Student Ministry is like College Football

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a huge fan of college football.  I especially a huge fan of the University of Alabama.  I was born and raised a Crimson Tide fan.  With the turn-around that we've seen in the football program, I have been reminded of a conversation that I've had with many people over the past year or so.  It involves the similarities between student ministry and college football.

Recently, I took the youth pastor position at First Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.  During the interviewing process, I was asked about my philosophy of ministry.  This was a term that I had heard but never got a good definition for.  As I thought about it for a while, I said that I thought the approach to student ministry is much like that of a college football program.  The head coach is the one that is hired for coming up with the gameplan (vision) and putting the right people in the right places for success.

The youth pastor is brought on staff (or should be) for a few reasons in my opinion:

  1. Grab hold of and teach the vision. What is the purpose of the student ministry?  How does it fit into the scheme of the overall church?  What direction is the student ministry to go in?  These are important factors in a healthy student ministry.  The youth pastor is the one who is to seek the heart of God and the pastor in finding out what the vision is for the student ministry.  A student ministry that just goes about doing whatever will not be healthy.  A student ministry that does its own thing apart from the rest of the church is setting up a division and trouble.  Just as a head coach formulates the gameplan, so the youth pastor must do the same.

  2. Put the pieces in the correct place. Let's face it, one person can't do everything.  It is important for the youth pastor to seek out and place other adults and students in places where they can shine.  After that is done, the youth pastor needs to let them do what God has equipped them to do.  I have never seen a football team that had just one coach.  You always see that there's other coaches with specific duties such as the offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, running backs coach, kicking coach, line coach, etc.  Ephesians 4:11-13 spells out that the work of the minister is to prepare God's people for works of service.  The youth pastor who goes at it alone will be severely limited in his effectiveness.

  3. Train. No matter how good we are, we all need our swords sharpened at times.  If you want to have a healthy student ministry, make sure that the leaders that are there beside you and equipped to the best of your ability.  Find out from them what areas they need help with.  You will be glad you did.

  4. Communicate. You may have a clear vision but if you do not clearly communicate the vision, you will hit a dead end quick.  Your team cannot read your mind.  God may have implanted an awesome vision of what He desires within your heart and head, but remember He also gave you a mouth to share it with.  You may have the greatest team of adults to work alongside of you, but if you don't clearly communicate the direction God is taking the student ministry, they will make their own.  Imagine what your favorite football team's next game would look like if all the coaches just did their own thing... not pretty is it?

Ministry is far more important than football.  I know that might come as a shock to some, but it's true.  If people will spend so many resources on making sure that a game is played to its greatest potential, why don't we do the same with the work that God has intrusted to us?  And by the way, ROLL TIDE ROLL!!!


Christy Ellis said...

This is the longest post I've ever seen you write. I hate to admit, however, that I did not read all of it. Football analogies and me don't go well together. I'm sure it'll be a big hit with the guys, though.