Live Q & A: Developing Leadership Teams, Building Staff Relationships, and Longevity

Coaching with this Leadership Team in Michigan

Coaching with this Leadership Team in Michigan

Three Questions in this week’s podcast:

How do we improve our YTH Ministry leadership?

One of the keys to YTH Ministry is how to keep leaders healthy. You’ve heard me say many times, ‘healthy YTH Leaders create healthy YTH Ministry’. So how do we navigate our ministry and produce healthy YTH Leaders?

Over the years, I’ve tried to improve our leadership team with a few things.

First, we must teach our YTH Leaders context.

We cannot assume that all of the YTH Leaders are proficient in sociology or understand the youth scene. They may not all be excited about the campus or know the movies and the music that our students are listening to. And they may not be able to have ease of conversation with a teenager. So, it is our job to teach and to train them and help them become comfortable in their relationship with students and their world.

Second, we must educate them.

Take them through a book or video (preferably from our Sunday Night ythology Live episodes) and have a variety of discussions with them. There are great Ted Talks or Blogs that you could watch or listen to with the team that would be a great informational boost for your leaders. Here are a few:

Podcasts I would suggest include:

Malcolm Gladwell, Francis Chan, Jarrid Wilson, Sadie Robertson, Youth Ministry Answers, Download Youth Ministry, Zoe Church, and Phil Dooley


Third, we must meet on a regular basis.

In my travel to YTH Groups around the country, I'm finding that they are not meeting on a regular basis. This past weekend I was at the Northern Missouri Youth Summit with about 40 Churches from Kansas City to St Louis, and a young youth leader came up to talk about this issue of leadership team development. I asked when they met for their meetings and he said ‘once in a while, we haven’t had one for a few months.’ That must change. If we want consistent discipleship, training, unity, relationship, and shared ownership, we must have at least monthly, and preferably, bi-weekly meetings with our YTH Ministry team.

Fourth, creating a student leadership team can improve the overall energy and contextual strength of the leadership team.

When student leaders are around a YTH Ministry, they infuse it with life and understanding. If you want to improve your adult leader leadership meeting, bring the student leaders into the meeting once in a while and watch the reverse mentoring take place right before your eyes as the adult leaders learn from the student leaders.

Search this site for more information on leadership team meetings.


Let’s deal with the second question from the Q and A.

I am having a hard time with my Lead Pastor. What do I do?

Let me rephrase this question. Your Lead Pastor is having a hard time with you. What should he/she do? Okay I get it. Not every Pastor that you work for is perfect. They may not have been a YTH Pastor. Or maybe they have a little more on their mind than you do as a YTH Leader. I don’t mean to demean the question. I know that this can be tough. But, if you're sensing that there's no chemistry or you know things aren't right or maybe it's a cold relationship, it may not be all the Lead Pastor’s fault.

Here are a few things that will help.

-Set up an appointment and have a real conversation about the lack of chemistry. Let your leader know that you just want to know what you have to do to help the situation.

-Ask your leader what they would define as a win for the YTH Ministry. From the Lead Pastor perspective.

-And remember this, there is no perfect staff or Church. Every situation requires patience and perspective. The grass is not always greener on the other side of the hill. And if it is, you still have to get to the other side, and, when you get to the other side you still have to mow it.

The answer when you are having problems is not to leave. The answer is to solve problems and value the setting you are in. because every place has problems. If you can learn to solve problems you will be in a place for a long time.

One place may not have the right schools you want. Another place may not have the worship you like. The next place has less of an emphasis on discipleship, or evangelism, or staff relationships. Decide on your non-negotiables. And when you find them, solve all of the problems that will arise in that place.

Let’s look at the third and the final question on this episode.

How do I know when it is time to leave a position?

Among youth pastors surveyed, a Youth Specialties study found that 18% of youth pastors were in their role for 1 year, and that 13% were in their role for 1-3 years, and that after that tenure, the percentages tapered off to just 9% who have pastored in a youth group for 12 or more years. *U.S. youth pastors report, 2016.

This is not an easy answer. However, I love talking about this because this is the longevity question.

Now, I am 57 years old. And I have been in YTH Ministry for 35 years. There have been good times and bad times in those four decades of YTH Ministry. But I have learned a few lessons about longevity. There are a lot of hindrances to long-term YTH Ministry. Salary, juvenile behavior, personal family problems of the youth pastor, teen apathy, and parental struggles. But each of them can be solved.

A recent Barna study (2018) of youth pastors, shared that the number one problem of building a healthy YTH Ministry and youth pastor satisfaction is teens’ busy lives (74%).

From my perspective, and this is only anecdotal, the number one problem youth pastors leave a position is that they do not solve problems. It really relates to the first two questions in this blog. Okay, I'm not the voice of the Holy Spirit in your life, but, I will tell you this right now. I’ve seen this movie many times. And the conversations are the same. It is problems and not the Lord moving most youth pastors and leaders to the next place.

Here are 7 ways to increase your stay at the setting you are in right now:

  1. Keep yourself spiritual - spiritual health and disciplines is the key. Burn-out happens when you are not spiritually healthy. Burn-on happens when you are spiritually healthy.

  2. Keep the people spiritual - this will solve a lot of problems

  3. Build your marriage and make it a priority - and share your family with the ministry

  4. Stay out of debt - economy problems can be a killer

  5. Keep open communication with your Lead Pastor - you must be the initiator of conversation

  6. Delegate leadership to a team - balance is the best way to balance your time

  7. Do the last thing God tells you to do - if you do that you can face anything with His grace on your life and calling

There are never best answers to difficult questions. Sometimes it takes understanding. If you can change your perspective, you can often change your attitude. And if you change your attitude, you can change the situation. If you would like more help on any of these questions, simply search the website and you will see other blogs related to these questions.

Jeff Grenell