It’s taken me a long time to figure this out but I recently uncovered the secret sauce to great student ministry. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a degree from a prestigious Christian university. It’s not great curriculum, a killer band or an epic student center. It’s not even hipster glasses. It’s collaboration.
I’ve realized over the last few years, as we’ve added more and more staff to our student ministry team, that what makes our student ministry programming great is teamwork. I consider myself to be a smart guy, a good curriculum writer and a solid youth pastor but our team consistently makes me and what I do better. When I write a new teaching series and feel that it’s really good, it always comes back from team edits with better wording, more vivid imagery and more focused application. The truth is, as much as I want to say I’m a great curriculum writer, what our team creates together is consistently better than what I produce on my own.
For our summer camp this year, I asked a few members of our team to create a worship experience for our students. I had personally done this the previous three years, and I thought what I produced was pretty awesome until I experienced the worship night our team created. It was phenomenal. It completely blew me away. Team is just better. Collaboration creates a stronger student ministry. Our programming, curriculum, trainings, events, trips…everything is better when our team collaborates. I’m completely sold on team. I’m done trying to be awesome on my own.
Here’s the thing: I understand that not everyone has the luxury of working on a large team, whether your field is student ministry or something else. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a team. Make one. If I could rewind the tape and go back to my first student ministry job, the first thing I would do is recruit a team. I would invite volunteers to edit my teaching scripts and critique film of my teachings. I would gather together with a group of local student pastors on a regular basis, study together and brainstorm ideas on how to do student ministry amazingly well.
I believe that one of the major weaknesses of student ministry across the nation is that youth workers are far too isolated from each other. There is so much we could learn from each other if we were willing to share and listen. Our students deserve and need great student ministry. Let’s move toward collaboration.