In late January an e-survey was sent out to all of PYM’s data base. The survey asked participants to rate how well they feel supported in their current ministry from 1-10 and then asked them to suggest up to five ways a minister could better support them in their current context.
50+ responded with over 200 suggestions
Participants included ministers who are responsible for the youth portfolio in their parish, paid youth workers and volunteer youth leaders.
How well is your minister supporting you currently?
0 = Poorly 10 = Very well
Average response: 6.1/10 Range or responses: 1-10
Suggestions to improve their current setting:
Know your youth worker!
It is clear from the variety of suggestions that not all youth workers need the same things to feel supported. For example some wanted more freedom, others wanted more support. The best thing that a minister can do is to keep asking the question “ How can I best support you in the work that you are doing?” and not presume that the answer will be the same for subsequent youth workers.
Perception is reality
Technically you may be the most supportive minister of youth ministry in the entire Kingdom of God, however if you are not doing the specific things that your staff need to feel supported then it could be like buying your son a BMW when all he ever wanted was to play soccer with you.
The ABCD of Supporting a youth worker in your parish
Advocate for your youth workers so that their ministry is understood and valued by the wider church. As minister you are often the voice that elders will listen to. Youth leaders have expressed their dependency on you to voice their needs and concerns to those that govern the church.
Three simple things you can do to Advocate for your youth workers:
- Regularly invite the youth worker to present a short verbal report to session
- Regularly endorse the youth workers efforts to session and the congregation
- If conflict or issues arise regarding the youth ministry remind the leadership and congregation that youth ministry is a core component to the churches calling and mission and is worth more than the challenges it presents
Be Thankful. Keep exploring the best ways to thank and celebrate the youth ministry team. Generally speaking people like to be thanked once every three or four months.
Three ways to help a youth leader feel thanked:
- Ask your youth leader to take the Love Languages test http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/ to help identify the best ways to help them feel valued and thanked
- At least once a year get the whole youth ministry team in front of the church and publically thank them
- Ask a parent to write a brief letter or call your youth worker to thank them specifically for something they have done well
A counsellor’s tip on saying thank you:
Be specific about what you are thankful for and express how you felt…
E.g. “When I saw you teaching so clearly on forgiveness to those intermediate kids I felt so encouraged. I especially liked the way you gave them many practical examples of circumstances when they may need to exercise forgiveness in their lives and linked it back to Christ’s forgiveness of us. Seeing you teach made like that me feel very proud of our youth ministry.
Connect the youth ministry into the wider church community. Research is showing that a troubling divide is growing between adults and the teenage world. We need to work intentionally in the church to bridge this gap.
Three ways to Connect youth ministry into the wider church:
- Encourage times when people of different ages share their stories in your meetings
- Create some activities where several generations can work or eat together (or both!) E.g. community service project, or special celebration meal
- Encourage mentoring or praying relationships between teens and older members of the congregation
Disciple your youth workers. Youth workers expressed the desire that ministers would help them to develop their spiritual and personal formation.
Three simple ways to Disciple your youth worker:
- Ask your youth worker to join you in some of your personal devotional times
- Offer to provide some theological frameworks in topics or issues the youth are facing.
- Pay for the youth worker to go to two or three sessions with a spiritual director per year.
If you would like to chat about any of these findings or ideas please contact us.