From Chaperones to Shepherds (Part One)

I’ve spent the majority of my life in the Seattle area. Seattle: Home of Boeing, Nordstroms, Starbucks and the Mariners! Yep, the Mariners.

Though some may say, “you have a major league baseball team?” My beloved Mariners have had a few good, no, great seasons. Unfortunately we’ve had a larger number of horrible seasons. When the going gets tough it seems all home-town fans would like to take on the role of Manager! “Trade him” “bench him” “Fire the pitching coach!” We all know EXACTLY what we’d do.

Sometimes the manager isn’t making the right decisions. But many times the manager simply doesn’t have all the right pieces in place.

As a Youth Pastor and as someone associated with scores of current Youth Pastors, the same is often true– sometimes the Youth Pastor isn’t making the right decisions, but more often he simply doesn’t have all the right pieces in place. Leadership recruitment and development is a MAJOR factor toward longtime wins in Student Ministries.

I’ll develop a couple posts for this little series, From Chaperones to Shepherds. The first post is subtitled, Recruit to ministry, not to the mundane.

If you’re looking for chaperones (adults who are truly in place to “patrol”) then that is great. There are certainly instances and events where this is necessary, however, I believe most Youth Pastors are looking for adults who will play the role of mentor in the lives of students. If this is the case look for natural recruitment entry points where you can call an adult into a true ministry setting rather than a mundane atmosphere.

Buzz and Lisa were a couple of my recruits. Though their own kids had pretty much graduated on they seemed to have a little pep in their step when it came to interaction with teens. I could have asked them to come “check out” the normal weekly program but this likely would have been a waste of time. I wanted and needed them to play a ministry role. I asked if they would be interested in serving as our “head cooks” during our mobile camp. Buzz and Lisa would be bombarded with teens (those rotating through for prep and clean-up) and blessed by fellowship with others already on our team. Slowly and surely they moved out of the kitchen and into a family time (what we called our small groups on missions and retreats). By mid-week and already knee-deep in relationships, I approached these newbies with the opportunity to pray about becoming regular leaders on our team!

I believe these “big events” are the ideal times to recruit future leaders. Sure, week-in and week-out ministries provide the opportunity for people to see the program, but program, in this case, is the mundane. Inviting those with potential talent, skills and gifts into service is giving them the opportunity to be in ministry where relationships will be the key factor!

Consider your next camp, retreat, mission or large-scale event an opportunity to bring in some fresh perspectives and people. Give the potential youth leader a role that will lead to relationships (cooks, boat driver, worship leader, craft person, etc.) and invite them to something greater than just “checking out” the mundane!

You’re the manager and you’ve been given the chance to call someone up to the big-leagues of Student Ministries!

What are some other roles that give potential leaders high exposure to the ministry? I’d love your comments/thoughts!

Stay tuned!



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