Favored Leaders

I love my youth ministry’s adult leaders. They’re the backbone of my youth ministry. They’re people I’ve recruited, equipped, and mentored. Some have served with me for almost a decade. I take caring for them seriously.

In my context, adult leaders commit to serving in one specific area of ministry – typically one of our two weekly programs. After that, they’re always welcome, but never obligated to attend our events. Thankfully, because adult leaders feel called to their ministry with students, most willingly commit to serve during extra events.

Because youth ministry is relational and my regular adult leaders already have relationships with our students, they’re the first people I ask to go on major events like our winter retreat and summer mission trip. It’s only when I can’t get enough of our regular adult leaders to serve during these events that we ask other congregational leaders or parents to go.

For some, this approach to leadership is controversial. It looks like favoritism. After all, they wonder, isn’t the goal of ministry to get as many people involved in it as possible?

Sure, I’d say. A congregation’s goal should be for every one of its parishioners to be involved in ministry. But not every one of your congregation’s parishioners are called to serve in youth ministry.

Having good leaders in your youth ministry doesn’t require you to have the largest number of volunteers in your church. It requires you to have the RIGHT leaders: People who love Jesus, adore teenagers, want to grow in their own faith, and are good at working with teens.

Read the rest of this article here. 


For more on discipling a different kind of leader - student leaders - check out Jen's latest book, Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders. 

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, 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 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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Jen's Books

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Now Available!

Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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