Once you have somebody in the position, be honest with yourself and them about their strengths and weaknesses. Rather than fault them for it, try to find ways to support them. Let's say, for example, they aren't the best with administrative tasks (a wild example, I know). Find a volunteer who can come in a few hours a week to assist with administrative tasks.  

Pass the Ketchup

This last one may seem like a no-brainer, but it can actually be the most difficult. While the first two sections dealt primarily with ministry matters, this last one gets more personal. Develop a friendship with your youth leader. For some, this comes easy because you may already have a lot of common ground to build upon (my three B's of instant friendship are burritos, babies, and batman). For others, the only shared passion might be ministry and building a friendship will be more of a challenge. 

I've noticed that many churches have adopted a structure that isn't always friendship-friendly. The lead pastor is seen as the boss whose primary task when it comes to other church employees is to manage and supervise. This model is fine and necessary in the business world, but church isn't business, it's ministry, and as such it should function differently. Your youth leader is more than just an employee; they're a member of your congregation (try and find a business with that model!). So while the tasks of managing and supervising may fall to you, so do the tasks of shepherding and encouraging. 

While it may seem forced at first, commit to getting lunch together once or twice a month. Simply having regular interactions outside of the church will change the dynamic of the relationship inside the church. And while conversations may gravitate towards ministry, ensure that you're having a conversation and not an performance evaluation. I guarantee that this simple act of sharing a meal will speak volumes to your youth leader. 

I hope this article helps you understand and connect with your youth leader. Of course, every situation is different, but all of these points are simple and easily adaptable to many different circumstances. If you have just hired or are about to hire a youth leader, I hope these pointers can help start you off on the right foot. If you've had a youth leader for a while, perhaps this can lead to a fresh start and a new season of ministry and friendship together. 

Keith Cotton blogs at Popcropolis. Find him on Facebook here!

Publication date: July 24, 2012