Thoughts On Why Youth Ministry Must Decentralize: Infographic

Here’s an info graphic that has been showing up and making the rounds on blogs and Facebook. Adam McClane created this very helpful graphic that gives us a picture of our task to reach and invest in students: Here are a few thoughts I have on it:

1) Paid youth workers are more effective when they build a team: If you are the paid guy or girl and the ministry is centered on you, I would maintain that you are limiting your effectiveness. A team is clearly nearly needed to reach so many students in our communities and churches. 

2) Paid youth workers should invest in volunteers JUST AS MUCH as they invest in students: Yes, this can be a controversial statement for some… Pastors, parents, and students, see you and I as the answer to students faith and struggles. However, the paid person can only invest and impact so many students. My premise is this:

If I can invest fully in 10 good leaders who in turn invest in 10 students, I have done better that just me investing in 10-20 students myself.

3) Volunteers are essential and their role should not be disregarded. So many volunteers I know, feel ineffective. Just last night I met with a great potential volunteer who shared that he had sat on the sidelines for a while, simply because he did not feel he could make a difference. This infographic clearly shows the need for an army of volunteers.

4) Volunteers should be given diligent training and investment: With so many students to reach and so many issues to face, student ministry is not easy. The paid person cannot possibly deal with every issue and eventuality and be effective. If the local church is able to invest in training and development of volunteers, students will be blessed and supported greater. By training and investment, I mean conferences, training days, books, podcasts. I am fortunate that my church takes leadership development seriously and we are able to take a team of volunteers to a yearly conference. The expense is high, but the investment is needed.

5) We need to depend on God in greater ways! The task ahead of us is massive. We need a massive God to help us tackle massive issues. If this infographic represented an Old Testament battle, the odds would truly be against us. However, we know the outcome of faithful men and women who pray…

What does this graphic tell you? What would you add to this list? What would you tweak or disagree with on my list? 

Phil <><

  • http://www.tomshriver.com Tom Shriver

    This is awesome. I’m really trying to amp up our volunteer budget this year – I think this infographic will help a lot in showing how important our volunteers are!

  • http://www.youthministryleader.com Doug Franklin

    Phil – I love the idea of training more adult volunteers, we must do this but what about training our students to reach and disciple their peers. The only real way to reach this student group is for students who love Jesus to do it. I know you will agree … but I just wanted to add this to all our thinking

  • Phil Bell

    Doug, you are spot on! I just talked with a group of youth workers yesterday saying that it has become increasingly difficult for youth workers to get into schools and get into the world of students these days. We cannot overlook a huge army of student leaders who can reach, connect, and grow their peers.

    Thanks Doug!

    Phil <

  • http://www.benjermcveigh.com Benjer McVeigh

    So true. I didn’t totally understand #2 until just a few years ago. Now, I feel like I almost spend MORE time on volunteers, because we have an extensive small group ministry. Hopefully I make a difference in a few kids’ lives, but I know that those small groups are where the real magic happens, so I need to make sure our leaders are cared for.

  • http://youthworktalk.com Phil Bell

    Benjer, you are spot on! Small groups are where the magic happens! I have discovered that the way I invest in my leaders will often be the way they invest in our students.

  • http://www.studentministry.org Tim Schmoyer

    Hey Phil, I’m curious why the emphasis here is on volunteers instead of on parents.

  • http://www.benjermcveigh.com Benjer McVeigh

    Re Tim’s comment: I first had that thought too. But the infographic takes into account ALL teenagers, not just those in the church or whose parents would be interested in discipling their kids. Equipping parents to disciple their kids is definitely the ideal situation–when parents are willing to do that. But when that’s not the case, the next-best thing is equipping people (adults and teenagers) in our church to introduce teenagers to Jesus.

    As the infographic points out, if we have a purely “come and see” youth ministry that is focused on the youth pastor, there will be lots of teenagers that we leave out. This is especially true in a culture like the one I live in, where very, very few people have ever attended a church where the Jesus of the Bible (and grace) is preached.

  • http://www.studentministry.org Tim Schmoyer

    @Benjer: Yeah, I understand that dynamic. I’m feeling like instead of strategizing based on a less than ideal scenario (the teens who’s parents aren’t interested in discipling their kids or even themselves), why don’t we strategize around the best-case scenario (teens who’s parents ARE interested in that) and make accommodations for the rest? It feels to me like sometimes we’re planning for the lowest common denominator, ya know? I’m not saying that’s what Phil is implying here at all nor that volunteers aren’t important — just wondering why parents aren’t a bigger part of the solution here.

  • http://www.benjermcveigh.com Benjer McVeigh

    Tim: very true. If we only plan for the lowest-common denominator (parents aren’t interested in discipling their kids–and may never be), then we do a disservice to the families where that is possible, because parents discipling their kids is far more biblical than outsourcing parental responsibilities to a youth pastor.

    This may be a bit off-topic for this post, but as a youth pastor, one big part of my role is to equip (Ephesians 4:11-13). This includes encouraging and equipping parents to disciple their kids. It also means helping leaders, teenagers, and parents to share Jesus with teenagers who don’t know Jesus, and who may never hear about the Jesus of the Bible from their family. And that’s really the beauty of the infographic: that if we want to see as many teenagers as possible come to know Jesus, a model that has the youth pastor at the center is just silly. We have to equip people who will build relationships with teenagers and share Jesus with them. The infographic doesn’t say how, but I believe this doesn’t just include volunteers, but teenagers and parents within the Church as well.

  • http://youthworktalk.com Phil Bell

    Wow. I don’t check comments for a few hours and Benjer and Tim hijack it! Great discussion guys. Tim, you raise a good point and I know we have talked in the past about the importance of investing in parents who invest in their kids. I should have stated that this is a given in my world. However, we know that not all youth workers and youth ministries are looking through the lens of seeing parents as the primary discipleship in a students life.

    I agree with what Benjer said, once we have sought equip and empower parents, we then need to invest in volunteers as we invest in students.

    Thanks for pointing this out. Good stuff gents!

    Phil <><