Building A Philosophy Of Sustainable Youthwork- Part 10

Building A Philosophy Of Sustainable YouthworkThis week ends our summer series on Building A Philosophy Of Sustainable Youthwork.  Our hope is that you can use all 13 principles as you shape ministry over the next school year.  In prior weeks we have focused on the first twelve principles: Youthwork is – Family Based, Congregational, Relational, Discipling, Missional, Evangelistic, Holistic, Bible Based, Experiential, Youth-led, Utilizes Open-ended Discussion and Develops Youth As Christian Leaders. This week we move onto the final principle, number thirteen:

Principle #13 – Youthwork Utilizes A team Approach

This past week a member of my congregation said to me “You know I figured out your Youth Ministry articles are not really about JUST Youth Ministry, they are about all of us as a church.” To which I said: “You are catching on!”

I am not good with sports analogies but I think when most people hear the word “team” they tend to think about sports. However, I think about “Community” and specifically the Community of the Church in a Christian context. I might even say those “Jesus People” who hang out together are the ultimate team.

Christianity was never meant to be a solitary journey of faith. We are ALL in this together. No one person alone is responsible for Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World. It always takes a team approach. This is as true for Youthwork as it is for any other part of the Church’s shared life.  If you think about it, God always works as a team, or at least that is what our theology of the Trinity tells us.

The paid Youthworker cannot do a sustainable job without the team approach.  It is never ever sustainable for a church to hire a lone-ranger type and expect that paying a staff person does the congregation’s mutual vocational work of making disciples.  Volunteers are always needed no matter what size the Youth Group is. Youth are important from every grade and must be active, have input, and develop as leaders. Parents must be involved is supportive ways. Grandparents must be involved as well.  Even your crazy uncle can be involved (we should all be somebody’s crazy aunt or uncle anyway!).

Members of the congregation whether they have teenagers or not must be involved in weekly Youthwork. This can be as simple as praying for each Youth by name, or being a prayer partner with one specific Youth. But it can also mean being a Youth Sponsor, providing the snack supper for UMYF, or going with the Youth on a retreat or on a weeklong mission trip next summer.

If I am leading a Sunday school lesson, I need at least one other adult to be there to help with any issues that arise during the discussion. If I am leading a program at UMYF, I still need adults to serve food, hang out and provide crowd control and maybe lead the program next week so that Youth can hear a variety of adult Christian voices and not just one.

What position will you play on your Youthwork Team? What needed piece will you add to your community in order to build a Sustainable Youth Program at your church? Can an adult volunteer be there once a week? Once a month? Once a year?  Talk to them about your role and their’s and then help to equip them for success on the team. Ready?

So there you have it: 13 principles to build a philosophy of sustainable youthwork.  Now take these and turn them into a document for your context.  How would you say it for your folks?  Have your Youth Council work with the document over the next school year.  Have parents live-into it.  Get your pastoral staff on board as well.  What is their individual role(s) in building sustainability?  How do they help live out these principles?  After one year,  help your Youth present this document to SPRC, Church Council, Finance and Trustees in order to help the church take their God-given responsibility for Youthwork.  It was never supposed to all be on your shoulders as the Youthworker anyway.

If you need help, drop me a note.  Good luck!


Peace and Grace,

Charles W. Harrison

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