So you’re Eldership board have finally let you spend some money on a youth worker – fab! Great news. I’m full on behind you. But let’s take a lean back for a second and look up at the giant 22nd Century looming before us… is a youth leader really what you need?
I’ve got to be careful here or I’ll render myself unemployable, but I’d like to argue that there are three roles other than a youth leader a Church could spend some money on and might even be more effective long term.
So first off, why not a youth leader. Well we’re flaky, generally restless, and don’t stick around all that long. Sometimes we add young people to the church, but usually in a polarizing way. We’re also a little naive and grumpy, and we’ll probably break a lot of windows and leave a mess in the office. There’s also great Charities that employ area youth workers and interns that you could plug in to (YFC, Urban Saints, SU, YWAM, YoungLife, TFG, Oasis etc).
So where else could you put your money? Well here’s three options. If you can – get all three; they’ll make a great team!
1. A School’s Worker
This could be part-time and even better, could be shared among several churches – ‘winner!’ says the treasurer.
Any church based youth ministry that isn’t fed from schools work in 10 years time will simply not exist. School is where the action is and more importantly it’s where the young people are! All after-school clubs (church youth groups definitely included) are falling in popularity, and when they’re not they tend to be inward focused rather than feeder groups.
An effective school’s worker will be able to connect with young people, parents, teachers, and the community in one swoop. A school’s worker needs to add quality content to the life and curriculum of the school and creatively engage with any opportunity they afford.
There’s nothing stopping a school’s worker running an after school club too y’know!
2. A Family’s Worker
This role takes seriously integration, mentoring, all-age worship, and community. All Churches need to thrive off these things!
An effective family’s worker will simply help community happen. They will oversee Children’s and youth activities, engage with parents, coordinate all-age services, and have the umph and perspective to grow these things together. They will help with parenting courses, church socials, trips away, and regular visiting. They are also the ideal people to set up peer-mentoring programs.
A Family’s worker could also have a youth cell group! Why not, eh?
3. A Social Worker
A church based social worker will help families and individuals engage properly and healthily with their circumstances. This can also be part-time.
Trained social workers are just what the church need today; they are people-centered, wise, discerning, personally motivated, and well educated in how the world works. They can offer family mediation, grief counseling, debt advice, benefits consultation, homework help, careers direction, home-bound visits and all sorts of other real-human-life-type help.
A great social worker can also train and release people to work more like the Body of Christ by helping people love and serve each other more effectively.
Hey, they could even do some one-to-ones with teenagers!