One of the privileges of ministering amongst young people is helping them understand what the local church is and how God intends it to function, for his glory, in his world. The apostle Paul compares the local church to the human body: each part of the body is essential and yet has a different role and function. So to with the local church: each person is significant and plays a role that contributes to the effective functioning of the church. So, as we help young people understand the church, we must also long for them to become meaningful members of the church – here and now!
The question is, then, how do we aid and assist the integration of young people into our local churches? How do we prevent the youth ministry from becoming a homogenous unit, a “church within a church” that exists in isolation from the rest of the congregation?
Effective communication between the youth pastor, senior pastor and wider ministry team is essential in order to ensure the successful inclusion of young people into the congregation. The youth pastor is only one cog in this ministry wheel and – let’s be honest – often a cog that feels isolated and even ignored! Nevertheless, a mature and godly youth pastor will seek to communicate well and wisely with the senior pastor and wider ministry team for the good of the whole church family.
Practically, how can a youth pastor foster a helpful pattern of communication with the senior pastor and ministry team?
1. Document clearly the youth ministry vision and strategy and make this document physically available to the senior pastor and ministry team. Be willing to engage in open and honest discussion about your youth ministry praxis with your ministry colleagues. Be willing to receive advice and instruction humbly from those more senior to you (1 Peter 5:5).
2. Make it a priority to attend all ministry team meetings that you’re invited to. Consider carefully the items on the agenda (whether a written or verbal agenda) and how they affect or interact with the youth ministry. If you currently don’t regularly attend ministry staff meetings, humbly and graciously ask the senior pastor if it might be possible for you to be present.
3. Arrange regular meetings with the senior pastor to keep him up to date with what’s happening in the youth ministry programme.
- Be realistic regarding your expectations for these meetings, particularly about the regularity and length. An hour long weekly meeting may be possible for some senior pastors, but for others it might only be feasible for them to meet with you every three weeks.
- Plan carefully what you’d like to communicate during the meetings; try not to overwhelm the pastor with the minute-by-minute minutiae of the youth ministry. Share with him the encouragements the difficulties and any areas you’d appreciate his advice.
- Prepare a brief agenda for the meeting to aid discussion and prevent rambling! It will also act as an memory aide for the senior pastor to take away and share with others.
4. Prepare a weekly (brief) bulletin to email to the pastor and wider ministry team. Include details of what you’re studying in the various groups throughout the week, as well as prayer requests. Be consistent with this practice, do it on the same day and in the same format each week.
5. Invite the pastor and other ministry team members to attend some of your leaders’ meetings. This will allow them to meet the volunteer teams, to understand the nature of the ministry more fully, and to further encourage open and honest communication between the ministry team.
6. Consider carefully how the youth ministry might interact with other areas of ministry in the local church. For example, could the young people be involved in the music ministry? Seek to communicate your desire to integrate the young people into different areas of ministry directly to those in charge of that particular ministry (not via some round about convoluted route!). Consider carefully how this integration would glorify God amongst his people and share your thoughts in a gentle and wise way.
7. A good relationship with the senior pastor will really facilitate effective communication, so work hard at building and maintaining a healthy relationship. Pray often for your ministry colleagues, invite them to your home, and demonstrate sacrificial love, kindness and humility. Strive to be servant hearted in your interactions with all the ministry team.
Undoubtedly good communication will strengthen and bless the local church. So it’s no winder that Satan rejoices when there is poor or strained communication amongst God’s people. We must seek to work for unity and cohesion amongst the church family and particularly the ministry team, even if that means initiating new practises, committing to more regular communication with other areas of ministry and other pastors, or being more diligent in our communication methodology.