Now that we have prayed and asked our two important questions, it’s time to start the search. To read the first part of this series on how to get started, click here.
Building a Youth Ministry Team Part Two: Starting the Search
Step #3 – Start Searching
Now that you’ve prayed and know what you are looking for, you need to find people to ask. If you are like me, you may struggle with that. You might not know many people in the church yet. You might struggle thinking of names if you’ve been there awhile. If this is you, I have two words for you: Church Directory. Flip through that bad boy on your own and with your pastor or Leadership team and ask yourself the following questions:
- Who is already serving in Leadership Positions?
When I have a group of names of people to ask, my pastor asks me to run them past him. At first, I didn’t understand why – but then, as we went through the list, I realized that every person I thought of was already serving in some way. That does not necessarily disqualify people from being adult leaders, but it certainly changes things.
For example, if someone is on your Church Council and another group or board their time is probably sparse. They have families and lives outside of church and are already serving. If we simply ask the same people to serve, we fall into the trope of “10% of the church does 100% of the work.” Know who is already serving and find out from others if they would be willing to serve more. I encourage you to look at other avenues.
- Who has served, but currently isn’t?
This may look like the first question, but it’s different. Who served as a Sunday School teacher at one point (maybe even when your Senior High Youth were little) but haven’t served much since? Ask them! Sometimes people serve for a while, then take a much-needed break. However, some of those people might not be jumping up and down in the front row of church to serve again – they need to be asked!
- Who has not served, but has shown interest (or should be serving)?
When we look for members to serve on our Mission and Ministry Team (Church Council), this is the group we spend a lot of time talking about. You might not know the answer to this question, but there is bound to be at least one person at church who does – or thinks they do. Who was asked to serve but said, “Right now isn’t a great time”? Another way to look at this is to think of people who may serve groups in your community (Optimist Clubs, sports booster clubs, etc.). Perhaps they want to (or should be) using those gifts and talents at church in some way.
- Who works for a local school or with Youth?
This is a question my pastor and I ask each other often, and to be honest, doesn’t yield a lot of response for us. However, that does not need to deter you! My wife Hannah is a high school English teacher, and she would love to serve our Junior High Youth Group – but the school she teaches is 45 minutes away from church. Even if she left right after school, she wouldn’t make it to Junior High Youth Group in time. Moral of that short story – there are people that work with Youth in some capacity (teachers, social workers, librarians, etc.) in your church who would love to serve alongside you.
- Who is a concerned adult?
Do you have people that ask what the Youth are up to? Do you have people who want to know what the Youth need (meals, service opportunities, etc.)? Ask those people if they want to help! At my church we had a couple who did not help on Wednesday nights. However, they would go to the store for me to keep the Youth fridge and freezer stuffed with soda and pizza. They wanted to help in some way, but Wednesday nights did not work for them – but going to the store after work and dropping it all off at the Youth Room did. Their service saved me at least an hour a week to focus on other areas of ministry – valuable time! Find adults that care about the Youth group and tap into them!
- Are there younger adults at church?
Does your church have people in their 20s-30s? Are they responsible & able to pass a background check (something all your Leaders should do)? Those are the people your Youth Group (and church) needs in Leadership! Countless studies are showing that churches with young people serving in Leadership roles have hugely positive impacts on the church. Just in Youth Ministry, the impact of younger adults walking alongside the Youth is huge and helps with retention of those Youth in the future! It also gives them a steppingstone into other areas of leadership at your church.
- Which Youth have parents in your church?
You may ask, “Why is this towards the bottom of this list?” It’s towards the bottom because Adult Leaders do not just need to be parents. My first year in ministry, of the seven Leaders I had only two who had Youth. The other 5 – the 5 that left that year – had been parents of Youth but did not at the time. Yes, you need parents in your Youth Group Leadership – never forget that! They can help you with knowing events at the local high school(s), familial traditions around town, etc. However, don’t let this be a crutch – especially if you do not have many parents who want to serve as Adult Leaders.
Once you have gone through the directory or database you may have a large list of people who could serve. Hopefully they are of different age ranges and backgrounds. Now you are ready to start asking. We will talk more about how you can do that with the future in mind in the last part of this series!