Think. Discuss. Act. Youth Ministry

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We Love Our Youth Worker

www.weloveouryouthworker.com

We Love Our Youth Worker started as an idea in the UK in 2007 through conversations with youth workers about the experience of working in a church. All felt passionate about working with young people and committed to serving the churches that were paying them, but their experiences of being supported were mixed. Often it was simply because churches weren’t aware of some of the pressures and issues the youth workers faced.

Talking and praying together, the idea of a National Charter was formed, a set of seven promises that would both challenge and inspire churches to think about better practices.

  1. We will pray and spiritually support
  2. We will give space for retreat and reflection
  3. We will provide ongoing training and development
  4. We will give at least one full day of rest per week
  5. We will share responsibility
  6. We will strive to be an excellent employer
  7. We will celebrate and appreciate

As part of the development process, the “Charter” was more aptly renamed to a “Covenant.” As a Covenant is an agreement between two parties, a response was developed for youth workers to have towards their churches as they seek to reach more youth and their families with the Gospel.

  1. We will pray for our church, its leaders and members and our community
  2. We will make our own spiritual growth a priority
  3. We will commit to continued learning and growth
  4. We will take at least one day off each week and vacation time
  5. We will ask for help and share the youth ministry with others
  6. We will strive to be excellent employees
  7. We will celebrate our church’s investment in youth ministry

We invite you to view the following slideshow for a more detailed look at the We Love Our Youth Worker Covenant (click on the dots under the slides to advance):

Why is there a Covenant?

Youth Pastors and Ministry Leaders across the nation will tell you that longevity in ministry is an absolute necessity if we hope to reach this next generation of students and their families with the Gospel. Quite simply, it takes time to invest in the lives of students and to build the trust that leads to effective ministry. Yet despite the need for longevity, national studies reveal the sad fact that the “life span” of the majority of Youth Workers in an average church is only one-and-a-half to three years.

Consider as well, the statistic from the Barna Group, one of the leading organizations focused on faith and culture, that 80% of Christians make their decision to follow Christ before the age of 21. These two statistics clearly reveal that having a consistent and healthy ministry to young people is crucial for churches and their futures. Yet for many churches, this also presents a huge challenge.

The We Love Our Youth Workers Covenant is meant to be a powerful and helpful tool for churches to use as they think through the key issues necessary for maintaining a vibrant youth ministry.

The seven statements come from the very real experiences of youth workers throughout the country. Through the implementation of these seven promises, churches can overcome issues of frustration, conflict or unmet needs. Some churches may find they already meet the seven areas of the Covenant. Others may find it beneficial in identifying areas needing change. All will almost certainly find it a helpful experience.

We Love Our Youth Worker believes that young people in the US deserve to find a vibrant church, aware of their needs and able and willing to respond. The Covenant is meant to be a significant step towards helping churches make the most of the benefits of having a youth worker.

Accreditation

To earn accreditation, a church needs to commit to two actions for each of the promises in the coming year. That means the focus is on what you will do, not on what you have done in the past. Initial accreditation lasts for a year, but renewal is for two year intervals.

The accreditation is not a legally binding agreement and no oversight is given to how far a church carries out these actions, so there is a great deal of trust built into the system. However, applicants wishing to reapply after the first year, will be asked to show evidence of how well they have fulfilled your stated actions.

The process churches are asked to take to obtain accreditation is as follows:

  1. A church is expected to set up a special church meeting or set aside time in an upcoming meeting to talk about the Covenant. This could be a leader’s meeting or a church member’s meeting. This meeting is a chance for everyone to be told about the Covenant, what the seven promises include and the benefits of being accredited. A booklet has been developed to help educate people about the Covenant and can be printed out or emailed to everyone prior to the meeting so they have a chance to read it in advance. The PowerPoint presentation shown above is also available for download on We Love Our Youth Worker’s website to help communicate what the Covenant is all about. Before the end of the meeting, set up a task group of two or more people to go away and work through the Covenant promises, looking at what the church is already doing and coming up with suggestions. 

Their brief could include:
  • Exploring the questions at the end of each Covenant promise in the booklet.
  • Identifying specific ways the church already does to meet the promises.
  • Listing new actions to meet a promise or improve what the church currently does.
  • Talking in depth with the youth worker to get their opinion and input.

Although it’s crucial to reflect on how far the church already meets the Covenant, the focus of the application is on the future, not the past. The task group will need to look at what the church will do in the coming year to fulfill the Covenant promises. This means listing two actions the church intends to take to fulfill each of the seven promises.

It’s important to include your youth worker in the process of applying to be accredited, but they should not lead the process or the task group as this may make it awkward to explore some of the issues.

The task group should write their conclusions down and distribute their findings to church leaders and members.

  1. Take time in a second church meeting for the task group to report back and to make their recommendations. Talk through the different action steps and how to implement them in the coming year.
  2. The church can then formally agree to apply to be accredited. The job of completing the application form can then be taken on by the task group or another appointed person.
  3. Once the application has been submitted, assessors will look through the commitments made and confirm they meet the criteria. If they don’t, there is a chance for the church to resolve any issues.

A small admin fee of $50 is charged for each application that goes towards the costs of running the Covenant. If, for some reason, your application doesn’t get completed or approved, we’ll return the admin fee in full.

The Benefits of Accreditation

When a church is accredited, first and foremost it means that they are taking the responsibility of employing a youth worker seriously. It shows they have thought about some of the issues involved and are approaching them with integrity and the intention to be the best employer possible. It also says something important about the values and ethos of a church.

For many families, a healthy Youth Ministry, as well as a healthy Children’s Ministry, are of key importance to choosing or getting involved with a church. This means that having a healthy environment for a Youth Worker is not only beneficial for his or her health and longevity in ministry, but it will also benefit the health of a church as a whole. We Love Our Youth Worker believes that The Covenant will have a direct impact on the number of students and their families hearing and responding to the Gospel.

But the Covenant also has other benefits. Accredited churches can display the Covenant mark on a wide range of publicity, including job advertisements. Prospective youth workers, thinking about applying for a vacancy, will know that churches that have achieved Covenant accreditation will have good standards of employment and are likely to be an excellent place to work. Thus a church can expect to attract more and better candidates if accredited with the Covenant.

Jake Kircher
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