A New Metric

During a recent organizational assessment I did through Arbor Research Group, I asked one of the ministry’s leaders how critical it was for his staff to recruit and equip adult leaders. In response, he said, “When they get their job description, it’s not built into what success looks like.”

Inwardly I cringed. How could recruiting and equipping adult leaders NOT be built into the job descriptions of a staff who wholeheartedly depends on adult leaders to do ministry?

Yet, even as I inwardly cringed, I feared this happens more than I want to believe.

Many churches still believe that the paid youth pastor is the person responsible for discipling youth. Far too many churches are also still built on the personality of one leader.

That’s dangerous.

When ministries are built on one person, you run the risk of quickly burning that person out.

When ministries are built on one person’s personality, you marginalize students who find it difficult to connect with that personality.

When ministries are built on one person, you limit the capacity of that ministry, ensuring that it will never grow in size or maturity.

When ministries are built on one person, you create dependency. So often in person-centered ministries, students’ faith becomes dependent on the leader, not Jesus. As a result, when the leader leaves, a student’s faith suffers.

Ministries built on one leader can never be healthy.

In contrast, when youth pastors prioritize recruiting and training adult leaders, their ministries can thrive. Adult leaders make it possible to minister to multiple types of students; to make large groups feel small; and to ensure that every student in your ministry is known, loved, and cared for individually. A team of adult leaders helps students connect with Jesus in different ways, which creates less dependency on any one person. A team of adult leaders also ensures continuity in your ministry. If the paid youth pastor leaves, goes on maternity leave, is injured, or transitions to a different role in your congregation, having a team of adult leaders ensures your youth ministry will continue.

That sounds great, right?

Read the rest of this article here. 

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the director of youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and the forthcoming A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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