The Leadership Team is Assembled – Now What?
Sharon Veltema on how to move forward once you have established a youth ministry team.
Now that the leadership team has been formed, establish a regular routine with the team that includes how often and for how long the team will meet. Whether meeting daily, weekly, or bi-weekly, plan for each meeting by including the following:
- Team building activities (when the team initially meets)
- Reading the Bible together
- Learning about worship
- Brain storming together regarding upcoming worship services
- Planning worship togetherEvaluating worship that has taken place
- Evaluating the leadership group
Note that planning worship appears toward the bottom of the above list. Although worship planning with the group may be the most important objective, it is necessary to be able to work together as a group, pray and read Scripture together, , and build trust with the members of the group in order to be effective worship planners. This gives a sense of purpose and also provides a framework for the group as a whole.
Team Building Activities
Team building activities can be as simple as sharing with each other about themselves and their families. There are also many team building activities such as the “Blind Polygon” activity. This activity works well for a group of 8 to 12 people and requires a rope approximately 20 to 40 feet long. Have the team form a circle, leaving a space of an arm length between each person, and each person closes their eyes or uses blindfolds. Place the rope in the center of the circle; the group must pick up the rope while blindfolded (or with eyes closed) and everyone must have a piece of rope. Once everyone is holding the rope, the group must form a perfect square with the rope. When the group feels that the task is completed, they may take off the blindfold or open their eyes. This activity reveals leadership abilities in the group; some members will follow directions while other members give them. This activity both builds teamwork among the group, and gives insight into how the group works together. Source: The Leadership Center at WSU, adopted from Kenneth Sole.
Prayer is an essential part of the spiritual leadership team meetings. It may be difficult at first for teens to pray aloud with each other. Beginning with prayer requests and allowing the leader to pray can be the first step. Remind members of the team that if they bring a prayer request to the group, they are also expected to pray regularly on their own for the request. This focuses the time of sharing on prayer, without allowing it to become a time of simply spreading information. Another way to encourage young people to pray together is to sit in a circle and tell each member the following:
“Today we will be praying for each other. You will be praying for the person on your left. Spend some time talking with that person, finding out what they would like you to pray about. Then, spend some time talking to the person on your right – the person who will be praying for you. After we have done this, we will go around the circle and pray. Remember to thank God for the person for whom you are praying, and then pray specifically for that person.”
The leader will begin the prayer time, praying for the person on the left, and conclude the prayer time when the circle of prayer has been completed. It is amazing how praying together and for each other brings a group closer to God and to each other.
The leadership team should also pray for all the members of the youth group or high school. Praying for other students is important, but it may be difficult in a large youth group or high school. Perhaps pray for specific classes or age groups. In a high school setting, pray for all the students who are new to the school – freshmen and transfer students. Divide up the new students so that each team member has a list of students for whom they will be praying. Team members can send a card to the people on their list. The card can say something like this:
I know that you are new to our school (youth group) and I want you to know that I am praying for you. I am praying that God will bless you and that your transition to our school (youth group) will go well. If you have any prayer concerns, please let me know.
Spiritual Leadership Team Member
If this is a school situation, include the locker number of the team member who is sending the note. The team member should be encouraged to keep their list of new students and pray for these students regularly throughout the year.
Make sure that all the young people know that the spiritual leadership team is dedicated to praying for the members of the school or youth group, and encourage teens to bring their prayer requests to the group. It is good to stress to the leadership team that prayers are kept in confidence within the group.
Another way to encourage prayer among the leadership team involves praying the alphabet. First, brainstorm to make a list of God’s attributes alphabetically with the group. For example, God is Almighty, All-knowing, Abba, Ancient of Days. God is the Beginning, Begotten Son, Bread of Life, Bright Morning Star. Creativity is probably needed with the letters Q, X, Y and Z. Some suggestions: God quells my fears, He quiets my soul. God is X-cellent, Yahweh, and Zealous. After making a list of God’s attributes, assign letters to each team member and spend time in prayer, praising God for his many attributes. (Kamstra, Douglas A. The Praying Church Idea Book. Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2001: 41.)
Keep a prayer journal for the entire group. Keeping a record of prayers that offer praise, requests, and thanksgiving is a great way to see God’s faithfulness at work in the leadership group. Prayer is a conversation with the Creator of the Universe, the One who cares very deeply for his children.
Reading the Bible Together
It sounds like a great idea – spend time in the Word together. But how is this done effectively with a group of teens? It’s important to recognize that it takes time to reach a level of trust in a small group where teens will be willing to share scripture with each other. There are several things a leader can do to facilitate effective group time in the Scriptures.
First of all, a leader should be willing to share favorite verses that have been effective in their own life. The more a leader shares, the more alive and powerful the Bible will be for the group.
Invite the group to picture themselves in the story. There are many Bible stories that will engage the group in the biblical setting. One example of this can be found in Mark 10: 46-52. Ask the group to sit in a circle, and to turn their chairs so that everyone is facing away from the circle. Then, tell the group to imagine themselves in the story they will hear.
“Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more. ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ So they called to the blind man, ‘Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.’ Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Jesus asked him. The blind man said, ‘Rabbi, I want to see.’ ‘Go,” said Jesus, ‘Your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.” Mark 10: 46-52 NIV
Once you have read the story, you can say these words:
“Begin to imagine the scene. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Feel? What do the outskirts of Jericho look like? Who is there? What do they look like? What’s the mood of the scene? Once you have imagined the scene, picture yourself inside the story. Let go of any desire for historical accuracy, and actively enter into the text. Watch what the characters do. Listen to what they say. What character are you? What do you say? What does Jesus say to you?” (Brown, Sharon Garlough, Sensible Shoes. WestBow Press, 2010: 265)
Now, read the story slowly two or three more times, allowing the group to picture themselves as a character in the story. Invite the group to share their feelings about where they are in the story.
Another suggestion is to challenge the group to a Bible assignment. For instance, ask each member of the group to select an attribute of God, such as faithful, just, omnipotent, powerful, etc. Then, ask each person to spend time finding verses that speak to the attribute that they have selected. Share the verses with each other as a group, and encourage the group members to talk about what has been selected.
Once a level of trust has been built in the group, ask group members to share favorite verses and also tell why these verses are important to them. Group members can also bring up verses that they have read in their personal devotional time prior to each meeting.
Consider selecting a book of the Bible to read together. Have the members of the group read each chapter through several times on their own before coming together as a group to read it. Have a study Bible and different translations available when reading to stretch the group’s understanding of the passage. Do not try to read too much at one time. The idea is to meditate and digest what is read together. Ask each member of the group what words or phrases stood out to them as they read the chapter by themselves. Share any insights that occur when reading the passage together as a group.
Learning About Worship, Brainstorming Ideas and Planning Worship
The article “Learning About Worship” provides discussion sheets which include information and questions for groups to consider when learning about worship. This article also discusses brainstorming ideas, worship planning, and worship evaluation.
Evaluation of the goals and objectives of the leadership team is helpful for both the members and the leader. Consider a survey after a half year or a year. Include questions such as:
- What value do you see in being a part of the spiritual leadership team?
- Have you grown in your faith as a result of being on this team?
- What more can the leadership team do for the teens in our youth group or school?
- What do you feel you have contributed to this committee over the past year?
- What could we have done better?
- What are your hopes and dreams for the next leadership committee?
It’s helpful for the members of the spiritual leadership team and the youth leader to contemplate these questions and put answers in written form. Encourage the team members to share their answers, especially those pertaining to spiritual growth and the hopes and dreams for the group. After a year of praying together, reading the Bible together, studying about worship, brainstorming worship ideas, and planning for worship, God will work in the minds and hearts of these young people in a transforming way. Reflect on God’s goodness and the way in which his Spirit has moved through the spiritual leadership team and the youth in the church or school, giving thanks to God for his power and faithfulness.
- Set times and meeting length are most effective for leadership meetings.
- The spiritual leadership meetings should include activities that will build unity and trust within the group, and allow the group to grow in faith and closer to each other.
- Meetings include team building activities, prayer, Bible reading, learning about worship, brainstorming ideas for worship, planning worship, evaluating worship and team evaluation.
Sensible Shoes (WestBow Press, 2010) Sharon Garlough Brown
The Praying Church Idea Book (Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2001) Douglas A. Kamstra
- Teens, Worship, and Faith Formation
- Developing an Effective Youth Leadership Team
- Learning About Worship
- Planning Worship With Teens