Building a Clone Army
by Chad Minter
If you are in some sort of youth ministry position, then you know that ministry is a balancing act. Your schedule is crazy packed and full of odd things like shopping for 1,000 ping pong balls, ordering inhuman amounts of pizza, going to middle school band concerts, and prepping for a message on 2 Kings 2:23-25. Let’s admit it, it is intriguing at least. I mean, who hasn’t gotten the weird looks from the clerk while in line at the grocery store? Depending on the day, you could be doing a myriad of things. But which things on your to-do list take the priority? Studying for the lesson that you have to give? Visiting the dad of one of your students who is in the hospital with terminal cancer? Contacting everyone who missed youth group last week? Or maybe you would even give attending a student’s soccer game precedence. I think we would all be in agreement that everything that has been listed are good things and have to be done. Some days, it would just be nice to “Jango Fett” yourself. But that’s not entirely possible… or is it?
If you divided your week out into things that you absolutely had to do yourself, things that only you could accomplish, what would that look like? Obviously, you cannot send one of your volunteers to sit in on staff meeting for you, but what about giving some of your teaching responsibilities away? Or even, instead of designing that super cool new flyer for the evangelism event that you are having next month, you find someone with good designing sense to draft it for you. Believe me, I know what you are thinking. “But teaching is one of my favorite things I do all week.” “Are you kidding me? I am the only one in this entire church who knows anything exists other than Microsoft Clip Art.” I get it. It’s is hard to give up things, especially when you know you could be doing them better. But what is “better”? Does “better” mean that it meets or exceeds YOUR standards for how YOU want things done? Let me challenge you with this: Your ministry is better when you equip other people to use their gifts to continue the work you are doing. Before you say “Wow! this guy has it all together, and if I pay $99.95 then he will teach me the right way to do things,” let me tell you that I still have a problem with holding on to responsibilities (You can still send me the $99.95 though).
What I would encourage you to do is to take some time to get organized. Begin to separate tasks that you don’t HAVE to do. Maybe for a week or two, start writing everything that you do onto one piece of paper, then begin to divide those items out. To start off, it may be simple things like making copies of small group materials or having someone else plan and pick up the snacks and drinks for youth group. The big idea here is that you attach some sort of responsibility to them so that they stick. People need to feel needed if they are going to stay connected to your ministry. What would your ministry look like if you began to delegate some easy tasks? It would be a win for all parties involved. It would free you up to pray and dream a little more for your ministry, as well as providing volunteers ways they can serve and use their gifts.
But I am not just referring to unloading a bunch of your work so that you can take a nap after lunch, or even so that you can do some extra church “stuff.” I am talking about beginning the process of multiplying yourself and your ministry. More than just having things for people to do, we should be equipping them and providing them training to help exercise their gifting. Having adult volunteers working in your student ministry goes way deeper than just allowing them to take some work off of you so that you can focus more on relationships with students and parents. It is your job as a pastor to come alongside people and help them become all that God has created them to be. Too often pastors, me included, come at ministry with the “Lone Ranger approach to ministry.” What we do is, instead of communicating to our people the vision God has given to us and allowing them to be part of the body of Christ, we charge full force ahead, forgetting what we are truly called to do. What we leave behind is a group of people who are not invested in our ministry; they are not happy because they aren’t serving, and we are tired and frustrated going at it alone.
More than likely your ministry has some sort of direction. This can be derived from your purpose statement or written goals. If one of your reasons for ministry is to evangelize the lost, then it would be a great idea to have an adult volunteer who lives and breathes ministry to lost teenagers. If you don’t have that person already involved in your student ministry, pray and ask God to show you that person. Once you have that person in mind, begin to share with them how your student ministry fits into God’s plan to see the lost saved. Invite them to be creative in ways to reach them — whether it be programs to draw them in or friendship evangelism. Continue combing through other areas of your purpose statement the same way. Soon you will have every aspect of your ministry covered by attaching a name to a reason your ministry exists. From that point, it is a matter of communicating your continued vision for their areas.
This isn’t something that you can try for a week or two and expect great results. After all, It took nearly ten years to build the Clone army ordered by the Jedi. You must be committed. In a sense, there is more work that needs to be done on the front end, but after a while you will begin to see and hear the change. It is also not a one-time fix. You are always going to be needing to recruit, train, and invest in new leaders as your ministry grows. Your ministry will not only be better for it now, but also in the years down the road as the impact on your community continues to grow.