I'm currently doing some research for Exodus World Service, an organization that mobilizes the Christian community to welcome refugees. As part of this, I was reading some background information on the organization written by one of it's founders, Heidi Moll Schoedel. In it, Heidi states, “The quality of support we provide to our volunteers has a direct correlation with the long-term impact of our volunteers.”
Isn't that also true in youth ministry?
If so, then supporting leaders should be a priority in every youth ministry. Here are 10 ways every youth ministry can and should support their leaders:
1. Train leaders. I've lost track of how many times I've met with a potential leader who has said, “I'd love to help but I don't know how to work with teenagers!” or “I don't know how to lead a Bible study!” Don't let this be a barrier to serving in your ministry! If people love God and like teenagers, through quality training, we can equip them with the skills they'll need to thrive in ministry. So schedule regular training for your leaders. Use your training times to equip leaders to lead Bible studies, deal with various personality-types, handle crises, and understand youth culture. Doing so will create community in and amongst your leaders while also giving them the confidence to lead effectively.
2. Resource leaders. Provide your leaders with books and articles that will help them more effectively minister to teens.
3. Affirm leaders & offer constructive feedback. Pay attention to your leaders. When you catch them doing something good in your ministry, tell them so. In the same way, coach them. Provide them with direct and ongoing feedback that will help them minister even more effectively to the teens in your ministry.
4. Protect leaders. When they make a mistake, defend them. If someone is upset, intervene. Make it clear that criticism comes to you; That it's not OK for people to rant and rave at your leaders.
5. Give leaders time off. Remember that your leaders are volunteer, not paid. Don't ever make them feel imprisoned by your ministry. Instead, willingly give them time off. Take breaks during the holidays and summer that will force them to take time off. Beyond that, when a leader needs a week off – for ANY reason – give it to them!