Blog | Managing Younger and Older Leaders in Youth Ministry
Managing Younger and Older Leaders in Youth Ministry
It’s important to have a mix of ages of leaders involved in leading your youth ministry. Leaders of different ages contribute in different ways to youth ministry, and it’s often the case that a diverse set in the age of your leaders will lead to a healthier ministry overall.
If you’re trying to figure out how to manage your current volunteer leaders in youth ministry when you have a mix of older and younger leaders, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Assign Appropriate Leadership Roles
Think about a 20-year-old graduate student hanging out with students playing tackle football or throwing a student into the water off a dock on a retreat… and then replace that image with a 50-year-old leader… We’re not saying older leaders can’t be involved in hanging out with students and playing games, but there’s definitely a difference from an interaction standpoint regarding what’s appropriate or comfortable for students.
While you can mostly utilize and spread all leaders wherever need-be, it’s important to bear in mind how your students likely think of each of your leaders. Are they a fun hang, high-energetic leader that students like hanging out with? Are they a wise caring leader that students want to confide in and seek help from? Utilize different “types” of leaders for different roles, and bear in mind how the age of your leaders may play into that.
For example, maybe you use some of your older, wiser volunteer leaders as small group leaders, while you assign more youth group retreat driving, game organizing, or high energy-dependent tasks to younger volunteer leaders. Just one small example of how to keep age in mind as you delegate tasks!
Keep Leaders Connected
You can’t expect leaders to pour into students if they themselves are not being poured into, and you especially can’t expect a ministry to function seamlessly if your leaders aren’t connected to each other.
In many youth groups where both younger and older leaders are involved, it’s common for the two to hang out with their own “clan” and ignore each other as groups. We get it! It’s easier to associate with people in your same place of life. But it is so important to ensure all leaders are in close relations with each other to have a healthy ministry and leadership team.
Make sure you schedule leader meetings regularly. Don’t talk business all the time – schedule a bowling night, a bon fire, or a grill-out. Work on getting your leaders involved and invested in each others’ lives.
Hold Everyone to the Same Standard
While it’s super important to have a mix of old and young leaders in youth ministry, it can get tricky to manage them both if they have different behavior patterns. One of the most common complaints among older leaders is that younger leaders will often be buried in their phones and distracted from being present at youth events. It happens to all of us, and I can imagine even you’ve been guilty of it at times!
Another complaint older leaders often have of younger leaders is a lack of commitment – they’ll say they’re taking on a responsibility and back out of it last minute. We all understand that sometimes life gets in the way and we need to prioritize emergencies above volunteering for youth events. However, if it’s a recurring pattern, it’s a problem.
The solution to all of this? It’s very important to make sure all leaders feel they are working together with the same expectations, working towards the same goals. Make it clear what you’re expecting of leaders and have an honest and open conversation with each of your leaders regarding their involvement, workload, and what they’re willing/want to handle.
Tolerating inconsistent, uncommitted, or disengaged leaders simply because they’re of a different age bracket isn’t healthy – it creates a “why them?” mentality among other youth ministry leaders. Make sure everyone knows they’re on the same team and are all held to the same expectations with how they conduct themselves as leaders.
About the Author
Chris Fleming is a professional musician from Minneapolis, MN who has played with artists such as TAYA, Big Daddy Weave, and Jason Gray. He is actively involved with the worship music scene and has contributed as a drummer, music director, song writer, and producer for various worship artists and churches locally and nationally. Chris is the Motion Designer at Motion Worship, helping to create motion background collections and countdowns for our subscribers.