Forming a team for your group may be a hard and tiring process. However, the more effort you put into building up an effective team, the more it will ensure the future effortlessness of your youth ministry:
Search for people you want your young people to model
Identify people of integrity, whose faith in Christ is integrated throughout their whole life. The Apostle Paul emphasises character every time he describes Christian leadership. Look for people who love what is good, are upright, holy, disciplined (Titus 1:8). One reason character is so important is that every leader is a powerful model. Your youth will do what they see in their leaders. As we are called to imitate Christ we have to have leaders that we can imitate Christ in them too. Recruit leaders who model an integrated, grace-filled, and consistent life of faith. Youth ministry skills can be taught. Find people you want your youth to model.
Look for people with initiative and availability
Identify members who don’t need to be asked to love others. These are the people who move out of their friendship groups after church to meet new people and other church members. They see a need and do it without fuss. They seek out people to pray for. Initiative is a beautiful skill that we often fail to look for. It takes pressure off the youth minister having to see everything. It produces a team who are constantly looking for different ways to serve others. It is a skill we want youth to see and learn as they learn to serve Christ in all spaces of their life. Not only do you want to form a team with initiators but as well people that are committed and available. It is hard to do anything if the people you are relying on don’t show up. So find those that are willing to show up day in and day out.
Look for team players
Youth ministry is not a solo activity. Your youth team, whether it is two people or 20, will be more effective working together than as individuals. The culture and model your team display will directly shape your youth. In looking for new leaders, we need to focus on building a team more than doing tasks. Identify leaders who will complement the team with different personalities, experience and ideas. Avoid leaders who refuse to work with others. Identify leaders who will help other leaders lead. Avoid leaders who are in it for themselves. Build a team of different ages, experience, culture and maturity that understand that together they have the joyful privilege to invest in the next generation.
Look at your youth
Your current youth are your future leaders. Yes, that is scary! They are immature, frustrating, works-in-progress—just like you. However, they know what a blessing your group is. They understand the culture and the values. They are invested. So don’t wait for them to leave youth group before you plant the seed of leadership. Build a leadership culture within your group. Take a risk and give some of your senior youth responsibility alongside younger youth. Offer opportunities for youth to serve each week. Train them in Biblical leadership, equip them to work on their character, open their eyes to service, and encourage them to take risks to help others. Pray for them and with them to be the future leaders of God’s Church.
Take a risk
Most people are not ready to become leaders. They’re too young, too old, too busy, lack skills, confidence or a myriad of other things. We often don’t start a conversation about youth ministry with people who aren’t yet ready to lead. Take some time to pray for the members of your group. Then choose five people with godly character, who are not ready to lead, but are ready to have a conversation. Then have a clear conversation with them. Share the vision for the ministry and your team. Invite them to pray for the ministry and think about becoming partners. Ponder what support and training they may need. Ponder the parents of your youth. Could you take a risk and have a conversation about whether they may like to be a bigger part in youth ministry? Complete leaders are very rare. Potential leaders may be everywhere in your church.
Take care of them
Once your leadership team is formed it is important to organise both regular team formation as well as one on one conversations revolving around mentoring them to be better leaders then they started. Ensure that you have a leadership pathway for them. To do this, you need to plot out a yearly schedule of what they will be formed in as well as why it is needed. Focus on forming your leadership team to be as balanced as possible. This means providing them with a mixture of spiritual, intellectual, pastoral and human formation. Do not forget to have your own one on one conversations with your leaders on a regular basis. This will help you understand how your team is going on a ground level as much as the top level.