The 3 most important concepts for your team

Joseph Fowler
May 18th, 2021

The most effective ministries have the most passionate and prepared teams. The only way that your student ministry team is going to perform at a high-level is if you are training them to do so. This might be a team of staff, or it might just be the best and the brightest from all over the church who have answered the call (or ad in the bulletin) to serve middle and high school students. Furthermore, your “team” might only be you and one other person. Either way, if you lead them well, your ministry will thrive. 

Many of us find ourselves with so many things to communicate to our church and our students, that we tend to allow our team to enter cruise control. They are doing their jobs well enough, why push further? Perhaps you are not even at that point yet, and you are just now onboarding new team members, or forming a team for the very first time. When it comes to managing the schedules of those who serve with you, volunteer or not, time is precious. So the question begs, “What do we prioritize?” when communicating to our teams and building a strong culture. I have what I consider the three most important concepts to communicate to a team in order to build a team that thrives, scales to a growing ministry and becomes the standard by which all the other ministry teams look up to.

Don’t forget to have fun!

If we are honest with ourselves, this is completely obvious. We literally get to throw food, play video games, and ultimate Frisbee as a major part of our jobs! However, in the week to week work of preparing lessons, checking on students, and dealing with parents, we can reprioritize things in such a way that we forget that it is all supposed to be fun! Not every part of ministry is fun, far from it, but fun, having laughs and smiling big, can break down lots of walls with students. It can also be the one thing that makes your ministry more effective. It starts with you, the leader, but trickles down from your team to your students in such a way as to create a unique culture of joy. That culture will drive everything. It will be something worth inviting people into, and not just students. I cannot emphasize enough how important it has been in growing our team in my own ministry. My volunteers (we call them “servant leaders”) have already gotten word out, and by the time I make a phone call someone will say, “I have been waiting for a chance to serve with students!” A culture of fun becomes a recruitment strategy.

1-Hour is Not Enough

As the heading suggests, we have limited time with students, and it is not enough. Ministry leaders understand this, and it is our job to not only be good stewards of the time we are given with the students that we have, but to also try and multiply that time when and where we are able. Our volunteer teams most likely work, many full-time employees, somewhere. So how are we supposed to ask them to multiply their time? It is a big request to ask our team to go above and beyond the hour or so that we have asked them to fill on Sundays or midweek. We have to communicate how important they are in our student’s lives. They are one of the single-most consistent adult voices in these students’ lives. These leaders have the advantage of being a contributing voice in the ever-changing life of a teen, that do not look down with the judgmental eye that teens tend to look at adults in authority with. When the right relationship is established, our leaders can be the wise, old friend that a student can lean on, rather than an authority figure trying to tell them how to live their lives. In order to have the right relationship for this to work, it is important to show students that we care about them more often than we see them at church. Challenge your team to try their best to make contacts, go to games, or find other ways to let students know that they are cared for beyond their attendance at church. 

Discussion > Lecture

There is no denying that students don’t love sitting through classes all day, every day. So, when we turn our small group Bible studies into “classes,” there is an automatic boredom switch that flips simply because of the way we have structured our meetings. Even if you are in a traditional “Sunday School” format, it does not mean that the teacher has to lecture. There are larger theological implications at play, one being that our faith is much more experiential than it is intellectual. If we treat our groups like lecture-style classes, we will not only lose the engagement of our students, but we will also run the risk of communicating faith in a strict head-knowledge type of way, rather than a fully relational way.

While there are lots of important things that you will need to communicate to your teams, I believe that these three are foundational to creating an incredible and productive student ministry culture. Ultimately, your culture will drive everything else you do as a team and as a ministry.

Joseph Fowler

Joseph has served in ministry for 14+ years. His passion is to reach the next generation and equip them to be fully functioning followers of Christ. He currently serves as the Pastor of Student Ministries at at CrossPointe Church, having lived and served all around Alabama, as well as speaking around the U.S. and the world. He graduated from the University of Alabama, and he went on to complete his Masters of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, AL. He and his wife, Kinsley, have two little boys named Camden and Cohen. He is an avid outdoorsman, sports fanatic and pop culture connoisseur.

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