By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning
The move from rigid and isolated “committees” to a “team approach” continues in many congregations. Sometimes that movement is not much more than a re-organization and re-labeling that result in very little change. The fact is, as I like to say, it’s not what you call it, it’s how it functions. But Ginny Ward Holderness and Robert S. Hay provide a sound understanding of the “team approach” in their book, Teaming Up: Shared Leadership in Youth Ministry (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997).
The goal of team leadership is described as, “To involve as many young people as possible in the total life of the church, its worship, explorations (or study), ministry within the congregation, service, and fellowship” (xiii). The concept of team approach allows for many believers to be involved in the development of the youth ministry, not just a solo youth minister or adult volunteers.
According to Holderness and Hay using the team approach to youth ministry congregational leaders will come to more fully realize the difficult nature of relationships with adolescents by actually working arm in arm with them. The approach of team ministry can be used in both small and large churches. What is essential in the approach to team partnership is that adult leaders and youth share the leadership responsibilities for the group. Adult leaders will have their place in decision-making, but the group is lead more by the youth than adults. In this way, youth are able to develop ownership for the mission and direction of the group they help to create.
Specific issues addressed in the book include: aspects of forming team leadership in youth ministry; deterrents to effective youth ministry; and foundational concepts for youth programming. The authors confess that “youth ministry is an art, not a science” (p. 77) and provide a visionary and challenging approach to carrying our youth ministry that challenges many of the activity-oriented, entertainment-centered, and non-communal models found in many congregations. Recommended.
Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at the Columbia Theological Seminary. Formerly, he was Dean at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. He is the author of the bestseller, The Hidden Lives of Congregations (Alban), Perspectives on Congregational Leadership (Educational Consultants), and A Family Genogram Workbook (Educational Consultants), with Elaine Boomer and Don Reagan.
His books on Christian education include Mastering the Art of Instruction,The Craft of Christian Teaching (Judson), How to be the Best Christian Study Group Leader (Judson), Planning for Christian Education Formation (Chalice), and A Christian Educator’s Book of Lists (S&H), and Theories of Learning for Christian Educators and Theological Faculty.