Ever since our favorite (or not so favorite) Octa-mom, Nadya Suleman, burst through the delivery room and into our homes, I have been enthralled by reality shows like 18 Kids and Counting, Jon & Kate Plus 8 and Table for 12. Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar from 18 Kids and Counting amaze me. With children ranging from newborn to 21 years this family understands how to love, how to pray and how to help one another. Which got me thinking; could we, as youth ministers, learn a thing or two from parents running a household of 18? It only makes sense, especially if you view your ministry as a family, that some of the Duggar’s parenting tips would assist you in your ministry to youth.
I have changed a few words (italicized) from their TLC blog Tips for New Parents to make my point.
Tip #1: Youth Ministry brings some of the greatest joys in life, but it will keep you to your knees in prayer.
Tip #2: Don’t be a perfectionist, military drill sergeant to your teens and Core. Praise teens, Core and priests ten times more than you correct them.
Tip #3: Your teens and Core will learn more from what you do than what you say! Lead by example.
Tip #4: Realize each one of us makes mistakes everyday and we must be willing to quickly humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness and make things right (no change necessary).
Tip #5: True success will come as you love God and treat others as you would like to be treated (seriously, are we talking about families or ministry?).
Along with their tips it is blindingly obvious on the show that teamwork and delegation are critical to the joy and happiness of the family. Every child has chores otherwise mom would be doing 40 loads of laundry by herself. Assigning chores is often a dilemma in ministry. We don’t want to ask Core to do too much out of fear they will leave the ministry, but we can’t do it alone. So how do we delegate Core responsibilities in a way that every ones gifts and talents are being used for the glory of God? I think I might have some solutions.
Life Night Assignments
There are two options to assign Life Night responsibilities: assignment or discernment.
Option 1: Assignment
Assigning Life Nights allows you as youth minister to delegate specific Life Nights to Core members, either individually or as a team. Many youth ministers will use this option in the beginning to make sure “dependable” and “unpredictable” Core members work together. It takes a lot of guesswork out of the quality of the nights and allows you as youth minister to breath a bit easier. Plus it is a way to challenge introverted Core to share their gifts and talents freely.
Option 2: Discernment
As your Core ages, discernment is often the best option for delegating Life Night commitments. Discernment allows your Core members to review each Life Night and then pray over which one they feel called work on. Your Core knows where their gifts and talents are hidden and what life experiences they are willing to witness. When Core feels called to a specific Life Night that night will take on fuller depth and your teens will go further in discovering Christ in their lives.
Ministry Committees or Teams
Creating ministry committees or teams is a great way to maximize the gifts and talents of your parish family. Think about the things you do on a day-to-day basis that you could easily invite members of the community to do: graphic design, web site management, marketing, communication or data entry. What about the things you do weekly, monthly or annually like shopping for Life Nights or retreats, Life Night environment, service project coordination, fundraising, liturgical ministry training and coordination (lectors, ushers, EM’s), Core support, photography, videography or video editing? All of these important things can be delegated to allow you more time to be in lives of your teens.
Take some time and think about your ministry and create a “chore list” that will allow you to use 100% of your gifts and talents while calling your brothers and sisters in ministry to use 100% theirs. When we honor the time, talent and treasure of each person called to ministry, our dining room table, the altar, will be much larger than the Duggar’s 18-foot table. It will be immeasurable!
Note: If you will be attending the 2009 Life Teen Training Convention and you are new to Life Teen, be sure to attend the “Step-by-Step: Starting Life Teen” breakout session. I will help you take the next step to starting this amazing ministry there or call me with any questions.