November 6, 2012

5 Reasons Your Youth Ministry Won’t Change


Over the past few months (and since I released my book), God has blessed and I have been able to do more training and teaching for youth ministry leaders and youth ministries.  In almost every meeting, workshop, or coffee shop talk there are things that come up, which stick out as a reason why the youth ministry won’t grow and they ALL have to do with change.  We have heard it said before that anything that doesn’t change isn’t growing and will sooner or later die; but in ministry we usually like things the way they currently are. Here are 5 reasons I think your youth ministry won’t change, and as a result, won’t grow:

Often change is tied to growth - no change, no growth; but why won’t our youth ministry change?

  • You only focus on one area of ministry:  It is easy to have a “favorite” group of students or a “favorite” ministry that you really like, and while this is to be expected, it is not healthy to only focus on these areas.  If you only pour into a certain set of students, then the rest will be lacking that knowledge. If you only focus on one ministry, then the others will lack leadership.  As youth leaders, we have to make sure that we are “re-producing” ourselves so that we can develop other leaders to help us pour into ALL of the students as well as the leaders who serve with us. In this way we provide leadership to ALL ministries, even the ones that aren’t our “favorites.”  Just because I am not as excited about one ministry as I am about another doesn’t mean that the other ministry needs to suffer.
  • You only talk with leaders when they serve: I am busy like almost every youth leader that I know, but I have also learned that if I only connect with those leaders whom I serve with during their service time, I am not really doing a great job of engaging and interacting with them.  To that end, we schedule fellowships with the leaders outside of the areas that they serve. During this time we can talk about church stuff but also life stuff; when is the last time you asked a leader how their family was doing? How their job or their job search was going?  If we want a stronger leadership team, then it really has to be a TEAM with communication outside of their service to the ministry.
  • You haven’t changed: The youth ministry won’t change if we as the leaders don’t push to change and grow.  The word LEADer is used on purpose as it relates to us and our role. We are supposed to LEAD and if we aren’t changing, then there is no way for our ministry to change, because we haven’t modeled change.  Every time I learn something new or I change something I make sure to inform the team of those changes so they see that I am willing to change what I initially thought was a great idea.  Change will breed change.
  • You don’t have a vision or plan for growth: Every ministry needs a plan and a vision. Many of the youth ministry leaders I sit with for the first time overlook the importance of having a strong and solid vision or plan for where they believe God is leading them and their ministry.  Now you might not list everything in detail, but you should at least have some of the pieces together. So while you might not have a full 12-month plan or even a 10-month plan, you should know the ministry purpose or vision.  Why are you in ministry, why do you believe God has placed you over this youth ministry?  Every ministry has the charge to do something, what is your youth ministry charged to do?
  • You try to do it all and don’t involve or look to Jesus: I have seen so many youth ministries that do event after event, service after service, lock-in after lock-in and don’t stop to seek God for what they are really supposed to be doing.  Now, I do believe that God lives on the inside of us and is in our ministries, so some of the time we can move from ministry to ministry and not have to stop for a long time because God is clear on what we are to do. But there should be some time where you stop or at least slow down and seek God for evaluation on what has happened and for guidance on what is next.  God won’t allow us to lead change in our ministries if we don’t seek Him for the change in the first place.

I truly believe that change in ministry is needed and even in youth ministry, but far too often we don’t want to change because it’s too much work.  Do the work to change …

Questions: What have you changed recently in the ministry? How would you change your ministry? What would you add? What shouldn’t we change? 

Originally Published: November 6, 2012
Category: Youth Leaders
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