Admiral William H. McRaven, retired from the U.S. Navy, said in his book Make Your Bed that if “…if you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle”. If I can borrow that sentiment from Admiral McRaven, “…if you want to have success in youth ministry, find someone(s) to help you set up, clean up, act crazy, lead music, attend events, drive vans, create graphics, record video, plan lesson material, lead small groups, and take out the trash”.1
You can’t do ministry alone. Technically and in theory you can do ministry alone but it’s not healthy and will have an adverse effect on students. Youth ministry takes a team. It takes the whole team.
Here’s why doing ministry alone will have an unfavorable effect on your students.
You won’t have enough time.
People have this innate desire to be wanted and long to be needed; Jr. High students are people too. They are full of feelings, questions, stories and have the ability to be incredibly awkward. They need direction, guidance and someone to be present in their lives. They need teaching with depth, opportunities to be listened to and to be challenged. They need someone to show up in their lives at non-church events. They desire friends to be there during hard times and need a disciplinary figure at other times. Each student doesn’t need you specifically but a team around them to support them. They do need you to assist them in forming a solid team around them. There simply isn’t enough time for you alone to invest into all of your students.
You won’t have enough energy.
A lock-in is where you “lock in” the students for the whole night and you play games, have a worship session, eat a ton of pizza, play more games and go without sleep most times. Think about that next day after pulling the all-nighter. Now imagine having that lack of energy every day of your ministry; that’s what doing youth ministry alone feels like. It feels a lot like being overwhelmed, underappreciated and in serious need of a 24-hour nap.
You will want to give up.
I remember going through a rough patch at a church. Do you know how easy it was to start looking at open positions at other churches and how bright the future looked at another church? Have you coveted another minister’s ministry? When you are doing it all alone you will be on the verge of giving up constantly.
Recruit people that love students and invest into and pray over those people! When you have those people surrounding you, lead them. Cast the vision and set in motion the path for the student ministry at your church.
Big Picture: How much are you doing that you’ve equipped your sponsors/volunteers to do?
Smaller Scale: What are you and your sponsors strengths and weaknesses?
Find people to help you paddle because you will drown doing it alone.
– Seth Tyler
1 Admiral McRaven, William H. Make Your Bed. Page 12