“My leaders are so busy.”
“I don’t know how to ask them to give any more, they are maxed!”
“I have a slew of college age leaders, but I can’t seem to get adults to lead in our ministry.”
“I have a bunch of parent age leaders, but I can’t seem to get any college students to lead in our ministry.”
As I’ve worked with youth pastors and leaders across the country, many of them are asking questions that have to do with the adult leaders who are investing in their ministry. We always have big dreams for what could be in our ministries and in our students. But who we are bringing along with us matters. I’ve always said that the quality of my ministry is dependent upon my leaders – I’m only as good as my team. Investing in team is one of my passions, so here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.
If you want to have highly engaged adult leaders:
1. Give them a vision worth following.
What are you calling them into? No, I don’t mean loving students…even they know that. What are you asking them to build with you? What has the Lord spoken to you about the ministry you are leading? What makes your ministry unique to the one down the street? That’s the beauty of churches that look different – it helps us reach different kinds of people that don’t know Jesus yet! So what exactly has the Lord asked YOU to do/build/lead? How will your ministry impact the neighborhood/community/world around you?
If you want leaders who will be just as passionate about your ministry and students as you are, they need a vision worth following. Articulate well what the Lord is calling THIS ministry to in THIS time.
2. Be a leader worth following.
No, I don’t mean be the superstar. We have enough of those. I mean do more than plug them into a volunteer role – invite them to follow your LIFE. Invest in them! You’d be surprised how many of our best leaders have never been invested in and discipled! Lead them by discipling them – not because of what they are doing for you, but because you believe in them and want them to go further than you.
Give your team a backstage pass to your life. Let them in on what God is saying to you and what you’re going to do about it. Let them see what you’re wrestling with God on. If you want students to follow their life, let your leaders follow yours.
3. Know their strengths and give them something to lead.
Ministries who let their leaders LEAD are very different from ministries who give volunteers a task. If you want high capacity leaders to invest heavily and really go for it and lead with gusto in your ministry, that means you are going to have to step out of the way and legitimately allow them to lead.
How are they wired? What are they good at? Where are their passions?
Knowing their base 5-fold gift and perhaps even their Myers Briggs or Strength Finders is incredibly helpful. Release your pastors to really pastor and shepherd the students in their care. Bring your apostles around you to dream into the future and take risks towards Kingdom breakthrough. Let your evangelists tell stories and celebrate what God is doing. Knowing your leaders well gives you more insight into how to release them to lead, and where to help them grow.
4. Let them be the hero.
I believe one of the biggest obstacles to having highly engaged leaders who have ownership and something to lead in our ministry is our desire to be the center of attention. Let’s face it, we kind of like being the one who is needed for everything. We like having control over what is taught, how it’s taught and how well it’s executed. We can say it’s in the name of excellence, but it’s more in the name of me being the greatest.
The Kingdom goes further when we give it away, multiply ourselves and make more! On my team, I want my leaders to be the hero. I want to set them up to win. I want to equip them to be the greatest disciplers on the face of the planet so there is crazy breakthrough happening all over the place in the lives of our students. But in order for them to be the hero, I need to go to the cross again with my need for affirmation and my ambition to be the best.
Great leaders start with great leadership. In Mark 3, we see Jesus called his disciples to come WITH him, and then gave them authority to do the things he had been doing. We get to follow His lead, calling our leaders to come WITH us – to follow our life, to come with us in what the Father has asked us to build in this season, and then to invest in them to go further than us!