SMS: The Pied Piper (Part Two)

Student Ministry Stuff (SMS) is a new feature I started last week.  If you missed it, you’ll want to click here and start with that post since this subject is a two-parter.

As I stated near the end of that post, I spoke directly to the leadership of the church that has a Pied Piper Youth Pastor.  I warned them that it most-likely is that they have  a Pied Piper Youth Pastor because of the flaw in their church youth ministry system, and is probably not (just) the personality of the youth pastor.

On the flip-side, today I will speak directly to the Youth Pastor who may be a or may have Pied Piper tendencies.

Let me reiterate that you may be in this position because the church you are in expects a Pied Piper Youth Pastor–a person who can and should do it all; after all, you are the one who is paid to be in that position.

This isn’t the beginning of the “you may be a pied piper if” type of a joke, because the punch lines may hit too close to the heart.  But you should examine your ministry, your style, the text messages and the amount of time you spend on the job and determine if you are or are not a pied piper youth pastor.

Ask yourself:

  • When Joe/Joanne gets asked to the prom, am I the first adult authority they call/text to tell?
  • Do you find yourself justifying Pat or Patty, the 18 year-old senior, as an “adult” for that camp, retreat or mission?
  • Even though you may have someone else at your church who is better at teaching, leading music, more funny upfront or a more gifted small group leader, have you intentionally ignored asking them to be part of your youth team because they may garner more attention?
  • Are you consistently wondering if the elders, pastor or others notice how much you work?  Do you find yourself saying “I haven’t taken a day off in __ days”?

I can write these examples and many others as potential Pastor Pied Piper tendencies because at some point in my Youth Ministry career I found myself thinking/doing these things.

  • I eventually became thrilled when Joanne called Sarah, her small group leader after being asked to the dance.  Why would I want a teen gal to be calling me to talk about that anyway?
  • Pat and Patty may be mature at 18, but Phil and Phyllis, though over 65 proved to be very wise and still immature enough to hang with the x-box, adrenaline-laden kid who just needed to be loved at camp.  All I needed to do was ask.
  • And the funnier guy, more talented teacher and better administrator were actually people that would help the ministry grow, even though the attention would fall away from me, the happier parent, more proud pastor and friendlier board actually led to a better experience for me at those respective churches.
  • I remember countless times I told people how many hours I had worked that week or how many days it had been since my last day off… I came to learn (way too late) that I was the only one celebrating those facts.

The likelihood is that you agree with the principles I have named above.  The problem is that the potential Pied Piper Pastor doesn’t know where to start in forming, training and maintaining a team so that he/she may get rid of not just the title, but improve the ministry.  So, let me conclude by simply offering a few thoughts.

  1. Don’t say “no” for them. If you have identified a potential team member for your youth staff, regardless of adult age, talk to them and make the ask.  Let them say no (or quite possibly “yes”).  When asking, give them the reasons why you think he/she would be a great member for your team and the specific roles you would like for them to play (which means you should have a philosophy of ministry, staff roles, etc. thought out well in advance).  But, remember, the answer is “no”, if you don’t ask.
  2. Allow them to Shepherd, don’t recruit chaperones. The most common reason for a leader leaving a youth staff is that they don’t feel they are being used effectively in the ministry.  You (Youth Pastor) should do what you do best, and surround yourself with others who are best at what they do best.  So, if you are not an admin person, recruit a staff person who is great at admin.  Adult leaders, more often that not, want to know their role, please, for their sake, give them a role other than “just be there to make sure things don’t get out of hand.”  If you do, you’ll soon have them out of your hands.
  3. See Youth Ministry as three (equal) prongs.  With each needing your (equal) attention. This will most likely be a separate post later, but I believe a effective youth ministry will give equal attention to: Students (duh), staff (as described with 1 and 2) and the third… Parents.  Ugh, the “P” word.  Yep, parents.  Giving attention to this HUGE resource will go miles in ridding the Pied-Piper name, but you’ll find great volunteers in this area as well.  Change your “Parent Meetings” to “parent gatherings.”  Make them fun and informative.  Come to the gatherings with questions rather than answers; while at the same time giving them valuable information (calendar, philosophy, etc.).  When parents and staff feel shepherded it will be natural for people to see the ministry as a team effort and not a Pied Piper place.

So, potential PPP (Pied Piper Pastor), are you a team oriented pastor?  Are you making the ask, looking to shepherd and allow others to use their gifts?  Are you pouring into parents at the same time?  If you would like some specific ways to engage, don’t hesitate to ask me (brian[at]youthmark[dot]com).

Once again, I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of this subject, but don’t want these posts to be too long.  Hopefully it has sparked some thinking.




4 thoughts on “SMS: The Pied Piper (Part Two)

  1. Thanks Brian, those are great discussion starters. I’ll use them when I chat with other youth pastors. I recognized lots of PPP tendencies, some from the past. Your suggestions were helpful and pointed in a great direction and not just a frustrated rant. Well Done.

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