jh pastors summit notes, part 5

this year at our junior high pastors summit, we invited psychiatrist and adolescent brain specialist, todd clements, to join us. this is part 5 of a 6-part series of the notes from that time. this particular section is notes from our discussion on implications for young (under 25 years old) volunteers in our ministries, from what we learned about brain development. the notes are a bit cryptic at times, i admit. i’ve cleaned them up a bit from what was useful for those who attended, but it would take too long to fill in all the gaps — so i’m posting them somewhat as is, in hopes that they’ll still be stimulating to some.


Questions this raises:
– Driving vans and students
– How do we coach/mentor young paid staff
– 20 year old/40 year old co-leadership
– Are we ready for the young staff person to make mistakes? What are our expectations?
– High school students helping in middle school ministry?
– Is there additional training that we should be doing/offering for these students?
– Parent perceptions that the best youth workers are the young ones
– How to coach young leaders through to the long haul – getting them past the first five years

Jason R: Like the idea of co-leadership. Young leaders do a good job, but having someone with a longer life experience is really a great thing

Marko: I’m doing it – 19 year old co-leader. Pros: one of us is always there; different kids connect with different kinds of leaders; play different roles in the lives of the students (older brother; father); he brings energy, excitement. I bring wisdom and experience (hopefully!); In the midst of all of the other stuff, I provide the young leader a learning time in an experience, not a lecture. He would have quit by now if we had not been doing it together. I am his youth pastor as well.

Eric: sometimes the 19 year old is spiritually more in tune with the kids and the older one plays more of the parent. This is where some tension can come into play.

Jim C: Some negatives come into play when the expectations are not clear. Sometimes the time and energy a young leader can pour into a kid can create in them dissatisfaction with the older leader because the older leader is not doing what the younger leader is doing.

Nate S: Over promising can be a big issue for the young leader – they promise things they may not follow through on.

Corrie: This can be a problem with all leaders

Scott R: We don’t have enough leaders, so this is a great concept, but we do this until the 19 year old is ready, and then they are placed in their own group.

Kurt J: This is a value decision – do we value the two leaders more than every kid being in a group. We don’t have all students in a group but we have two leaders in a group. However, maybe at Willow when the groups are central on campus, it can be done with one leader in a group. When you’re offsite, the pair is more critical.

Are two 19 year old co-leaders half the trouble? Or double the trouble?

It depends on the kids – temperaments – maturity – personality

Jason R: How do we measure or gauge (every word in quotes) the young leader’s success without being “big brother”? How do we get to the point where the younger leader feels like they have responsibility and leadership of their own?

April: It’s a big responsibility for the older leader as well.

Eric V: If we place the responsibility on the groups to figure the relationship out between them, it seems to work out.

– Jeff: We have 21 as a set age, but it also needs to be based on the individual
– Jason: We have such a long list of requirements that some don’t want to mess with it.
– Jim: For every small group we have a “chief” mom or dad. This person would be the admin for the small group and would set up the drivers etc… for that group. When new kids would show up, this parent would contact this new kid and his/her parents
– Jason: had a situation where an accident happened (no one was hurt)
– April: “safety first” woo-hoo – this kind of reality will change the way we do ministry. How do we do this?
– Eric: This is the reality of the world we live in today?
– Nate R: We must be more creative. It can limit what we can do.
– Eric: What are the limitations of a 21 year old leader that we need to focus on?
– Marko: According to the ages we heard at the beginning of Todd’s talk, they have already achieved moral and intellectual maturity. It is simply wisdom maturity they are not yet fully developed in. What are the wisdom issues?

High School Students in MS ministry:
– Nate S: in our ministry, they have to be at least a junior. Hook up juniors with 8th graders who will end up in the same high school. This can help with transitions.
– Christian: Almost all the small group stuff at Nate’s church is done at the same time and at the church. This creates a more controlled environment.
What are the positives of having HS students involved:
– Mark J: SLUG – student leaders under guidance: pushing experiences of leadership and service.
– Alan R: How does this work when you are trying to train the HS students in their ministry, but then you’re pulling them out to do MS ministry.
– Marko: It ends up being the sharpest, most busy kids who want to be involved, but they are still flakey and short term. The rewards did not seem to outweigh the risks.
– Eric: We had the opposite – the HS students were the most committed because someone took them seriously.

Training and specific experiences for young volunteers/separate roles and job descriptions: Do we want to treat them separately?
– Kurt J: We keep our young leaders for extra time and talk to these HS seniors and young college students about how ministry in MS is different that their current or recent HS experience.
– Marko: Is there a place for a different set of expectations for those who are under 23? Or more training?
– Scott: We need to tailor this to the person, not the age.
– Kurt: If they were on their own, I’d feel more pressure, but because of the co-leader approach, I don’t feel the same need for more training.
– Jim: We have separate descriptions. Type I and Type II – Type I (under 30); we assume these have more time and can go to more activities. The older leaders (type II) have less time, so they only need to come twice a month where Type I need to come four times a month. We have Type II leaders sit with Type I leaders and talk about calendaring. My idea is the main reason people don’t hang out with students is calendar and time management. The different descriptions are not just a reduction in responsibility, but are also more focused. Type II leaders will be placed with kids they will more naturally run into. Type I leaders can get to more activities in more locations.
– Christian: We have a three-tiered system based on how long they’ve been involved with our ministry. In order to do relational stuff, you must be involved in the programs. In year one, the relational stuff has to be done onsite. The second year, they must check in with the paid staff, the third year people can do it on their own. It’s a gradual progression of gaining more freedoms. In reality, we also have a fourth tier for those who live in the hood. The first three are for those coming in from the burbs wanting to help.

2 thoughts on “jh pastors summit notes, part 5”

  1. Great discussion guys. I like that you kept saying “depends on the person”. I’m 23, done with college, married, and living in Chicago. I’ve had a lot of youth ministry experience in the past few years and have been able to take on a lot of responsibility, which has taught me so much. But I wouldn’t have been this blessed if people didn’t look at me as a person and instead just looked at my age. Would you be willing to let a 21 year old run a ministry on their own? How about a dedicated 20 year old? Young leaders are so important- especially if they truly feel called to ministry. So always start by looking at their character instead of their age. You don’t want to be the one standing in the way of God’s call in their life just because you have decided their age disqualifies them. Give us young leaders a big chance, and even the benefit of the doubt sometimes. You may be surprised at how ready we are.

  2. Again, great discussion…

    I am 22, a youth minister, done with college, starting on a masters, married, and loaded with ministry “experience.” However, I am taking the CDL road test tomorrow. I do not worry about passing it (I plan to.) I am worried about using it. Maturity in driving is a scary idea. I do not have kids, so I drive like I am a newly-wed (slightly cautious, but still reckless.) I am freaked out about driving a van full of 25 middle school passengers.

    Thought 2: Most 22 year old come out of college, make a lot of mistakes, but remain slightly idealistic. Which is a plus and a minus all at the same time.

    Just my two mites…

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