A Different Way to Do Teen Ministry Campus Ministry Church, On Hiring Ministers

https://i0.wp.com/www.unitydanville.org/skedlogo.gif?resize=264%2C203I get emails —

I am on the search committee for a new children’s minister and in our brainstorming sessions, we have discussed what it might look like to have a more integrated ministry of our children from birth through high school and what it might look like to involve our families more instead of having them separated for Bible class time.

I’ve read your posts on youth ministry and really agree with you. I am wondering if you have any ideas on how we could hire ministers to help us with a different approach and what that approach would look like. I would appreciate any suggestions.

That’s an extraordinarily thoughtful question. Any paradigm shift in children’s and teen ministry requires ministers who are fully committed to the shift. Since the ideas I presented in this series run against the prevailing winds of the youth ministry culture, not many ministers are likely to show for an interview prepared to even consider the ideas.

A Different Way to Do Teen Ministry Campus Ministry Church, Prologue and Introduction

A Different Way to Do Teen Ministry Campus Ministry Church, Relationships?

A Different Way to Do Teen Ministry Campus Ministry Church, Mentors?

A Different Way to Do Teen Ministry Campus Ministry Church, Short-term missions?

A Different Way to Do Teen Ministry Campus Ministry Church, Putting Theory into Practice

A Different Way to Do Teen Ministry Campus Ministry Church, What This is Not

A Different Way to Do Teen Ministry Campus Ministry Church, Wrapping Up

What we’re talking about

For new readers, the idea is —

1. Every single outreach ministry, service project, and mission trip needs to be a congregation wide event. That’s the ideal. This means some programs get thrown out and some get added. It’ll take time.

2. The teen ministers and the ministers who work with adults, the elders, and the ministry leaders therefore have to meet and decide what they’ll do together. Neither side gets to dictate. They work together.

3. The teens work as full partners in the adult efforts — to the extent they can. They aren’t served. Rather, they serve alongside. They are co-servants or servant apprentices. The adults mentor by modeling the life of Jesus by serving others. The teens are served by learning how to serve alongside experienced, passionate servants.

4. If you have a college or single ministry, all the same principles apply. This is not about families according to the flesh. It’s about the church being a family.

5. I think teens should also participate in children’s ministry — as trainees and to see the passion of the adults for babies and young children. So should college students.

The classic example would be short-term mission trips. Rather than having a teen mission trip that’s all about getting the teens a great life experience, have an adult trip where the adults go because they’re passionate about the mission and the people they serve. And then invite the teens along to help.

This way, the teens see the passion in the adults, and they have a great life experience — but it’s an experience where they learn that adult Christians love the lost and take off precious vacation time and give their own money so they can serve the lost and hurting of the world. The teens will be much more likely to grow into mission-minded people if they see it in the adults.

If the only adults on the trip are the teen minister and chaperones, the teens will learn that teens go on mission trips and adults go just to serve the teens. It’s not as good of a lesson.

Just so, if the teens do the 40-Hour Famine program, to raise money for starving children, it works better if the adults — not just their parents — participate on a churchwide basis. This way, the kids learn both that starving children are worth sacrificing for and that adult Christians have learned that lesson, too, and live it.

The hiring process

So here’s what I’d do regarding hiring.

1. At least a week before each interview (more if possible), I’d send copies of or links to the posts and ask the candidate to read the material, pray about it, discuss it with mentors, and be prepared to discuss the material in the interview. You see, a culture shift requires some time to process. Many people need to discuss it to process it.

Even someone who might become the world’s biggest fan of the ideas might initially react negatively. Give the candidates time to mull the ideas.

2. But don’t hire someone who is only willing to give it a try. Any idea that cuts against the grain of church culture requires a huge commitment from the leadership. After all, there will be parents and children who disagree and get mad. There are always those who oppose change — any change.

Be sure the elders and preacher have bought in. I’d make sure they’d read the posts (or the ones that focus on what you most want to do) and make sure they’ve specifically given permission to go this direction. Again, you want more than mere acquiescence. You want them to stand with you when the high-donating parent pitches a fit. (And we elders hate surprises. Really, really, really. We can’t defend what we don’t understand.)

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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4 Responses to A Different Way to Do Teen Ministry Campus Ministry Church, On Hiring Ministers

  1. Alan says:

    We have implemented a similar philosophy… not to the extent that every outreach, mission trip, and service project is congregation wide. But we're close.

    We've assigned a deacon to lead a teen parents' family group. That group attempts to provide support and first-line teaching and advice on how to deal with issues particular to teen parenting. We do have separate Bible classes for teens on Sunday and midweek. But of course the teens are part of the adult congregational worship. We have teen events — not as substitutes for the adult events, but in addition. The teens are full participants with the adults.

    Before we hired our teen minister, we asked him and his wife to read Family Based Youth Ministry We told them that we shared the general philosophy described in the book. So far it's working out great… we've baptized a dozen teens so far in 2010, in a congregation with around 230 members. Of course, as that book points out, the real measure of success should be how many of those remain faithful as adults. Hopefully that will go well also!

  2. I think most congregations would benefit from using some of the hiring tools available in the marketplace. While I agree, philosophy is very important and believe there should be general consensus on the philosophy, that is not the only criteria that's relevant in hiring.

    Some people are predominantly doers, while others are collaborators, thinkers or supervisors (admittedly this is overly simplifying, but you get the point). What kind of person do you want?

    Nearly every minister job description I've ever read is simply ridiculous — no one could ever be all of those things.

    Do you want a teen minister to do the work for you? Or get the parents and families involved to do the work together?

    Generally, you cannot have both, you have to choose one or the other.

    But certainly, just getting general agreement on which to choose can also be a major obstacle.

  3. Jay Guin says:


    Thanks. I've added the book to my Wish List. Sounds like a good one.

  4. Jay Guin says:


    I agree. We are lousy at hiring. And it's harder to make a good hire at church than in the market place — in part because the jobs are so very relational, in part because the work is hard to evaluate, and in part because it's so hard to fire a minister (yes, really). I mean, in a business, if you make a bad hire, you pay two weeks severance and you can fire them 72 hours after you hire them. In a church, the minister packed up and moved his family to your town to take the job. He's loved by the church, even if he's lazy and has a bad attitude. It's hard — although often very necessary. Therefore, we need to be extra careful in hiring.

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