The Three D’s of Youth Ministry Leadership

What if there was a simple and effective way to lead people with great response? What if there was a process that was hard to forget and essential to remember. Following the three D’s of leadership is effective, easy to remember, and most of all, highly effective. Read on…

I have been reading a solid book by Michael Mitchell called Leading, Teaching and Making DisciplesThis is where the three D’s of leadership have come from. You may have come across this before, but it’s a great reminder especially if you have been struggling to get others to follow your leadership.

1) Determine The Mission: Simply put, this is where we craft a mission statement, create core values, come up with slogans, and determine hoped outcomes for our ministry. This might seem basic, but it baffles me how many of us don’t know where we are going… I say “us” since I have been one of those youth workers who jumps into a new position, turns on youth ministry auto pilot, and continue as I always have. Fast forward two years ahead, and I realize that I really don’t know what I am doing… Sound familiar?

What is you mission? What are your values? What slogans communicate your ministry existence? What hoped outcomes do you have for your students?

2) Declare The Mission: This is where we communicate the mission with our leaders, students, parents, and overall church. Again, this sound simple doesn’t it? However, here is the reality I discovered painfully in the past: What is apparent and clear to me is not apparent and clear to others. Sometimes I forget that I live and breathe this stuff every day and I do not realize that others have to hear the mission many times before it sticks. When was the last time you asked your students, leaders, and church why the youth ministry exists? If you are like me, I don’t feel brave enough to ask. However, the answers we get will be telling?

Who are the people who need to know the mission? How often are we communicating the mission? What about the mission can be simplified to be communicated clearly?

3) Direct The Mission: This is perhaps the one that many youth workers struggle with the most. Basically put, it is implementation of the mission. That should be easy right? We know how to do youth ministry… We know what students need… We have a mission… And, unfortunately, the knowledge and mission often stay with us, and specific steps and processes are not handed down to others. It’s the age old issue of, “I can do it myself quicker, so why should I spend time training someone?” Fast forward five years and we are burned out, alone, and ineffective.

In addition, directing the mission is challenging if no one is on board with us personally. They might know the mission and agree with it, but it’s imperative that we develop into leader of influence who has followers. Influential leaders invest in relationships and listen to the followers. Over time they build leadership ‘capital’ with the people, and one day when the leader needs people to follow a mission, they can ‘cash-in’ some of their capital. In contrast, a leader who manages others expects to get things done simply because of their position, rather than their influence. This leader manages people, but does not truly shepherd them or direct them. Over time leadership capital is lost and the people leave… The only people left are committed to mission, but not the leader. This often creates friction as the people debate with the ‘manager’ as to how best complete the mission…

Directing the mission requires training and delegation as well as influential leaders who attracts committed followers. Who are you training? How are you influencing?

I hope this is helpful? It certainly has helped me think through how I doing in my leadership. I think I have some tweaking to do… How about you? 

Phil <><

photo credit: <a href=””>Matt Neale</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

2 Responses to The Three D’s of Youth Ministry Leadership

  1. LeaderTreks December 5, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    Great Three D’s, I love the parts where you acknowledged what happens if you DON’T complete that “d” in the right order! Good post! -Brandon

  2. Phil Bell December 5, 2012 at 11:29 pm #

    Thanks Brandon! Yes, so many of us are strong with two out of the three D’s, but it only takes us to be weak in one, and the wheels fall off!

    Phil <

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