Leading Youth Leaders

Typically, its easier to gain influence with students in a church organization. This is because youth pastors can infuse more time and energy with teens given their schedule and your ability to provide services that connects with them. For this reason influence also tends to come more quickly with teens.

Now, influence comes more slowly for adults – young adults, parents, and grandparents – your sponsors. The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority. If you think people will follow you simply because you have REV in front of your name your in for a rude awakening. People will follow because they see your influence. They feel your impact. They sense your sincerity. They realize your right on an issue.

To create a team of people that can help you grow a youth ministry. You need some things first.

  1. A vision that they buy into.
  2. A team that they want to be on.
  3. A community they want to experience.
  4. A culture of trust they can depend on.

If you haven’t put the time in with young adults, parents and grand parents to begin building vision, team values, community and culture then you need to refocus on this. We never arrive on this stuff – we are always arriving. The most important person you will be doing this with is your lead pastor. Some of these will be more easier on board then others. I just completed AMCR’s for our district and discovered that the average age of a pastor in the Assemblies of God as of 2011 is 55 years old. So when you graduate you will have around 30 year difference in age with your “boss.”

Generally they may not understand youth culture. Its your job to both get on board with their vision but also to help them understand why your vision for youth ministry can help them with their vision of reaching the lost. I can’t stress this enough. When you sign on with whatever church you do, you need to work at befriending and finding time with your lead pastor. Even if they are busy you find ways to get involved so that they are hearing you.

Before I go into this >>> Here’s the real benefit. If you will take these principles and begin working some of them into the way you lead you will have plenty of people to run your media on Wednesday night, train the youth drama skits, meet and greet, set your youth missions trip and many of the other tasks necessary for a dynamic youth ministry in just about any church size that can afford a youth pastor.

I have narrow this down to six fundamental questions great youth leaders ask. And here they are:

  1. How do you create a vision for your youth ministry that other leaders will buy into? –“Come help us on Wednesday Night” Sound bite isn’t going to cut it.”

Create opportunities in your youth ministry calendar year to connect with parents, grandparents and families of students in your youth ministry. Look for regularly scheduled big group and small group settings. Youth Ministry in today’s word also means giving your parents biblical models of parenting. But these opportunities to connect with the adults in your church need to have windows of the following to create and birth vision in your parents, college students, grandparents. These need to be exclusively for the parent. You could call them parent night. They need to be fun but you need to make them important. I would do them quarterly or bi-monthly. 1-2 hours –

They need moments of inspiration about what makes them being involved in ym through metaphors, analogies. Techniques should include storytelling. A Charismatic leader leverages 2 types of power. Referent power –the ability to influence others because of one’s desirable traits and characteristics. And expert power – specialized knowledge, skills and abilities. Steve Jobs – Getting people to know you’re an expert takes a level of confidents and competence. Sometimes you need to be confident. This isn’t pride its think about yourself the way Jesus does – no more – no less. Sometimes we can use false humility as a smoke screen for a lack of confidence. If your not confident work at whatever it is until you feel strong. Practice, practice, practice. Be enthusiastic, optimistic and energetic. Be persistent. Remember peoples names. – You should know every persons name in your church – that’s there for 20 times or more in a year.

  1. How do you get great people and make a team out of them? How do you take business people, school teachers, college students, moms and dads and make them a team? This is probably one of the most important questions you need to ask and ask yourself over and over? Great coaches can take stars and make a team out of them. Great youth pastors can do the same thing.

So how do you do this.

  1. Raise people’s awareness. Why is this important?
  2. Help People look beyond self-interest.
  3. Help People Search for Self-Fulfillment. > I am a youth pastor coach in some ways. I am demanding. I think people can be better than they think they can be. Help people go beyond their minor satisfactions to quest self-fulfillment. If they are walking away from you consistently inspired and finding themselves more focused at their daily life – They will want to be on your team. Many adults haven’t grown up – don’t let them use religion as an excuse for personal responsibility. – They will try. Stop them.
  4. Give busy people a sense of urgency. They don’t want to be involved – why is the time now to invest. Don’t give up when people aren’t commitment. People need to be unhooked from workholistic tendencies.
  5. Create a team identity by doing community building exercises. This can be an annual retreat. Going to a conference together. Doing something that none of you have done before. It could be a ropes course, skydiving – Tell your Sky Diving Story….
  6. You personally commit to greatness. Make it your attitude.
  7. When you fail don’t give up. (NCU Story – Failing to become an RA…twice. Said I was too driven…)
  8. How do you provide education on matters of spirituality and leadership for people who think they are already educated? Especially when they are older and more experienced than you. Or they have teens and you don’t even have kids. You demonstrate that you have something to teach them. Be the smartest person in the room biblically. Read tons of parenting books. Be the youth culture expert.

Every time you do a story – especially a familiar one – find some way to make it brand new – (Modernize it: )

Show people the need for a relook at something that they may have visited before but need to revisit.

Know stuff about their kids they don’t – and demonstrate to them that it takes more than just them to raise their kid well but – show them that you the youth pastor can make them the parent the Hero. If the youth pastor is constantly making the parent the hero – what’s going to happen? Every once in a while I will run into a yp that is vilifying parents – and there are parents that fail their kids but you should never make a spectacle out of them in a youth ministry large group setting. That will kill your other parents trust.

Your ministry should have a fresh insight each night. – It will keep them coming back for more.

Work at getting other experts involved in your ym. Teachers and College Professors.

  1. How do you motivate leaders who have other things to do in their own professions, personal life and in the church? (I think that motivating volunteers is the highest level of executive management.) This becomes even more important after you have a team that’s been together for a long time and through several youth pastor transitions. Big thing is to respect people’s time and resources. Give the ones worth of a good youth ministry job – a good job. Give the right people the right job. Don’t put the successful business person in charge of greeting ask them to help lead the youth missions trip by managing the whole trip. They don’t need to be in the ym week in and week out but give them – the paper work and trip resources to plan the trip. You just manage setting them up. They will relish it. You get to take the back seat but you’ve added the leader.

Expectancy Theory. Reward in Return. Reward doesn’t have to be financial. People will make judgments about continuing to be involved with the student ministry – if they know your expectation. They will have to propensity to be more motivated.

Leadership Skills associated:

  1. Determine what levels and kinds of performance are needed to achieve organizational goals.
  2. Make the performance level attainable by the individuals being motivated.
  3. Train and encourage people.
  4. Make explicit the link between rewards and performance. (Personal opinion I would financially focus on putting more stock in motivating leaders than students. If you got a great team students will follow.)
  5. Analyze what factors work in opposition to the effectiveness of the reward.
  6. Explain the meaning and implications of second-level outcomes.

Use Recognition to Motivate.

  1. Compose a list of all the important people that lead in ministry.
  2. Review list 2 times a week and ask “Did someone on this page do something I should recognize?”
  3. Give public and personal recognition.
  4. How do you gain and keep other leaders’ trust, the vital capital that your own leadership depends on?

– Practical Tips:

  1. Treat each person as the most important you will meet that day. They just might be it.
  2. The Effectiveness of a handshake. Project care and concern. Think a positive thought about person as you shake.
  3. Give sincere compliments. Most people thrive on positive comments. Effective leaders compliment to gain influence especially over behavior.
  4. Thank people frequently, especially your own team members. Even when you did most of the work. J
  5. Smile frequently even if you are not in a happy mood.
  6. Be more animated than others.