It was 9:28AM on a fall morning last year, right before my middle school large group program was about to begin. The morning was going pretty smooth, everything seemed ready for the program and students were beginning to show up, signing in and getting their name tags. As I watched the second hand tic-toc on the clock I began to get overwhelmed with anxiety, “Where are our leaders?” I blurted out loud. The one leader that was always on time gave a knowing smile to remind me that this was an every week occasion. I knew in that moment something had to change. It was no longer an accountability factor, we needed a change in our leadership culture.
After talking with some other youth pastors and some of my staff I laid down the ultimatum. I announced the shift from what was normal and asked them to trust me and give it a try. The shift being, instead of asking leaders to show up 15 minutes prior to program and arrive where the students arrive, we would meet 30 minutes before program in the staff office space. This locker room mentality before the big game would allow us all to really dial in each week, look at our content, how we will engage the students and have time for Q&A.
The shift did not come without a cost. Yes, it’s one more thing the youth pastor has to prepare for, but it’s totally worth it! When you get 30 minutes to lead your leaders every week you would be amazed at how much closer your feel to them, the pulse you have on their leadership and the trust that is continually established.
Here’s the coolest thing, it creates community for your leaders. When you create a space for them that doesn’t involve the common denominator that which is students, they have to connect with each other. We throw in free coffee with the signature creamers and some snack food to show them we do appreciate them giving us additional time. I have stopped asking leaders to show up on time because I don’t have to any more, they want to show up early and hang with their friends! 90% of my 50-60 leaders show up 30 minutes prior to one of our three student services every week, they are rarely tardy.
When your leaders are getting more time with you and each other they are better equipped for ministry.
The time with my leaders include:
- A conversation starter, giving them 5 minutes to connect with each other.
- The WIN for the week.
- An overview of the message and small group questions.
- Push any events outside of regular programming.
How do you spend time with your leaders?