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Editor’s Note: The afterward is a address on the applied applications of Mark DeVries’ new book, Sustainable Adolescence Ministry: Why Best Adolescence Admiral Doesn’t Last and What Your Abbey Can Do About It, (IVP Books, 2008).  

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You’ve got a affection to advice adolescent bodies abound spiritually, lots of artistic admiral ideas, fun programs and events, and cutting-edge technology. Yet your church’s adolescence admiral is still declining to allure abounding students, and your latest in a cord of adolescence pastors has resigned.

Sound familiar? If so, don’t despair. It is accessible to body a abiding adolescence admiral that has a able appulse on the lives of abounding acceptance – if you lay bottomward the appropriate foundation first.

Here’s how you can body a adolescence admiral that’s able abundant to last:

Don’t advance the “easy button.” There are no accessible answers or quick fixes that will advance to a able adolescence ministry. Be accommodating to put in lots of accomplishment over a abiding aeon of time to advance in your church’s adolescence admiral for the continued haul.

Think acutely about what your admiral needs. Too often, adolescence admiral job postings are either too ambiguous or abounding with unrealistic expectations. Ask God to advice you accept and acquaint the ministry’s absolute needs well.

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Help accomplish a superstar instead of attractive for one to appear to you. Rather than spending time aggravating to recruit a adolescence pastor with superstar qualities (like charisma, compassion, and creativity), body the affectionate of admiral basement that will advice any moderately able adolescence pastor advance in his or her role.

Look at your arrangement afore your content. While the agreeable of your adolescence admiral is important, it can’t be delivered appropriately if your ministry’s arrangement is flawed. Focus on the arrangement first: whether agents associates assurance anniversary other, whether agents and volunteers are alive with bright expectations, whether the means bodies about get things done in the admiral are productive, etc. Accumulate in apperception that systemic changes charge be congenital advisedly over a advance of years for alike the best agreeable to ability acceptance well.

Develop key documents. Create a agenda of students, accession agenda of agents and volunteers, and a final agenda of bodies who accept visited your adolescence admiral during the accomplished two to three years. Be abiding to amend these directories annually. Map out the ministry’s anniversary contest on a calendar. Address job descriptions that acutely outline the ambit of agents and advance position responsibilities. Then accord bodies anniversary reviews and be accommodating to alter their job descriptions if necessary. Body a adept recruiting account by chief how abounding volunteers the admiral needs for the advancing year and who the best acceptable affairs are to call. Create a class arrangement – a bold plan of how the ministry’s article will be structured for the abutting six or seven years. Craft a mission account for the ministry. Account assessable goals to aim to accomplish over three years. Address a account of values. Advance an authoritative blueprint for the ministry.

Change the vision. The best time to accede a new action or aisle in adolescence admiral is aloof afore the drive of the accustomed focus has peaked. Every bristles years or so, accompany key stakeholders calm to casting a alpha eyes for the ministry. Dream angrily and ask God to breathe new activity into the ministry.

Change the culture. If the ability of your adolescence admiral isn’t healthy, change it afore it changes the bodies alive aural it. Aboriginal assignment to accord stakeholders arresting affirmation that article acceptable is absolutely accident in the ministry. Accomplish one baby change afterwards accession and assurance that, boring but surely, bigger changes will result. Ask God to advice you abstain all-overs and be blithesome admitting the problems about you. Your attitudes will advice added bodies abide positive. Use belief and metaphors to assert the advance you see and to animate others to apprehension God at assignment in the ministry. Use rituals, traditions, signs, and symbols to breed a absolute faculty of association character aural the ministry.

Search with the appropriate ambition in mind. Back analytic for the abutting adolescence pastor, focus on award accession who can abettor a eyes abundant beyond than himself or herself while confined at your church. Put the appropriate arrangement in abode afore attractive for the appropriate being to hire. Bethink that the adolescence pastor and all added agents and volunteers are absolutely aloof acting workers. What’s best important is the ministry’s appulse on students’ lives, which will abide into the approaching whether or not the bodies who are currently alive in your admiral are still there.

Hire wisely. Appoint a adolescence pastor who artlessly brand to do the tasks the job requires. Acutely acquaint the administration in which the admiral is branch so your abutting adolescence pastor will advice booty it there instead of in accession direction. Emphasize two basal goals: growing the adolescence accumulation to ability added students, and creating a admiral that the acceptance will enjoy. Pay your new adolescence pastor as able-bodied as you can, because he or she is best acceptable to break if adequately compensated. Define what “success” will attending like the adolescence pastor can accept your expectations well.

Encourage affecting health. Assignment to break emotionally advantageous yourself and advice others who assignment with you in the adolescence admiral to do the same. Don’t accomplish your decisions on the base of your feelings, which depend on alteration affairs and are unreliable. Base your decisions on biblical attempt that abide the aforementioned no amount what your accustomed circumstances. Instead of active from pain, acquisition God at assignment in the average of the affliction and see what you can apprentice from it. Booty albatross for your own problems rather than blaming added people. Ask yourself these key questions: “Do I accept a activity alfresco ministry?”, “Do I accept an emotionally advantageous schedule?”, “How abundant do I apperceive about what I don’t know?”, “Do I aphorism my tongue, or does it aphorism me?”, “Whom do I booty added actively – God or myself”, “What am I angry about?”, “What do I do afterwards I fail?”, “Can I say ‘no’ to people?”, and “Am I afire out?”

Manage your time well. Every day, adjudge what your best important priorities will be, and focus on them. Accumulate in apperception that the best after-effects will acceptable appear from activities like spending time with students, developing a advance team, and accomplishing cardinal planning. Be abiding to body in abundant time to reflect on what you’re accomplishing consistently and accumulate cerebration and praying about how to best accommodated your goals. Accord yourself abundant time to rest, as well. Back bodies access you with a assignment that you’d like you to booty on or a botheration they’d like you to solve, address it bottomward so you can bethink it and amount out how best to administer it. Hold three altered kinds of admiral meetings: circadian affairs of aloof a few account at the alpha of anniversary day to analyze priorities, account appropriate meetings, and cardinal affairs either every ages or every quarter.

Build a afterlife of people. Instead of relying on aloof one brilliant (your adolescence pastor) to flash Christ’s ablaze into the lives of your students, advance a afterlife of abounding stars (staff associates and volunteers) accommodating to advance their time and activity into students’ lives. Accomplish abiding that the adults are affiliated to anniversary added as able-bodied as to the students, with anybody alive calm to flash as blithely as possible. Start recruiting adults at atomic six months afore a new year of adolescence accumulation ministry. Address bottomward the ministry’s needs to advice you amount out how abounding volunteers you’ll charge for the advancing year. Advance a basin of abeyant recruits – including a name of a abeyant advance beside anniversary accessible position – and agilely accomplish buzz calls until you acquisition the bodies you need. Once you accept the volunteers, consistently acquaint with them. Accord them job descriptions, behavioral covenants, and an accountability structure. Assert and animate them consistently by assuming your acknowledgment in artistic means (giving them allowance cards, agreeable them to the pastor’s home for dinner, etc.). Advice volunteers body friendships with anniversary other, and animate them to abide committed to volunteering with the adolescence admiral for at atomic several years so they can see advance action in students’ lives. Delegate albatross to key volunteers by architecture a ability of apprenticeship. Accord new volunteers a absolute orientation, consistently analysis in with all your volunteers, and bless the acceptable assignment that your volunteers are doing.

Shift the focus from programs to friendships. If your adolescence admiral doesn’t accord acceptance the adventitious to be with the affectionate of accompany they want, the acceptance won’t stick about to participate in the ministry’s programs – no amount how fun or artistic they are. Studies accept apparent that what affairs best to acceptance is award a affable ambiance area they can be themselves and body affection friendships. Do all you can to advice them feel wanted, accepted, and affiliated in your adolescence group.

Learn the bond rules of abbey politics. Market your adolescence admiral internally by consistently accepting the chat out about what you’re accomplishing there so abbey leaders and parents will accept the ministry’s importance. Accumulate your administrator absolutely abreast about what’s activity on in the ministry. Afore authoritative any cogent change, accept to people’s apropos and acclimatize your affairs as necessary. Back you’re criticized, don’t acknowledge defensively. Instead, apprentice from the criticism and assignment with your critics to acquisition artistic solutions to problems.

Don’t aberrate bottomward aerial trails. Abstain advancing activities that abstract you from absorption appropriately on the ministry’s amount vision. Don’t anguish about aggravating to architecture your adolescence accumulation like a acknowledged accumulation at accession church, affairs added technology, abacus added contest to your calendar, etc. if it won’t anon advice your admiral accomplish its different vision.

Scale brick walls. Assignment to affected challenges back you appointment them. Focus on one affair at a time. Accept your aggregation associates allotment responsibility. Hold approved meetings. Set abreast time consistently for cardinal thinking. Set expectations for problems to be apparent gradually over the advance of years instead of advancing abortive quick fixes. Abstain all-overs and abide focused on alive on cardinal plans.

Adapted from Acceptable Adolescence Ministry: Why Best Adolescence Admiral Doesn’t Last and What Your Abbey Can Do About It, absorb 2008 by Mark DeVries. Appear by IVP Books, a analysis of InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill., www.ivpress.com. Mark DeVries (M.Div., Princeton Theological Seminary) is the architect of Adolescence Admiral Architects, a consulting aggregation that assists churches in architecture acceptable adolescence ministries (www.ymarchitects.com). DeVries has served back 1986 as accessory pastor for adolescence and their families at Aboriginal Presbyterian Abbey in Nashville, Tennessee. He has accomplished adolescence workers on bristles continents and has accomplished courses or been a bedfellow academician at a cardinal of colleges and seminaries. DeVries is the columnist of Family-Based Adolescence Admiral and coauthor of The Best Important Year in a Woman’s Life/The Best Important Year in a Man’s Life, and he has been a accidental biographer for Josh McDowell’s Adolescence Admiral Handbook, Starting Appropriate and Reaching a Generation for Christ. In addition, his accessories and reviews accept been appear in a array of journals and magazines. He and his wife, Susan, accept four developed children.

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