Everything is going great. The student ministry is growing, students are getting involved. Adults are getting excited about student ministry and joining the volunteer team. The youth pastor is stoked about how well things are going. Each week he is knocking it out of the park when he teaches. Daily he is making contacts with students. His social media posts are killing it. The presentation slides and graphics he is preparing each week are really capturing attention during his talks. The four major events he is planning for the coming year are on track as he looks at his calendar and makes the calls, reservations, spreadsheets and writes the curriculum needed for the events.
Then just as things are going great this youth pastor is noticed by another church who is searching out a new youth pastor for their student ministry. After thinking and praying through the move the youth pastor turns in his two weeks notice and resigns as student pastor. Now he is excited about the new plans he has for the new church and the move he is about to make.
Fast forward a month. The church he just left cancels the event for that month. No one is sure what to do at youth group on Wednesday evening. No one knows how to plan an event. Not one volunteer has any access to students contact info so they can continue making contacts with students like the old youth pastor used to do. No one knows how to log in or use the social media accounts. The video projector and computer sit unused at youth group because no one is sure how to make the slides. The four major events are now on hold, no one is sure how to proceed. The student ministry goes on “pause” while they wait for the church to hire a new youth pastor to come in and pick up where the old youth pastor left off. Half the student quit attending because their buddy, the adult that invested into them, is no longer there.
This is what happens when a ministry is built on a personality instead of built on vision and purpose. This is what happens when a youth pastor fails to bring people on board in leadership and planning and mentoring. The “do it all” youth pastor who felt successful due to everything on his calendar failed the student ministry by not equipping leaders, by not turning others loose to do ministry.
Steps to avoid the personality trap:
- Bring on volunteers to the team and equip them to lead.
- Focus on leaders just as much as on students.
- Don’t micromanage those who are given responsibility.
- Make sure adult leaders are investing in students lives outside of the weekly youth group gathering.
- Teach others how to plan and think through an event.
- Allow others to teach and share the message at youth group.
- Train and equip students and adult volunteers to minister.
Strive to build a students ministry that will thrive long after you are gone. When the student ministry is built on the vision and purpose of the church the student ministry continues after the youth pastor is gone.