It is an honor to be a part of the ministry luncheon in middle Tennessee. This month I asked two dear brothers to present some information that you will find helpful if you are in ministry. I asked Chris Webb to talk as a minister to young people about what every youth minister needs from their pulpit minister. And I asked Bryan McAlister to address: "What a preacher wishes his youth minister knew". Bryan "group-sourced" his info.
Chris is the youth minister at Centerville where Bryan preaches. They both did an excellent job. Enjoy their unedited thoughts and feel free to share your own:
What is it that every Youth Minister needs from their Pulpit Minister? A. This is a tough question. Iʼm not sure what every youth minister needs, but I can tell you that the only thing my pulpit minister has ever given me is a hard time! B. I canʼt tell you what every youth minister needs, but I can tell you what I need and appreciate from having a relationship with the pulpit minister. C. Just to give you a little background, Iʼm in my 7th year as youth minister in Centerville. For 3 of my 7 years, we did not have a pulpit minister. For the other 4 years I have worked with two different pulpit ministers. D. I have also worked with 3 other pulpit ministers on an interim basis. So I feel like Iʼve had several different experiences. II. First I want to say this, from a youth ministers point of view, having a good, close relationship with the pulpit minister is something that is desired. I want to be close to not just the pulpit minister, but to all of the ministers that work within the congregation. A. I think itʼs difﬁcult to be as effective as we can be in our ministries if we are not working together as a team of ministers. B. Also, I want to throw this out there, I plan to share a few stories today, not all of them are from my time at Centerville and none of theme necessarily reﬂect the love/hate relationship that Bryan and I have. III. The ﬁrst thing that comes to mind for me is sort of an obvious one, ENCOURAGEMENT, BOTH PUBLIC AND PRIVATE. A. As you all know, encouragement in ministry is priceless, regardless of the source. B. But one of the best things you can do from the pulpit is encourage your youth minister. C. Iʼve heard people say I donʼt do this for the pat on the back or recognition, I believe that, I donʼt think anyone in ministry does, however, I think everyone in ministry needs a pat on the back every once in a while. D. Hereʼs the cool thing about you doing it publicly though, Iʼve never had a morning where the pulpit minister praised me, or just our youth program as a whole, and not had 10 other people come up and tell me how much they appreciate what I do. E. Itʼs a great feeling for people in the church to pat you on the back every once in a while and tell you they appreciate you. Many times a small comment from the front encourages people to share that. F. Itʼs also awesome when the pulpit minister encourages you privately. Maybe just by asking how things are going, or just by telling you something positive. G. No matter how much a youth minister will deny it (to keep pulpit ministerʼs oversized egoʼs in check) we care what you think a whole lot more than perhaps we should. IV. Occasionally be INVOLVED. A. I hesitate saying this because I know one of the hard things about being a minister, regardless of title, is that you are expected to have a hand in every ministry in the church. B. What Iʼm referring to is simple, host a devo once a year. Or just poke your head into a game of dodgeball one night. C. Donʼt just walk in and load your plate up with food and leave, but just let the kids know you care about them. D. Two things that I have appreciated from Bryan that he has done since he has wore out his welcome in Centerville is this: 1. He ﬁlls in and teaches the High School class several times a year. E. The kids love this and appreciate it. F. The coolest thing was however, 2. In 2009 when he went on the youth mission trip with us. Thatʼs awesome for a youth program and a youth minister because you know your minister cares about that generation. G. I think you as a minister will also beneﬁt from the uplift that the kids will give you as well. V. EDUCATE THE CHURCH ON WHAT YOUTH MINISTRY IS. A. My experience is this, the majority of people who have never been in full time youth ministry tend to know little about what youth ministry really is. B. Several years ago we appointed a few new elders. During one of the elders meetings one of the new elders asked me in a round about way what I believed my job was at the church. C. I gave him my spill about my philosophy of youth ministry, about building relationships with the kids, helping them to know Jesus while working with parents in the church..etc D. When I was ﬁnished he looked at me and as serious as he could be and said, “So, you are really trying to evangelize these kids, huh?” E. I really just wanted to ask, exactly what do you think I do? Aside from nothing. F. As a youth minister, you sometimes get the feeling that the congregation doesnʼt see youth ministry as a real, deep ministry. Itʼs the ole rap of well, he just plays with the kids and keeps them off of the street. G. We, like most congregations, have several committees in our church. I canʼt understand that when we have our once a month youth committee meetings, we will have 10 adults show up, and another 20 come up to me after worship and say, hey, I would have been there but I have a Missions meeting, or a camp board meeting, or a pave the parking lot meeting. Itʼs interested how when there are conﬂicting meetings, the youth meeting is the one that everyone is so quick to ditch. H. As a youth minister, I need the pulpit minister to teach and preach the importance of parents getting their kids involved in the church. And not just the kids, but the parents getting involved too. I. Youth events are not just something that a parent should drop their kid off at so that they can have some free time. Itʼs an opportunity for adults to minister to children and build relationships with them. J. One of the greatest problems that I see in the church right now is parents who put ballgames, cheerleading practice and travel ball before church. We want you to help us in getting this message out that youth ministry needs parents to be involved! VI. HELP THE ELDERS, STAFF, CONGREGATION TO NOT TREAT THE YM LIKE A SECOND RATE MINISTER. A. Let me clarify this a little. B. This may only apply to the places that I have worked, Iʼm not sure, but it seems that YMʼs are often times not viewed as a real minister, whatever that is. C. To be honest, itʼs hurtful. Iʼll give you a few examples. D. If someone in the youth group is sick and in the hospital, or their grandmother has passed away, donʼt just go and visit them and never tell the youth minister. E. As the Youth Minister, I donʼt want to ﬁnd out that one of our 10th grade boys has been in Vanderbilt this weekend by reading it in the program on Sunday morning. F. Relay this information if you have it, and encourage the ofﬁce staff to do the same. G. Likewise, encourage the elders to include the youth minister in meetings and business of the church. H. Many years ago it was announced that there would be an Elders, Deacons, Ministers meeting. I asked one of our Elders at that time what time I needed to be there, he told me that this isnʼt for you, donʼt worry about it. I. Now you all may be thinking that Iʼm giving the pulpit minister too much power or too much credit, but I believe å you all are in a position to help guide the elders in learning how to have a healthy relationship with not just the YM, but all of the ministers. No minister wants to feel like he isnʼt really viewed as a real minister. VII. IF YOU THINK YOUR YOUTH MINISTER IS DOING A GOOD JOB, ENCOURAGE YOUR ELDERS TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR HIM TO STAY! A. Letʼs face it, the majority of youth ministers make half the money that a pulpit minister makes, and though you donʼt want to admit it, they work just as many hours. B. Most pulpit ministers have retirement packages, insurance, built in vacation, etc.... C. Now I can only speak for the YMʼs I know, but those things donʼt seem to exist for most youth ministers. D. My opinion and nothing more than my opinion is this, Youth Ministry has long been looked at as a stepping stone to the Pulpit. E. I believe part of the reason for this is because most youth ministers get tired of feeling like a pretend minister, making less, not have beneﬁts, etc.. and decide they need to be a preacher. F. Now obviously Iʼm not saying this is the biggest reason YMʼs go to the pulpit, but I believe it plays a role. G. Now for guys like me this is discouraging, because I donʼt want to be a pulpit minister. I want to be a youth minister. Why: Because I believe that itʼs the most important ministry in the church. H. I want to be a youth minister as long as I am effective and able. When I am not effective or able to do YM, I do not want to be a pulpit minister. I. So, in order to do that, a YM needs to be paid well, have beneﬁts, vacation, etc.... Encourage your elders to make it possible for youth ministers to retire as youth ministers. J. You may think Iʼm crazy but some of the most effective youth ministers I have ever seen are in their 50ʼs. K.Itʼs hard to work a job into your 50ʼs though making $30k a year with no beneﬁts. Encourage your elders to keep him, and encourage them to make it possible for him to stay.VIII. Lastly, PRAY FOR YOUR YOUTH MINISTER AND MAKE SURE HE KNOWS YOU ARE DOING SO. A. I believe in the power of prayer. And Iʼm here to tell you that I need all the prayer I can get. B. Once a year, every year, I want to quit. I donʼt want to be a youth minister anymore. Iʼve had kids shop lift from the mall on a trip to buy gifts for needy children. I had a kid get arrested in Gatlinburg for urinating on a public dumpster. Iʼve attended the funeral of a boy in our youth group. There is at least one time every year that I donʼt want to be a youth minister anymore. C. Thereʼs at least one time every year that I question my effectiveness. I feel like I canʼt relate to kids or perhaps Iʼm just too out of touch. D. Thereʼs at least one time every year that Iʼm gone for a week on a mission trip, retreat, etc... with other peopleʼs kids, while mine are at home calling me and telling me they miss their daddy. E. It seems in Youth Ministry that you have more parents angry with you than the ones who are lined up to pat you on the back. F. So if you canʼt do any of these other things mentioned, please PRAY for your youth minister. I can assure you that he needs it, and he appreciates it!
"What A Preacher Wishes His Youth Minister Knew" I wish he knew (I think he does know all the following) the importance of Jesus and His church. It all has to fall under, come back to, never stray from "The Lord." All the rush, activities, etc must be leading toward the Lord or don't do it! I wish he knew that being a part of the church is more important than being a part of the youth group. We speak too often (if we are not careful) about youth group activities, involvement, numbers, etc that it would be easy for a youth to misunderstand the importance of the church. I wish he knew how important his work is. The church can't be alive and excited about the future without a faithful youth group today! The youth offer so much today, and so much hope for tomorrow. I wish he knew the importance of Bible Classes that are not always taught on the level a first time visitor can grasp. Youth ministers must figure out how to take kids deeper than the introductions. I wish he knew he has the greatest potential for evangelism success than any other minister in the church. Statistics prove it. I wish he knew he needs to be a part of the ministerial team. It will make him much more well rounded for ministry if he occasionally teaches adult classes, makes hospital visits, etc. I wish he would number his days (Ps 90:12) realizing that 4 years isn't long with High Schoolers - so don't wasted time. There is so much to teach and train. I wish he knew that instruction isn't enough. He must give them opportunities to teach, preach, lead singing, organize and lead service projects, devo, etc. Junior high is the time to be heavy on instruction and high school is the time to have "heavy threefold emphases" -- instruction, experiences (let them do it) and role models (let them see someone they can look up to that does what ever God has given them the ability to do.) I want them to know that what they are doing is important and that while I know they have to have fun with the kids that they are in many ways MORE important than me. I want them to know that they need to be studying! I want them to know that the fear some older folks have of them (which is veiled as suspicion) is because of a love for the church and what it will be in the future. I want them to know that elders need to be respected - God says so - even if you disagree. I want them to know that it's not all about them. And I want them to know that just because they can deliver one good sermon a month doesn't mean they are a better preacher than the guy who has to present 11-20 a month! And I want them to know that we must have a good relationship for the good of the kingdom - that it is bigger than if we just like each other... In response to your request on what I would wish that youth ministers knew I have a couple of things other than the obvious. 1. We really do love them. 2. Their work is most important because they are not only impacting the present but they are also influencing the future (homes, society, church, etc). 3. The most important thing they can do is not to necessarily be the young people's pal. Rather, the most important thing they can do and teach is the way to heaven. 4. Youth need to understand there are boundaries. 5. Your ministry must have a purpose. 6. Don't get caught up in the "drama" of youth and parents that are protecting their children. Rather, take the criticism, learn from it, and move forward. Help the children to learn to cope. Be sure they have "family rules". My first thought when I read your e-mail was, "the Bible." And, I was going to use it because I could only think of two other ideas and just felt like I HAD to give you three points. So, here they are ... 1. Create parental involvement. 2. Help the youth to adopt a long-range vision of spiritual maturity. 3. Remember the power of example. If your main motivation is "to be liked," the young people you serve are likely to do whatever it takes in their world "to be liked." 1. That youth ministers are in fact ministers, they are not peers, they are not pals; they are ministers. 2. That being true, they should quit trying to be a kid, dress like a kid, play like a kid, etc. 3. That during Bible class time, the Bible should be studied; this is not time to "just talk." 4. That the youth ministry is not a separate entity from the church; thus youth ministers should always promote the church and love for the church in the youth group. 5. That even though his specific emphasis is youth, he is a minister to the entire congregation and should minister to all others as well. 6. That it is not his responsibility to "change" the church. The church is doing just fine, and doesn't need his "genius" to change things. I wish they knew the importance of Image: While his role may be defined as a “Youth Minister” I wish he knew he were a minister, first. There is no mold, there is no cookie cutter image, but there is the mold of Christ and the image of His identity which must be upheld. He represents the church and her work. I wish he knew the youth group is part of the church, and the church should always be given the preference in place and position when it comes to image. I wish they knew the importance of Instruction: He will encounter more and more young people who will bring searching questions, deep theological concerns; they will struggle with the identity of God, the identity of Christ, the church, and the truth. These will not be discovered without a searching of scripture that is both diligent and rightly divided (II Timothy 2:15). Bible class must emphasize the Bible. Retreats should move beyond the surface and dig into scripture and life, and the life of the Savior (that’s why He retreated). I wish they knew the importance of Inclusion: The youth group cannot be isolated from the rest of the church. When the church is ignorant about the identity, personality, and person of the youth minister and youth, all that he does or attempts to do will be suspect by the members at large. Go to these people and their homes, know them, even if they do not make it easy, know them. I wish he knew that the young people in his youth group (and yes, it will be forever labeled ‘his youth group’), if they are Christians, they are not the church of tomorrow, they are the church today! I wish they knew the importance of Investment: Our relationship has the potential to help the church or hurt her in powerful ways. Just as much as he wants the youth to be regarded as vital, it is equally vital to regard the pulpit, the preaching, and the public declaration of the word as vital to souls, even young souls. I wish he knew that no one, no matter who they, will advocate for their family quite like they themselves can and will. I wish he knew the role of the minister will always be the most visible in the church, regardless of who he is. Yet with that role as with his, will come unique expectations and criticisms. I wish he knew the earning and income potential will be dramatically different in the private sector for most all of us.