Ali Campbell invites you to really believe in ‘teamwork’ for your own sanity and their flourishing

Look at yourself.

Actually, LOOK at yourself, look at what you are doing. Dashing about from place to place doing everything! You live by the mantra, “if you want something done properly, do it yourself … ” and everyone else is “only a volunteer, I can ask too much”. Yes, you are exhausted. Yes, you don’t remember which group you are preparing a session for – but you know you are out (again) tonight … somewhere with a bunch of young people – where you will have to lead, teach, explore, disciple, pastor, care for, bring the refreshments, clean up at the end, lie awake later wondering whether you spoke to every young person who came, wondering when you will have the time to follow up the ones who weren’t there … AND wondering if you can handle doing it all again tomorrow.

Now, look at your team.

Actually LOOK at your team. Wonder at the mad mess of people that Jesus has brought together. People who – despite their work or stuff or family – turn up on time, have a myriad of other commitments, and who put you to shame with their total dedication to young people. Wonder at their total amazingness, their willingness to hang out with young people and follow your lead, look at the breadth of ages and experience …

Wait a minute. Do more than look!

Your team, your volunteers are dedicated extra-timers. They are not canon fodder to chuck in a room of young people to make up the numbers. There is a great line from NCIS (The absolute smash hit Navy Criminal Investigative Service drama). The lead for many years was a guy called Gibbs - he had a bunch of rules and one of them just sticks out as I think of working with teams and volunteers in particular. It is not complicated, it is not a huge revelation – it is just common sense. It is this:

Don’t waste good - Gibbs Rule No 5




Don’t waste your team. Don’t waste these good people, these great people. Here are three things you need to do (if you are not doing them!)

INVEST in your team. Take time to get to know them. Build relationships with each of them, not just because they are on the team – but, because you care about them. This is not just because they turn up on a Friday night. Love them, serve them and invest in their lives with your time and energy. Make each one of these people feel and know they matter to you. Take time to visit them personally and say hi. Take time to get them together with a social and say thank you. Take time to get them together and do some training, support stuff, some investing in their spiritual walk and life. Be someone who brings them refreshment not just a list of demands for the next youth group evening.

INVITE them to use their gifts and talents. You are not it. Every individual on your team can and should be bringing their gifts and talents … their God given, spirit filled stuff to the youth work … some team will have

the confidence to offer what they can bring, others will lack that confidence but would love to be asked, others have no idea what they bring … they just know they love young people and want to serve them. Give them a chance to shine brightly when they come and serve young people alongside you. Don’t waste the good that God has put in them by not encouraging them to use their gifts and talents … You might need to get out of the way for them to be released. Part of your growth as a leader might be to see others raised up within your team who can preach the socks off anyone else in the Church, who have such a heart for worship it will blow the young people away … who have a testimony that needs to be shared … who will bake as if their life depended on it because they have the ministry of hospitality.

INVOLVE them in your plans and hopes and dreams. Sometimes, we are our own worse enemy – we can make ministry lonely (and it is lonely enough already … ). We kid ourselves by thinking, as the leader, here are things only we can know, only we can see. Seriously. Get a grip.

Sometimes we need to get over ourselves!! The vision God has given you for where things are going, could go, need to go is not a secret plan …

SHARE it with your team, PRAY together for the vision … allow it to move from being YOUR vision to one that is shared, owned, shaped by the whole team.

Involve your volunteers to this extent and it builds immense commitment and trust. Ministry is not a hierarchy. So often we don’t grow stuff because we cling to our “role” in a way that does not release and equip others … the more we involve people, the more God might put greater callings, gifts, desires, hopes and dreams in them … maybe even than ours. Oh that the vision for God’s Kingdom would be expanded beyond my meagre horizons …

This all takes effort. This is not a quick fix that will take you to a place of sweet dreams every night – but, give it a go. Invest in your team, Invite your team to bring their gifts, Involve your team in the vision and direction … and see what God might do!

Coming back to where we started and the title of this article, “It’s not all on you.” I think I would generally liken our ministry activity to that of John the Baptist. He prepared the way for Jesus. He wasn’t precious about his group, He pointed them to Jesus. I think a mantra we should have - it can replace the ones I used at the beginning, is a John quote from John’s Gospel, chapter 3:30.

He must increase, I must decrease.

As we prioritise the activity of Jesus in the lives of our team and our young people - His influence grows, reliance shifts - decreasing in influence doesn’t lessen our role we humbly serve both the team and our volunteers. Do we then discover that they are amazing preachers, worship leaders, organisers, tech wizards, pastors and leaders? Isn’t that incredible that God has used us to make space for others to grow in their gifting?

When this happens I don’t fret as I’m falling asleep, I can drift off at peace with a smile on my face.