Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Risks and Rewards of Friendships in Youth Ministry

I recently had the opportunity to answer a question for Slant33, a fantastic youth ministry resource from Barefoot Ministries. Three different voices answer one ministry question, sharing a variety of stories and insights from the youth ministry world.

The question: What are the risks and rewards of having your primary friendships be the volunteer youth workers you're leading? Here's a bit of my answer:
When I was first hired to be the junior high pastor at my current church, I felt a bit like Abraham, wandering as an alien into a land that God would show me. My wife and I dove headfirst into learning about our community, striving to find friends and peers in a new culture. We didn’t really know anyone, apart from my mentor who had hired me, so we entered into the hard work of building friendships. 

Some friendship seeds were planted but ended when people left to start church plants or moved away for new jobs. Others sprouted up quickly but were later revealed to be shallow and hurtful, destroyed by gossip and insecurity. Still others were choked out by the frantic busyness of life. Between jobs, kids, responsibilities, and ministry, friendships were relegated to the background of life. 
Slowly but surely, a few friendships took root, and the roots sank deep. Some of these were fellow youth ministers at other churches. Some were fellow pastors in my own church community. Some of the deepest were the very people I was called to lead and disciple—my volunteer team and interns. It surprised me to find that my best friends at my church were those I served alongside. 
Read my entire response--as well as responses from Jason McPherson and Adam Walker Cleveland--by clicking here.

1 comment:

  1. An argument could be made that having close friendships with one’s volunteer youth workers could foster a greater sense of trust and teamwork. However, when one’s primary friendships are with those on the youth staff, they open themselves up to some potential dangers as well.