Let It Stink, Before It Really Stinks

Last week I talked about how as youth ministers we need to hand things off to our volunteer ministers in order for our ministry to grow.  Yesterday a similar conversation emerged with one of my coworkers.  We decided that passing on a responsibility to a volunteer minister can be one of the most challenging aspects of ministry.  And I’m not talking about setting up chairs or passing out paper, I’m talking about creating an agenda, writing a message, even designing curriculum.  To do that would mean that we would risk letting our programs “Stink”.  But sometimes we need to LET IT STINK a little bit.  Why?  Well, the first reason is so that your ministry can grow, but the second reason is because if you don’t let it stink a little, then it’s going to stink a lot more down the road.  Here are a few signs of really stinky ministry:

  1. Ministers Are Leaving.  They are leaving because they feel as if the tasks they are doing are meaningless, have no purpose or worse they have no direction.  When you give a minister ownership, they may fail, but they’ll take it seriously and when they succeed (and you praise them), you have them for life.
  2. You Are Exhausted.  If you feel totally wiped after a night of ministry one of the reasons for that is because you are doing too much.  That doesn’t necessarily mean you should cut things from your program, what you should look at is what you can pass off.  What’s wearing you down.
  3. You Aren’t Doing What’s Important.  I don’t know what are the most important tasks for you to perform as a youth minister but for me it’s writing, speaking, training ministers, training student leaders and communicating with parents.  If I’m not doing those things I believe our ministry will suffer; however, there is still a lot of other projects that lie around.  Now this isn’t about finding someone to sharpen pencils, but this is about presenting a systems problem to your team.  Give them ownership of a missing link or an obstacle, let them come up with the solutions and then guide them so that their ideas stay with the vision.
  4. Students and Parents Only Want To Talk To You.  This doesn’t sound too bad; but, if you are the only one who knows anything about the youth ministry then you are going to be constantly barraged with questions and the need for information.  Give your ministry leaders real ministry leader titles (i.e. Director of Student Small Groups) and then tell your parents and students about these ministry leaders, what they do and how they can serve them.  Pass onto your leaders not only responsibility but real titles to go with them.

So things won’t be to your exact standards, a game won’t go as well as you initially planned, the points in a message weren’t driven home as well as you could, your small group questions aren’t as thought provoking as yours, etc. we need to get over it.  If something flops, if someone makes a mistake, it’s easy to correct and teach, but if we don’t allow that to happen your ministry can fall apart.  The more control we display the more likely we are going to suffocate the potential growth of our ministry and when our ministry doesn’t grow it dies and when something is dead, it stinks.