The Fantasy Youth Ministry Team

The last Sunday afternoon of every August I sit in my living room with 11 other guys. We’re intensely focused as we type away on our laptops while looking through stacks of papers covered in handwritten notes. A planning retreat? No. A curriculum development meeting? Nope. An anointed brainstorming session? No way. It’s my annual fantasy football draft.

It sure would be nice if we could pick our youth ministry teams like we pick our fantasy football teams: looking at statistics and match-ups and choosing based on need. Obviously, it doesn’t work that way but if there were such a thing as a “fantasy youth ministry team draft”… here are five categories I would consider:

Love the Gospel – I don’t care how hip or influential a person seems to be. If it isn’t obvious they love the story of redemption and are centering their lives on the goodness of Jesus, then I don’t want them on my team. I’m not talking about perfect people. I’m talking about people who are entirely aware of their imperfections and modeling a lifestyle of faith and repentance.

Love the Family – Youth ministry is not just about teenagers. Youth ministry is about partnering with and supporting the work of discipleship happening in the home. Youth workers that try to take the place of parents or try to make parents out to be the enemy would go undrafted by me. If parents are unsaved this may look different but it’s still a non-negotiable.

Love the Team – We’re better together. Sometimes talented individuals and natural leaders have a hard time believing that. I want people on my team who love that they’re a part of a team and are glad to have a role to play. I don’t need someone with a messiah complex or a lone ranger.

Love the Journey – We’re all in process and there’s never been a teenager who emerged from youth ministry a finished product. 15+ years after high school and I still have so much growing in grace to do. I would select youth workers who patiently trust in God’s progressive work of sanctification as opposed to trying to be the Holy Spirit in teenagers’ lives while forcing behavior change that is disconnected from heart transformation.

Love the Vision – This one starts with me as the leader. What’s the vision, why does it matter and how can you be involved? The vision should me memorable, engaging and regularly repeated. I would be using my draft picks on people who feel the tension of the problem that the vision exists to solve, buy into that vision and can share it with others in a compelling fashion.

We can’t draft our youth ministry team but we can intentionally recruit them and we must strategically develop them. Consider using these five categories as areas of development in your team and you just might be on your way to leading your very own fantasy youth ministry team.

Question: What would you add to this list? Share it here and let’s learn from one another.

Guest Post: David Hertweck serves the Assemblies of God in New York as the District Youth and Chi Alpha Director. Prior to that he served as a youth pastor for 11+ years at Trinity AG in Clay, NY. He’s married to Erin and has two daughters, Lilia and Caraline. He loves his girls, his extended family, good music, good food, his Weber grill, his Taylor guitar, Liverpool Football Club, the Yankees and the Gospel. You can follow him on Twitter at @DavidHertweck.

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  • Justin Adour

    You definitely nailed it. This is a great list of qualities in any leader, especially with youth.

    If I were to add anything, it would probably someone with a love for learning. I know that everyone learns and comprehends in different ways. However, when someone is teachable and willing to grow spiritually, emotionally, and practically it makes things easier. Every knows what it is like to have the person that seemingly refuses to make it a priority to grow and mature. As someone that has an insatiable desire to learn more and more about everything, it is refreshing to have people that do the same. I just need to be careful not to expect my level of learning from them. It is a challenge sometimes :)

    Great post!

    • David Hertweck

      Yes! Great one to add to the list Justin. Harry Truman said: “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” I tend to agree. I want to be surrounded by learners because 1) I can learn from them 2) They challenge me to keep learning and 3) they’re more interesting to be around than others. :)

  • John Ginnan

    Grat list!

    I noticed that stating them as “Love” challenges makes it workable as communication of the heart of ministry instead of focusing on the behavior of youth leaders as we lead them, i.e. “let’s LOVE the gospel” instead of let’s teach the gospel, model the gospel, etc.

    • David Hertweck

      Good thought John – I hadn’t thought through that word selection a ton but I love your take on it. Anything that brings it back to what’s happening in our hearts is a healthy starting point.

      • Brandon Scholes

        I love this thought John!

  • Brandon Scholes

    To jump on this bandwagon…I’ve recently seen some fruit from a leader I personally disciple. Taking a list like this and helping him imply it in his life has not only been heart changing for him but me as well.

    To be able to watch him grow at his pace because he’s completely inspired by his relationship with Christ is such a blessing! He loves to learn and like Dave says, “He loves to challenge me,” which is always needed. I completely love how the gospel continually shapes the heart, both young and new.

    Picking a team and being focused on “Loving the Gospel” is uniting factor that I’m looking forward to when it comes to loving on teenagers. This is a great list that I’m referring to as this leader and I begin to build our team this year!

    • David Hertweck

      Great takeaway Brandon. Imagine sitting down with your team and taking these 5 categories (and whatever you might add or subtract) and fleshing out together what these realities would look like specifically in the life of a youth worker.

      For example: Loves the Gospel
      a) Models a lifestyle of repentance
      b) Approaches student’s behavioral problems with the Gospel as opposed to moralism
      c) Can share their own grace awakening story with students

      You could come up with a pretty sweet ‘evaluation’ tool for youth workers. And they’d own it cause they helped create it!

      • Brandon Scholes

        That’s a stellar idea….I literally just wrote our Small Groups Vision. I used this list to help model that vision, with a few of my own quarks. I’ll have to update it with examples as such and like you said work it out with my new team. Thanks for the insight!

  • andy lawrenson

    Love the team is great! Team players make the team a fantastic team.

    • David Hertweck

      Couldn’t agree more Andy. Team players fight for the team, not for their individual agenda/bias. Gotta love that!

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