Youth leaders column from Dave Fenton: Team player

So how do you run a youth programme?

Does everybody have to be involved with every decision or do you have a dictator? How does information get circulated or do you just get to hear about things if you happen to be around.

Whether you have a team of 20 or two people doing the work, organisation is a live issue. If I know something that the rest of the team don’t, do I need to tell them or would it be better not to tell them? How do plans get made? Is your whole work driven by the vision and energy of one person who just goes on producing ideas, or does everything have to go through a committee? The worst committee I ever sat on had the minutes of the previous meeting as its agenda, so we spoke about the same things every meeting!

The day before is too late

What prompted this article was a leader who spoke to me recently bemoaning the fact that very few people turned up to his leaders meeting. I asked him when he called the meeting. His answer was not unusual — ‘by email the day before’. If we are working in a team (and most of us are) we have to ask what is going to make that team function as well as it can. I would have a few essentials.

A regular meeting of the team (however small) is vital to pray, plan and envision. Teams actually get tired of people with excessive vision who come and dump their latest plan every meeting. It’s better if a vision comes to a meeting to be communicated, discussed and adopted. Somebody introduces it, we all have input (hopefully based on pre-meeting thought and prayer — which requires information) but it is adopted and moved forward by the whole team.

The same is true for detailed planning. Any meeting you have should be liberating. Once you have decided it is clear who is going to do what, whether that is the leader or the person ordering the pizzas, you can get on with it. Sometimes someone has to make a clear decision, but the team needs to know if the meeting has been switched from one venue to another, so tell them. Of course not everything is decided by committee, but a leaders team needs to be ‘in the loop’.

And one last thing for those who are ‘full time’. Your plan may not be the best plan — have the humility to allow it to be modified by those you serve with. Biblical leadership always seems to have a plurality about it. Be positive about that and work with your team for the glory of God. And get your leaders meetings in the diary for 2012.


Dave Fenton – associate minister at Christ Church Winchester and Training Director of Root 66 which runs training courses for youth ministers across the UK. He also leads the youth teams at New Word Alive.


This article was first published in the January 2012 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information. 0845 225 0057