One of the best relationships within the church that keeps it heading in the same direction and healthy is the staff/elder relationship, specifically that of the youth minister and the elders. I have been very blessed because I have a great relationship with many of my elders. Elders are responsible for oversight and prayer in our church. In many church contexts the youth ministry and the elders butt heads largely because the Youth Minister asks for forgiveness instead of permission. Ultimately, there is a disconnect between the vision and mission of the youth ministry and that of the church. I have found that you neither have to ask forgiveness or permission if you maintain three principles and allow the elders to fulfill their responsibility in all areas of the church.
Communication: Every good partnership/relationship is needs a constant line of communication. Ministry isn’t any different. When clear and proper communication about events, programs, and outreach isn’t communicated goals, values, and intentions are assumed, rather than stated. When communication of goals and values are communicated the relationship will most likely strengthen. For example, without communication the elders may get upset at the Youth Minister for creating a giant mud hole on the property, painting a room, or losing office space.
Quarterly Meeting: All businesses do this and provide quarterly reports. Why shouldn’t the church? This procedure creates accountability and allows every event, outreach, program to connect specifically back to the mission of the church. This falls under the overseer umbrella in the responsibilities of the elder. This also holds me as youth minister accountable. This encourages efficient use of time in all areas of ministry–everything is done for a specific purpose that corresponds to the mission, vision, values, and goals of the church.
Prayer: Whether it is vision casting, event planning, making a change, or tough conversation let the elders do their job and pray about it and over it. Invite the elders into your ministry by asking them to pray for specific areas within your ministry. This encourages responsibility, which allows and creates time for tough decisions along with wise decisions to be made. When faced with the choice of change, knowing that the elders have prayed about direction is an insight that cannot be taken for granted, whether they reach the same conclusion or not. Prayerfully considering choices and changes allow for the Spirit to work and create unity.
Timothy is appointing elders at approximately twenty-three years old in the church of Ephesus. I find this remarkable. Timothy was a young man discipled by Paul, and yet he had the spiritual maturity to be able to identify those who would best shepherd, teach, and pray for the church. The relationships between a young man and those whom he was appointing is inspiring. Without reading too much between the lines, the accounts in Acts and Paul’s written letters (1 Tim. & 2 Tim) encourage a good working relationship between the evangelism, teaching, oversight, shepherding, and praying of the church.