Editors Note: This is John Rinaldo’s fourth blog in his series on Multi-Parish Youth Ministry:
1. Multi-Parish Youth Ministry: A Gift and a Challenge
2. Multi-Parish Identity: Healing the Change
3. 8 Princples of Multi-Parish YM, Principle 1
In my last blog entry, we began to explore the necessary principles for a multi-parish youth ministry effort. Our ministry efforts need to be to Jesus centered, and, our vision for the multi-parish ministry efforts needs to be clear and concise, with 100% buy-in from the leadership.
Jesus Centered Ministry
Principle 2: Empowering Leadership
The next principle is empowering leadership. The quote “one is too small a number to achieve greatness” gets at the heart of empowering leadership. John C. Maxwell states, “It takes teamwork to make the dream work.” Too often, youth ministry coordinators try to go at it alone, becoming a lone ranger, and eventually, they burn out. It is the same in a multi-parish setting. The only difference is that they burn out faster then they would in a single parish setting. There are three keys to empowering volunteers:
- Let go. You need to let go of a few things. So stop thinking that you can do everything. Stop thinking that you can do everything better than anyone else. And stop thinking you have to do everything.
- Ask people directly for help. Most volunteers are not going to come to you to get involved. Most volunteers want to be asked to share their time and talents. If you have clearly articulated the vision of your ministry, then use that vision to excite and motivate people to get involved in youth ministry. If your vision does not excite the parishes, then you may need to go back and rework the vision.
- Allow volunteers to work in their areas of strength. I tell volunteers all the time that they don’t volunteer enough hours a week to be spending that time in their areas of weakness. They won’t enjoy the work and they won’t last. Let them tell you what they are good at and help them match their strengths to a volunteer role in the multi-parish youth ministry.
Use the following questions to reflect on your youth ministry and empowering leadership.
- What are your strengths and do you feel that you are consistently working in those areas of strength?
- In what ways can your organization better empower people?
- How can you shepherd volunteers to use their strengths in multi-parish youth ministry?
Remember this: the bigger the dream, the bigger the team. Multi-parish youth ministry is a big and awesome dream. Take the time to bring the right team around you.
Principle 3: Inclusive Structures
The challenge of working with multiple parishes is that we need to work hard to make sure that the structure of the multi-parish youth ministry is inclusive and that all parishes are involved in the process. It has to do with balance. It is imperative to find a balance between collaboration and the upholding of parish identity. Leadership teams that are part of the planning process are the key to balance.
The structure below can provide some guidance.
To ensure that all parishes are part of the planning process for multi-parish youth ministry programming, having teams that represent each parish is a good idea. In this structure, there is a core team that is representative of each parish and over sees and directs the entire youth ministry effort. The parish teams work closely with the core team and represent their parish’s needs and desires, as well as serve as planning teams for the ministry.
Once an inclusive structure is in place, you can begin the planning process. Work together with these teams to create the following:
- Short-term and long-term goals
- Measurable objectives for each goal
- Detailed action plans for each objective
Make sure you write these all out and follow through. Make adjustments when needed, but have it on paper so that you can go back and look at your progress and evaluate.
These structures will allow you to clearly know where you want to go and what you want to do, especially if all the parish voices are represented in your model.
For more on structuring for youth ministry, read the article of the same name at the following site: http://www.dsj.org/ministries/youth-ministry/coordinators-of-youth-ministry