Did you ever wonder why Jesus chose TWELVE disciples? I mean, why not just one? After all: Long, long ago in a galaxy far away, a Jedi Master only had ONE padawan. What would it have been like if twelve padawan learners were following Obi Wan instead of just Anakin Skywalker? Hm. Might have been good since Anakin ended up turning into Darth Vadar. But, I’ve gotten completely lost in my (until now) secret love for science fiction. Back to the point . . .

I think Jesus chose twelve disciples for several reasons, but I think one of them was His love for community. Jesus could do everything on His own and there is absolutely no doubt that He could do things better than His disciples could, and yet He determined to do ministry with a group of men who were not perfect, but who were willing to follow. I suppose this is one reason why I am convinced that youth ministry is NOT a project to be accomplished by one talented guy with a good bag of tricks.

Regardless of how small your youth group is, working with teenagers requires that you build a team of adults who are willing to invest in teenagers. Why is that important? At least four reasons:

  1. You need the help. I know, you are Luke Skywalker. You can accomplish great feats on your own. But taking on all of the work of youth ministry . . . even with 3 or 4 students . . . on your own is a prescription for burn-out.
  2. Your ministry needs help. I don’t mean to discount your gifts. They are awesome. But no one is good at everything. I’m a decent Bible study leader, but I am an AWFUL party planner. Some folks are good at organization. I’m not. Some folks are good at sound, light, ambiance. I’m not. You and I need those other people to do the things we’re not good at. Sure, we always end up having to do some things we aren’t particularly good at, but when you spend much of your time in those areas, you frustrate yourself and everyone else.
  3. Your students need help. Research indicates that a student has the best opportunity to build a solid, life-long faith when he or she has heart connections with FIVE adults who are deeply committed to Christ. I hope two of those people are their parents. You can be number 3. But you are going to have to enlist some other leaders if you want students to find number 4 and 5.
  4. Your church and your parents need to know that their kids are safe and protected . . . and that means having several adults around. If you are alone with five or six kids and one gets hurt, taking care of the five or six things that need to happen simultaneously is nearly impossible. If you get hurt, they are next to impossible. And, of course, in the world we live in, accusations can ruin the ministry of a church. Those things are much easier to debunk when you have a solid group of adults with you.

Maybe you are a paid youth leader with a degree or two under your belt. Maybe you are a mom who is trying to make sure your son and his friends have a youth ministry experience at your church. Maybe you are a college student who is assigned to a church for the summer. Regardless, a big chunk of your job is developing a team of adults to work with you. It takes time and effort, but it is essential to successful youth ministry.

Category : leadership


Patrice April 18, 2012

Yes! As the youth director at my small church. This has proven true and vital to the life of our young (5 years old) youth ministry. In fact, I have a team of teachers, and I set the schedule and curriculum and we all rotate in teaching. It also helps to keep away burnout for any, one given leader.

Joel April 18, 2012

It´s great to wake up with some Paul Kelly and start the day off inspired and focused on the important things!

Lisa Hartmann April 18, 2012

Thank you for this submission. Your article spoke right to my heart and my situation.

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