I believe youth pastors have two primary constituents in their ministries: the students they shepherd and the volunteers with whom they work. I would love to include two other groups with which the youth pastor regularly interacts (the parents and the other pastors), but these blogs would end up being far too lengthy.
I think youth pastors too often take for granted their volunteers and do not see the volunteers, whether they’re college students or senior citizens, as constituents of the youth ministry.
Volunteers participate in youth groups for much more than babysitting students and getting free coffee. While some volunteers may serve out of a sense of obligation or something similar, I believe strongly that it is the job of the youth pastor to not only minister to his students but also his volunteers.
The first discipline of a multiplier:
Attract and Optimize Talent
In a bit of a summary of this discipline, Wiseman writes, “The Diminisher is an Empire Builder. The Multiplier is a Talent Magnet” (p. 21)
How, then, does this work in the ministry of a youth pastor? I think it would be best to look at how this affects each facet of the youth pastor’s ministry individually.
The Youth Pastor and the Students
How does a youth pastor attract and optimize talent in relation to the shepherding of his students? First, it must be noted that, while it might be easily done, your mind should not jump immediately to evangelism as “attracting talent.” In evangelism, that isn’t exactly the point
So what does this mean then? How does a youth pastor attract and optimize the talent of his students? I think a youth pastor can do this in a number of ways:
Leadership: A youth pastor ought to be keenly aware of the gifts his students posses and how those gifts might be used for the glory of God through the group as a whole and the spiritual maturity of the group moving forward. It is right and good to attempt to instill the value of leadership into a student who doesn’t even remotely look like a leader, even more so a youth pastor must be on the lookout for students whom God has gifted with the ability to lead.
When I was in high school, I began to realize I had the ability to influence and lead people. If it weren’t for God giving me the wise leadership of a number of men in my youth group, namely my youth pastor, I would have either used my God-given ability to lead maliciously, or I would have squandered it altogether.
Youth pastors, find the leadership qualities in your students and do everything in your power to direct those energies and talents into youth group functions (small groups, mentorship programs, etc.).
Musical Abilities: I was in a youth ministry class in college and the youth pastor who taught the class proudly told us about how he assigned a young lady in his youth group the role of lead singer in their worship band after the girl repeatedly told him she couldn’t sing and had no desire to do so—he told her that God could do anything through her so she ought to trust him.
I found this to be quite confusing. I thought, “Why not encourage a different student in your group who likes to sing and would jump at the opportunity for more experience?” God has uniquely gifted some, at least one or two, in your group with the ability to play a musical instrument or make beautiful music with their voice alone. Find these talents and these passions and optimize them for the glory of God and the service of your youth group!
Service: God has graciously blessed many with the desire and ability to serve others in whatever capacity is needed, no matter how dumb, dirty, or dangerous it may be. I admire these people, because I certainly am not one of them. I am ashamed to admit that I am not always willing to serve others in whatever ways they need.
I hate moving from one place to another. I have had many opportunities in the past to help friends move and I haven’t taken them because I’m a selfish sinner who often cares more about doing what I want than serving others.
Youth pastor, there are a number of students in your youth group who LOVE serving and getting their hands dirty. Don’t ignore this gift—find it, develop it, and share it for the benefit of those in your church and your community.
These three gifts that I listed are only a few of the many that your students likely possess.
Youth pastor, to must attract these people and these talents and optimize them so that God may be glorified in them. Attract these students and their talents to the gospel and to the service of the kingdom of God, not to yourself and your agenda.
The Youth Pastor and the Volunteers
This one is pretty straightforward. A multiplying youth pastor has to have volunteers because he cannot be everywhere at once. In order for a pastor to multiply disciples among the students God has given him to shepherd, the youth pastor needs help. It is imperative, youth pastor, that you find the right help. Finding help is good, and you may be so desperate that you’ll “take anyone you can get.”
Some folks just aren’t cut out for youth ministry, in a volunteer capacity or otherwise. This isn’t a problem—different people are gifted in different ways. But youth pastor, any leaders won’t do. You need the right leaders for your youth group. Attract gifted volunteers to serve your students and learn how to make your gifted volunteers flourish in the ministry God has given you to lead.
God has given you these students at this time for a reason. You will be held accountable for how you have shepherded these students when you face your God in heaven. Don’t make yourself have to answer the question: “Why did you let a wolf help you lead my children?”
Youth pastors, find the talents in your students, facilitate their improvement, and use them for the glory of God and the betterment of your flock.
Hunt the eligible, RIGHT volunteer leaders in your church and co-lead your students with other people who want to multiply the gifts of your students and the number of your students so that God may be glorified and the gospel may be proclaimed.
Take a moment and pray for the Lord to reveal to you how your students are gifted and how you can enrich their giftedness for his glory. This is difficult, you cannot do it on your own. Ask for the Lord’s help.
Tomorrow, come on back and we’ll go over the second discipline of a multiplying youth pastor.