Sustainable Practices

Contributed by: The Network of National Youth Ministry Leaders (NZ/Aotearoa)

sustainablepracticesSFor so long ‘burn out’ has been synonymous with youth ministry. Ministry is sacrificial, yes. But where we can look after our workers, we must.

The Network of National Youth Ministry Leaders (Aotearoa/NZ) have put together a list of seven practices that will sustain youth workers, youth ministers and youth ministry volunteers.

The practices outlined here will deliver what they promise, and what we long for – sustainability in youth ministry. They contain beliefs and promises for churches and organisations about the principles they will use in employing a youth worker or managing a key volunteer youth leader. These are for churches, parishes and all organisations with paid or volunteer youth workers to consider and implement, and for youth workers to reflect on and to follow.

The 7 Practices are listed in the quick guide below. For a comprehensive outline of each practice, in English and Te Reo Māori see sustainablepractices.org.nz

For Churches with Employed Youth Workers

1. We will pray and spiritually support

  • We believe that our youth worker needs spiritual support in their work with young people.
  • We promise to pray for our youth worker and make supporting their spiritual life a high priority.

2. We will give space for retreat and reflection

  • We believe it is essential for our youth worker to take time to think and pray.
  • We promise to encourage our youth worker to use part of their schedule to give space for retreat, reflection and personal development.

3. We will provide ongoing training and development

  • We believe that learning the skills of youth work is an ongoing process and that it’s important to continually invest in professional development.
  • We promise to set aside time and money to provide training and development for our youth worker.

4. We will give at least one full day of rest per week

  • We believe that taking regular time off helps maintain our youth worker’s passion and energy for his or her work with young people.
  • We promise to actively encourage our youth worker to take at least one day away from their role each week to do something different.

5. We will share responsibility

  • We believe that having a youth worker does not release the rest of the church from our responsibilities towards young people.
  • We promise to encourage everyone to play a part in volunteering, supporting or praying for young people.

6. We will strive to be an excellent employer

  • We believe it is important to follow best practice guidelines in the way we employ our youth worker.
  • We promise to have clear procedures for recruiting and employing our youth worker, and to provide supportive management structures.

7. We will celebrate and appreciate

  • We believe it’s vital to acknowledge what our youth worker is doing and the commitment they have made to work with young people in our church.
  • We promise to make sure our youth worker knows they are appreciated, and we will celebrate their achievements.

For Church Management of a Key Volunteer Youth Leader

1. We will pray and spiritually support

  • We believe that our youth leader needs spiritual support in their work with young people.
  • We promise to pray for our youth leader and make supporting their spiritual life a high priority.

2. We will give space for reflection and rest

  • We believe that taking regular time away helps maintain our youth leader’s passion and energy for his or her work with young people.
  • We promise to require our youth leader to take appropriate and regular breaks from volunteer ministry for personal refreshment and reflection.

3. We will provide ongoing training and development

  • We believe that learning the skills of youth work is an ongoing process and that it’s important to continually invest in professional development.
  • We promise to set aside time and money to provide training and development for our youth leader.

4. We will give freedom to lead

  • We believe that empowered leaders serve the church best.
  • We promise to entrust our youth leader with the youth ministry.

5. We will share responsibility

  • We believe the whole church is responsible for our youth ministry.
  • We promise to encourage everyone to play a part in volunteering, supporting or praying for young people.

6. We will provide good management

  • We believe it is important to follow best practice guidelines in the way we manage our youth ministry.
  • We promise to provide clear procedures and supportive structures to assist our youth leader in managing our youth ministry.

7. We will celebrate and appreciate

  • We believe it’s vital to acknowledge what our youth leader is doing and the commitment they have made to work with young people in our church.
  • We promise to make sure our youth leader knows they are appreciated, and we will celebrate their achievements.

Download a PDF version of ‘Sustainable Practices for Youth Ministry – An Overview’ here

The full Volunteer and Employed editions of this resource are available for download at sustainablepractices.org.nz. These resources are meant to help churches take a significant step towards sustainable youth ministry. Longevity for youth workers leads to better serving and loving young people in the name of Christ.