I spent a few minutes on the phone with a Youth Pastor this morning and somewhere along the way, the conversation touched on "bottlenecks"...those things that get in the way and slow ministry down. We didn't identify any, just mentioned the concept briefly. Since then I've been thinking about junior high ministry and some of the potential bottlenecks youth groups face. Here are three that have jumped out.
My job as the point person for our junior high ministry is to empower, equip and encourage the paid and volunteer team I lead. When I get too caught up in details and try to micro-manage every aspect of our ministry it only slows things down and ultimately discourages growth. I have also learned that if my direct supervisor is a micro-manager, ministry is slowed down just as much because I don't feel the freedom to empower others and let ministry loose. Really, micro-management anywhere in the "chain of command" serves to slow down all areas of ministry below.
Since the point person's role is to empower, equip and encourage others to lead, what happens if that leader insists on being in charge of, present at, on stage during and getting credit for every piece of ministry? Obviously ministry slows down. As your ministry grows and expands, it's impossible for the point person to be a major force in everything. I believe this is one of the major bottlenecks to healthy ministry. Sure, a charismatic leader can attract a crowd but if that leader doesn't allow others to rise up and take a share of the spotlight, the ministry will be limited.
Obviously we need policies, but how many? If it takes filling out two online forms and a hard-copy that has to be hand delivered to church janitor in order to add an extra row of chairs to your meeting space, you're in trouble. When I look at Saddleback's history of growth, both church-wide and in our youth department, one of the key factors seems to be a shockingly limited amount of formal policy. In fact, historically as we have added policies over the years we have limited growth. Don't neglect good policy making. But don't create bottlenecks by creating them when they aren't needed.
Okay...add your "bottlenecks" to the list!