#8 Align with the church
One of the most problematic areas of Youth Ministry is misalignment with the church. Through either unintentional vision leak or intentional redirection, all too often youth ministries have a tendency to “go off the farm” and create their own vision/mission, expectations and overall focus. The result, most often is the silo effect within the ministry. This, if left unchecked, will ultimately lead to marginalization at best and implosion of the ministry at worst. Scripture is clear that one of the keys to effective ministry is unity Eph. 4:1-6.
The precipitating cause behind misalignment is typically one of two things, or a combination thereof. The first is an inability of the senior pastor to lead. If you are serving in a secondary role of leadership you cannot change the leader, but you can serve well so that the pastor leads better. The Bible is full of serving ‘first chair’ leaders well: Moses – Joshua, Elijah – Elisha, Paul – Barnabus, etc.
The second precipitating cause of misalignment is an unwillingness to follow. While there may be a multiplicity of reasons as to why the Youth Pastor doesn’t want to follow the Pastor, but to not do so is rebellion.
Here’s the two-fold challenge for many youth pastors – they have a heart and vision for leading, but are in a position that requires living in the tension between leading and following. You must remember that you are not ultimately in charge of the church or organization. When you “signed on” to be part of the team you agreed to submit yourself to the leadership of that team. If you didn’t agree with the philosophy, direction, or leadership, you should not have joined. Note this: You will never lead well until you’re willing to follow well.
Here are a few keys to staying aligned and responsive to your leaders:
- Keep your supervisor fully informed about the ministry you lead. Asking forgiveness rather than permission is a bad idea.
- Listen to people’s concerns and adjust your plans as necessary. There is wisdom in the abundance of counselors (Prov. 15:22).
- When you’re criticized, don’t react defensively. Instead, learn from the criticism and work with your critics to find creative solutions to problems.
- When asked to do something comply first, make appeals second. The temptation is to do the opposite, which normally results in tension, lack of trust, and being labeled as rebellious.
Lead well by following well…sort of reminds you of Jesus doesn’t it? “The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” John 5:19