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Lone Youth Pastor? Consider Cooperative Youth Ministry


Wondering why a lone youth worker tends to feel desperate? Keep reading for helpful insights about cooperative leadership in youth ministry.

Twenty-five years ago I was fresh out of college with an engineering degree. Somehow I landed a youth pastor position. As I sat in my storage closet of an office, I realized I had no clue how to reach and disciple teenagers.

Then I saw a flyer from National Network of Youth Ministries saying, “Reach teenagers together! Connect with other leaders in your community.” I thought, “What do I have to lose?” So I started calling other youth leaders.

At our first network gathering, I asked, “How do we reach teenagers together?”

Don’t Be a Lone Youth Leader

You may feel that same desperation in ministry. You aren’t alone. The greatest issue facing all leaders is isolation. God said in the beginning, “It is not good for man to be alone.” He created us to be in community. That’s why the network values the principle of cooperative leadership.

Early in my ministry career, I realized this: All leaders need to connect with other leaders on their journey if they expect to finish well.

Why Cooperative Leadership Matters in Youth Ministry

Cooperative leaders live out two actions:

1. They follow Jesus.

While Jesus was on earth, He could have done all the ministry by Himself. He “could have called 12 legions of angels” (Matthew 26:53). But instead He chose a ragtag group of disciples who led the greatest movement ever. We start leading by becoming followers of Jesus because greatness comes from serving Jesus first, then serving others.

2. They help other people follow Jesus.

Who are you encouraging to lead? Barnabas is my favorite person in the Bible. He gave it all away and equipped Paul and John Mark to do the same. Barnabas’ selfless leadership set the stage for the church’s persecutor to become its greatest catalyst (Acts 9:27). God is still using this kind of leadership!