Did you get a chance to read my post on having a minister to young adult households trumps having a minister to children?
For those of you who thought that was an interesting approach worth considering, how would you feel about taking the next step? Does a minister to median adult households trump having a youth minister?
What is different and what is the same?
Yes, but there are some differences.
While parents are the primary client for preschool and children programming, it changes with youth or students. During middle school there is a competition between the parent and the student as to who is the primary client. By the time a student gets to high school, the student is definitely the primary client.
Middle school and high school students are more likely to come to church without their parents than are children. They want deep acceptance by their peers and will emulate the behavior of other students. They also look to identify and connect with role models of healthy parents.
Then there are the perennial challenges with youth ministers. These are addressed below.
Yes, some of the principles are the same.
First, the focus should be on the whole family or household rather than just the students.
Second, parent involvement in ministry for middle school and high school students is essential to learn through modeling what the spiritual and life development of these students could look like.
Third, if the parents are assisted through the ministry of the church to grow in their own spiritual life as disciples, then they will be motivated to be sure there is age appropriate spiritual development for their youth or students.
The reality about youth ministers
A certain number—is it many?—youth ministers do not plan to be youth ministers for long. They are on their way somewhere else within the spectrum of church leadership. The percentage of youth ministers who feel a specific career-long spiritual call as youth ministry could be lower than we would like to think.
Second, my view of churches from 40 years of consulting tells me the average tenure of a youth minister is three to four years. A sixth grade middle school student may easily have three youth ministers before they graduate from high school.
Third, various youth minsters have a differing set of gifts, skills, and preferences. This is natural. One focus of their abilities is that some identify more with middle school students and some more with high school students. Whichever one they most identify with gets more attention and the other group tends to drop out of the program.
Fourth, church expectations of youth ministers are unrealistic. Many congregations want a superstar youth minister who all the students love, will emulate, and follow. Congregations want in their youth minister the drawing power seen in the Music Man musical from the 1960s. Conventional wisdom suggests that only one out of seven youth ministers have the superstar personality. What happens in the other six situations that express a different style of leadership?
How would the median adults household approach be structured?
It is amazingly similar to the young adult household approach. At minimum it takes three people. Depending on the size and financial abilities of the congregation these may all three be volunteers, all three paid, or a combination.
The minimum of three people include a minister to median adult households, a middle school coordinator, and a high school coordinator. These three form a team who look holistically at ministry to median adult households who are single or married, have children or no children.
How might this be handled in a congregation of at least 500 in attendance? The minister to median adult households would typically be a full-time staff person with a focus on the discipleship development of median adults, and an awareness and sensitivity to the spiritual and life needs of young adult families with children.
Two volunteers or part-time coordinators who make a three-year commitment to their role would work with this staff person. One focuses on middle school and the other on high school. These three function as a team to plan programs, ministries, and activities that touch the lives of family/household units. As appropriate they plan intergenerational or whole family activities that model the spiritual development of households.
A clear strategy with measurable goals should be developed in cooperation with a median adult households leadership community that provides an opportunity for deep ownership and feedback from heads of households.
At another time, let’s talk about how this works in congregations of less than 500 in attendance.