Jan 22

How to get the support you need from your church leader

I’ve worked with many church leaders over the years and have probably got frustrated with most of them at some point! I am sure that they have been frustrated with me too. My reflection is that my frustration probably came most of the time because I had unrealistic expectations of the support I desired or I expected them to simply know how best to support me without me ever making it clear. What I have come to realise is that actually if I want to be supported well, I need to be proactive in making this happen.

Get the support you needI am so concerned that many youth workers struggle to connect with their church leader. The statistics for survival in a youth ministry position are terrible. How can we expect to see lasting change happen if we are moving jobs every couple of years (or less), or giving up on the call totally?

Getting the support we want, and need, from our church leader is one important way we can create a better chance of not merely surviving longer, but starting to thrive in the leadership call that God has for us.

Here are seven ways that you can help your church leader give you the support you need:

1. Schedule regular meetings together

It is so tempting to assume the responsibility to meet together is theirs, but why? Yes, we want them to show they are taking an interest in us, but have you seen the diary of a typical church leader?! These are busy people. I have fallen into the trap of thinking that if they don’t ask to meet with me, they’re not interested in me and what I am doing. Wrong! So wrong, in fact, it probably means they love what I’m doing and trust me to get on with it. I need support and that means face to face time so ask them to book a regular time in with you. Whether that’s once per week or fortnight or month, it doesn’t really matter, but knowing you have the next meeting planned helps you to plan for these times.


2. Create your own agenda

I know I was tempted to think that my leader should know what we needed to talk about so I let him lead the meetings, hoping that what I wanted to talk about would come up. That is not the way to work! We know the areas we need to discuss so it is essential that we drive the conversation otherwise it becomes a pleasant catch-up, not a useful support meeting.


3. Share vision

You are doing what you do hopefully because God has placed you in that role. You carry the vision for what you are doing so make sure you keep sharing it with your church leader. They need to be inspired by you for the importance of young people and to get excited by what you are trying to do. Keep reminding them of it. If they catch it properly, they can be, and should be, your biggest champions.


4. Tell them stories

No, don’t make things up but keep telling them how God is working in the lives of the young people. Gospel encounters inspire us and keep us motivated for what we are doing. Let your leader know just how much God is involved with the young people and what he is doing.


5. Make decision making clear

If you need advice on a decision you need to take, make it clear to them and give them the options as you see it. If you think you know the best way then say so and ask for confirmation. If you need them to make a decision, ask them for one. Be clear on what you want. Your role is to take responsibility for your ministry but include your leader on the decisions you make so that there is a sense of shared ministry and working together.


6. Be honest and truthful

Don’t say you’re great when you’re not, and if something has irritated you, address it. Keep short accounts with your church leader, that way the devil has no way of coming between you and you build a stronger sense of team and partnering in the Gospel.


7. Mirror the support you want

Encourage them in their leadership. Leadership can be a lonely place. Sharing in it can be a very special thing. Tell them what you admire in them. When you see them do something well, tell them. Aim to encourage as much as possible. Support them in the way you would want to be supported.


Put these steps into action and you should see significant change in your relationship with your church leader.

If you find this useful, you may want to forward this blog post to them as it may help them understand more about how you wish to be supported. The important thing is to make sure you talk regularly about how best they can support you and cheer you on in your youth ministry.


What is your best tip for building a great working relationship with your church leader? What are some of the struggles? Please leave a comment or question below.