Relevant Leadership

Helping Leaders To Be More

Relevant Leadership is a site to help equip, train, and empower youth pastors and their volunteer leaders to effect a generation of students for the Glory of God.

5 Thing Every Ministry Must Have

When I started out in youth ministry I thought leadership was all about relationships.  Although I wasn’t wrong about that assumption I was wrong about several things.  The first thing was that as the ministry grew and as my leadership expanded that I would have enough emotional energy to go around.  Each person we encounter or build a relationship with takes emotional energy from us.  If we don’t deposit more then we are paying out then we eventually become emotionally bankrupt.  I felt that bankruptcy on more then one occasion when I started in the ministry at 22.  It started off easy.  I knew everyone and I had time and emotionally energy enough to go around.  It wasn’t hard to have relationships with a dozen and a half kids and a few adults.  As the ministry grew the demands on my time and emotional account became taxing I couldn’t keep up.  I knew that relationships where important in both leadership and ministry but I didn’t know one central thing.  I really wasn’t all that important.

Image by Jenny Marvin from

Image by Jenny Marvin from

Here are 5 things that I believe every ministry and young leader need to have to avoid the burn out of emotional bankruptcy. 


Leadership Development – The first thing every ministry needs is leadership development.  If you view yourself as a leader then you need to be in the business of raising up other leaders.  The age of the expert has passed.  You don’t need to be an expert in an area to lead others in that direction.  You need a system.  People need to know what skills and virtues you want to see in their lives.  Then they need a plan to help them develop them.  Write down the top five qualities that you want to see lived out in your leadership team.  Then write down a plan to help people get there.  A good start is to build it around the following four stages.

1.     I do you watch

2.     We do together

3.     You do I watch

4.     You go teach someone else


Reporting Structure – You cannot be the center of the organization forever.  Eventually you need to choose a few people who will report to you.  Then everyone else needs to report to them (or someone else in your organization).  This is particularly difficult to pull off in a ministry setting because most people think that if you work for the church they have a right to your time and energy.  If you want to see your organization or ministry grow then you need to remove yourself from the center of it.  You will not be able to talk to everyone forever and you will not be able to solve every problem. 


Vision – I have herd it said that “Culture kicks vision’s ass”.  I believe that’s true.  We will look at culture in a moment.  However, vision serves a vital purpose in your ministry.  It shows clearly what you do.  It also says a lot about what you don’t do.  At New Life our church has a vision statement that says “To share, grow, and live the new life of Jesus with the world one person at a time”.  As a church and organization that means that we celebrate when anyone comes to Jesus.  That means that there are some things we don’t do.  We are all about sharing Jesus with people but our focus will always stay on the one.  As our church grows larger we fight to help it feel smaller and more connected. 


Culture – Every decision you make, as a leader, is a cultural decision.  I mean every decision.  Big or small, EVERY decision you make is a cultural decision.  The area you lead has a culture of its own.  You are the creator of that culture and its guardian.  If you are not intentional about the decisions you make then the culture you lead will be dictated for you.  As the leader your primary responsibility, after developing others, is to create and guard culture.


Model – If vision and culture create the WHY, and the culture you create defines the WHERE, then the model is the HOW.  Those you lead don’t just want to know what direction you are going but they want to know how you plan to get there.  It is hard to follow a leader that doesn’t have a plan.  After clarifying the vision of your organization do the hard work of writing out how you plan to get there.  The vision may be in stone but the model is in pencil so just know that it will likely change. 


These few paragraphs are a glace at five much larger subjects.  If you are building these things in your ministry then I encourage you to go read more about each area.  Ultimately they save you from running out of relational energy.  If you don’t develop them you will spend all your time trying to keep up with relationships you don’t have time for and spinning your organizational wheels without having a good understanding of where you are going and how you plan to get there.  When these things are in place something amazing happens.  You stop being the center of the ministry and things don’t depend on you.  Others rise up to lead and take on the role of ministers.  You have time to do what is most important and stop being the cap on your organizational growth.  Finally, you get a chance to lead a growing ministry and remain emotionally healthy.


Twitter: @Markklutz