
Choose a location that creates comfort, and promotes discussion.
A night at the movies might limit your ability to hear your leaders’ voices. Pick a location that is special (i.e not your Youth Room), and make it comfortable. Meet in your living room, ask a Youth Leader to host, or meet at a hipster coffee shop. Somewhere that feels extra-special and yet comfortable. You’d be surprised at the power of a living room hangout.
P.S Don’t be afraid to mix it up a few times a year and, if the budget allows, throw the schedule out the window and just hangout with your leaders! If your team needs a boost of unity, nothing does it better than shooting each other with lasers at Laser Tag or relaxing by the pool.
Food! It is one thing can promote discussion, create unity, and make a person feel valued.
Food is a powerful tool. Bake cookies, make sundaes, have a BBQ. All of these make people feel valued. If your budget can’t afford gift cards and luxurious thank you gifts, don’t sweat it! A word to the wise. If you want to kill two birds with one stone, don’t buy pre-made food. There’s something about homemade food (or things that looks homemade) that feels far more special. “Cough,” and it’s usually cheaper, “cough.”
Make your nights flexible.
Don’t be afraid to throw the plan out the window. You know your Leaders, you know their culture, and you know how youth group went last week. Maybe you had a 30-minute vision casting session planned, when all they need is a prayer session. Maybe you planned training on small groups, but you know a leader struggled with supporting a student who feels like they don’t fit in. Trust the Holy Spirit, and know that if you meet, and everyone has a voice, good things will happen.
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.