“More Than a Face” (Youth Ministry Leadership)

more than a face

I talked to a pastor not long ago about his recent hire of a youth leader for his church.  He was so excited by the opportunity to have a “face” for his church’s youth ministry.

He described the young man as “attractive” to young people and the kind of “look” and “style” that would be sure to draw kids in.   He talked further about this individual’s personality appeal to students with his “stage presence.”   The pastor even described this young man’s wife as the “Barbie to His Ken” (#awkward) that could complete the “package” that he thought they needed for promotion and even video production.

We would hope that that youth ministry mindset is an outdated one. The old idea is that anyone working with students needs to be young and hip.  However, this thought that young people would be drawn into a church and somehow a have a more profound desire to be Godly by thin, young, in-shape, and attractive people continue to show up.  Even as this generation and our world shift away from this idea of photo-shopped perfectionism, this lingering idea remains in ministry?

Looking back at that conversation and hearing from friends that that hire isn’t going as well as expected, I am challenged.  Do not get me wrong, I am not saying God can’t use young and good-looking people (*see my headshot in the “about us” section… LOL); I am simply asking, are we limiting our ministry and potential?

Even as I build a team of paid and unpaid leaders in my church, am I challenging myself to look for “More Than a Face”?

Here is a quick list of challenging contrasts to consider for hiring and recruiting well in youth ministry?

  • Cool vs. Character: Are there individuals of unique Godly character we overlook because it may come in a less than cool package?
  • Age vs. Aptitude: Is there a value we are missing in our ministry of wisdom and life experience when we only seek people in a certain age range?
  •  Hype vs. Humble: Once the stage hype fades and the excitement is over, who are the people who are going to be continually humbly serving students? Are the most potent truths we are teaching taught through hype or humbleness?
  •  Fun vs. Focus: Is that what we are about, seeking out the most fun people, or do we need to find focused and faithful people that can direct students to Christ better than they can run a game?
  • Attraction vs. Attention: Are the people we seek needy for others to look at how attractive they are, or are we seeking people who are comfortable directing the attention away from them and toward Christ?
  • Personality vs. Perspective: Is it more important that people have the right personality or perspective?   Is the individual we seek out based on their human personality or their Godly perspective?
  • Love vs. Learning: Is just “loving on” students enough, or do we need leaders who can teach students something?   Is the goal of our ministry to have students feel loved or learn why God loves them?
  •  Connection vs. Content: In our desire for relational connection in ministry, are we also seeking individuals that bring deeper content to those relationships?
  • Career vs. Calling:  This one is more specific to hire but is essential.  Are we hiring people seeking a career based on their human talents and potential or people seeking a ministry based on their calling and Godly gifts? (https://blog.youthspecialties.com/potential-vs-calling/)
  •  Good vs. Godly: Are the people we are hiring and recruiting a good choice or a Godly choice? Are we looking for more than good people and instead only willing to accept Godly people as leaders?