Go ahead – count them all up? Did you miss anyone? How about the parish secretary? How about the maintenance staff?
Anyway that you look at it, ministry is a team effort. If you think you are in it alone, you are wrong. If you think you can do it alone, you will fail. That being said, do you work with or against a very important part of your team–the parish staff? Your office is filled (unless it is after 8pm) with professionals who are dedicated to leading others to Christ. They facilitate communication, organize events, and lovingly serve the families that walk through your doors.
Many youth ministers take on the role of ministry renegade and quickly alienate themselves from the rest of the parish staff. Sure we youth ministers are different (maybe even a little weird) and sometimes misunderstood, but it is important to work with the parish staff and not against them.
How We Work With the Parish Staff?
- Help them to understand what you do. Whenever there is a change in staff we get asked the same question, “What do you do?” People know what a secretary does but they don’t always know what youth ministers do. Helping others to understand a youth minister’s role in parish life will make you less of an enigma and more of a co-worker.
- Keep them informed. Don’t expect them to figure it out; you need to tell them. Make sure everyone knows what your weekly schedule is like, since much of your ministry will take place outside of the office. Do they know how to reach you? How about sharing that famous cell phone number?
- Share the wealth. You probably can do things that others on the staff struggle with such as the computer graphics skills you use to make those amazing fliers! Offer to help with those things on occasion. You wouldn’t believe how appreciative your fellow staff members will be when you help produce an eye-catching poster for their ministry.
- Show appreciation! When was the last time someone thanked the staff? Write them notes, bring in some sort of food/candy, or simply stop and thank them for all they do. You’ll be amazed at the difference it will make.
- Build Relationships. Relational ministry isn’t just for our teens but for everyone we encounter. Make time to talk to the staff and ask them how life is treating them. (Knowing the names of their family members is a real bonus!)
- Pray and Play. Make time to pray with and for each other. Let everyone know if you plan on attending Mass or Adoration and openly ask for intentions. While you’re at it make time to have fun with each other too! The flying monkeys available on lifeteen.com make an interesting staff toy – flying and screaming from desk to desk.
- Forgive and forget. There will be moments of tension and discord. The question is what will you do with them? Too often we hold resentment and bitterness towards those we minister with. Seek out reconciliation and continue to move forward in the mission God has called you to.
- Be bold! Be joyful! Share the love! Don’t be afraid to help the staff take a step back and celebrate what God is doing in and through the parish.
Thank you for the ministry you do. Thank you for being an advocate for young people in your parish. Thank you for loving God through your ministry. Know that you and your ENTIRE Core Team are in our prayers.