Structure within
Youth Ministries

The purpose of this document is to outline high-level plans, thoughts, and suggestions how to setup
an effective structure for youth ministries. In brief, this document outlines the following topics

Youth Ministries

Structure within

table of contents

Youth Ministries

Board or Core Team

It is good for youth ministries to have a smaller circle of people, typically referred to as The Board or The Core Team. Both terms are used interchangeably but refers to same group of people. Usually, the Core Team consists of the youth leader and the leaders over each department. But of course, every youth makes the final decision on what works best for them. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, once said, “We try to create teams that are no larger than can be fed by two pizzas.” Perhaps a little out of context but the idea is good. It is good to plan vision and make decisions in a smaller setting and with the right people as decisions will be made much quicker and collaboration will be more effective. 

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Departments Leads

When Moses’ father-in-law visited Moses and saw that he was doing a lot of work alone, Jethro advised Moses to select capable and honest men who fear God and hated bribes and place them as leaders over different sized groups. In doing so, Moses was alleviated from carrying the burdens alone, and as a leadership team, was able to reach more individuals at a much quicker pace.
To have successful youth ministries, youth leaders can’t do things alone. Therefore, departments are crucial for active youth ministries. Below is a list of common departments that are recommended. To
see the big picture, specifically on how each departments affect different areas of the youth ministry, each department is separated in one of the three categories: Spiritual, Administrative, and Relational. 

1. Spiritual – Departments that affect the spiritual growth of youth ministries.
     a. Worship Team
     b. Prayer Team
     c. Growth Groups (also referred to as cell groups, home groups, life groups, etc.)
     d. Young Adults

2. Administrative – Departments that affect the administrative aspects of youth ministries.
     a. Social Media Team
     b. Media Team (including Sound & Video & Visuals)
     c. Financial Team
     d. Merch Team

3. Relational – Departments that affect the relationship aspect of youth ministries.
     a. Events Team (including Camps & Retreats)
     b. Greeting Team
     c. Hospitality Team
     d. Café Team

As presumed, it is good to have leaders that are capable and honest men who fear God and hate bribes to oversee each department. Of course, how this process happens varies on many factors including goals, qualification, characteristics, opportunities, availability, pastors/elders, etc. But there is some responsibility laid on and there is wisdom in having the youth leader involved in determining the department leads. Keep in mind, most times you will not have the perfect person as everyone makes mistakes and is in training. The youth leader will need to take a step of faith to identify who will best fit.

For smaller churches, it may be impossible to have so many departments. It such cases, it might be wise for the youth leader to limit the departments to what they can handle, given the point in time. It may also make sense to have an individual lead more than one department.

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Extended Team

Further into the document, there will be specific recommendations pertaining each department,
however, something that applies to each department is forming a proper team. The initial team leads could be preselected to launch each department. The next step crucial step is to allow interested individuals to be involved in the different departments. It is possible to assign where different people can serve, however, experience suggests that allowing people to volunteer in which departments they
desire to serve, while under someone’s leadership, typically results in better progress because people aren’t forced to do something they aren’t passionate about but rather they choose to do something they perhaps are good at and express interest. Below you can see a template, that can easily be reproduced, which can be used to allow people to sign-up and volunteer for different departments.

Setting up youth ministries in this manner allows for the youth leader to be concentrated on growing the department heads or team leads or individuals who would in turn lead their teams. At this point, the youth leader can cast vision for each team but not have the burden of executing that vision as it would be the department lead’s responsibility to lead a team that would execute the vision. In the long run, youth leaders can grow at least a dozen leaders and work with the youth, through the department leads. Also, people can volunteer and serve in specific areas of their interest – smaller tasks but more
people involved. Of course, this seems all conceptual but with proper attention and small steps, this structure is tested and proves to be effective.

For the sake of clarity, the full team is often referred to as The Extended Team. This includes to the youth leader, the department heads, and all the volunteers for each team. You can quickly see how more people are automatically involved with very specific tasks. For example, if two (2) people sign up for each department, that extended team would consist of 27 people (Core Team (13) + 24 volunteers).

Below are just a few benefits of having such a structure: 

1. The youth leader is not alone but has a whole team that can do ministry with him.
2. Growing leaders have a platform to develop and grow.
3. Individuals can volunteer where they desire to serve.
4. Rotation for growth and changing things up is made easy.
5. Turn over or change in leadership does not affect the youth ministry in general, as it only affects
a specific department of the youth structure.
6. People with different spiritual and skill level are still able to be involved and grow.
7. People are able to commit to very specific and smaller tasks.

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Team Meetings

To be effective, it’s good to have team meetings on a consistent basis. There are too many factors to provide any rigid recommendations how and when to have team meetings. However, experience shows that it is wise to have consistent meetings with the Core and Extended Team. Practically, many youth leaders hold monthly Core Team meetings and hold at least two annual meetings for the Extended
Team. Also, Extended Team meetings are held for any major events and/or conferences, especially
when all hands are needed. 

A logical question may arise, “why are the number of meetings not proportional?” The answer is simple, it is hard to be productive and come to concrete decisions with a very big team. Everyone has their inputs and opinions, and they aren’t wrong, but due to time and division, it’s often difficult to make decisions. Another sensitive argument suggests that not everyone has the experience and ability to make decisions that have weight and that look beyond today. Someone who leads a team will typically
respond in such a way that defends the interest of the team rather than responding with personal feelings and opinions. Of course, there is a time and place for that but someone who leads a team can often respond with weight and also consider the future. In simple words, a smaller circle with individuals who can carry responsibilities are much more effective and can be more concentrated on the big picture, leaving the detail and action items for each department to complete post-meeting. 

The above sounds good but can become an extreme if only perceived from that angle. One of the dangers of a youth leader only having meetings with the Core Team is such that the Youth Leader does not have communication or grip of the Extended Team. At the end of the day, what is executed is typically done by the Extended Team. Point being is that the Extended Team needs attention, motivation, care, and needs to be included in conversations. At this point, the youth leader or the department lead should consider having additional meetings that would provide that. The idea of having meetings by different departments or groups is and should not be about ranks/titles/positions but rather about setting up meetings that are effective and contribute to youth ministries being successful. Simply said, it is good to have hierarchy but that shouldn’t be the main focus as it could become a trap for conflict and division.

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Functions of a Youth Leader

Typically, the youth leader is selected/elected with the approval from the pastors, as most times they take a seat at the pastoral church board. The roles of a Youth Leader varies but tasks typically fall within the following four (4) categories: 

1. Sermon Preparation

A Youth Leader should spend enough time to be able to prepare sermons on all sort of topics for the youth. In addition, it is wise that the Youth Leader have the final say on the sermon schedule for youth services. Obviously, the style of services differ youth to youth. Some Youth Leaders allow speakers to prepare their own topics and other Youth Leaders pre-plan what are called series.

It is common to have monthly series separated into weekly subtopic. For example:

1. Series: Love (Month of February)
2. Week #1 Topic: The Love of God for Us Speaker #1
3. Week #2 Topic: Our Love towards People Speaker #2
4. Week #3 Topic: Love in the context of Marriage Speaker #3
5. Week #4 Topic: A healthy Love for Ourselves Speaker #4

It is also common to study a specific book of the Bible. For example:

1. 12 Weeks through the Book of John
2. 6 Weeks through the Book of Proverbs
3. 8 Weeks through the Book of Acts

2. Team Building

A Youth Leader should spend enough time forming a strong team. This document outlines the different departments necessary to effectively serve the youth. But responsibility lays on the Youth Leader to identify leaders who will be most effective in a specific department and will be able to work with and lead others. Youth Leaders should consider team building events. For example: annual youth leaders retreats, training opportunities, conference or seminars, hikes, etc. Events like these introduce new ideas and sparks better bonds from within.

3. Administration

As much as the Youth Leaders want to strictly focus on the spiritual aspects of their youth, it’s almost impossible to go far without considering the administrative aspects. For the most part, administrative departments can function on their own, but it is good for the youth leader to offer fresh perspective and identify areas that need attention.

4. Care & Counseling

Younger people need spiritual figures who can provide practical recommendations, advice, and be able to answer questions. Youth Leaders should be available and be prepared to minister to the youth. A good example we see in the Bible is the story of Joseph, who was wrongfully in prison. While there, he knew everyone not only by names but also by their emotions and character. When one of the prisoners was disturbed by a dream he had, Joseph was able to recognize that something was going on. To some extent, youth leaders need to know the condition of their youth and be able to recognize those who needs care. In a healthy sense, we take pride in our strongest leaders and we want them to surround us, but it is truly the spiritually hungry that we need to identify and provide necessary attention.

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Functions of a Worship Team

Typically, the Worship Leader is responsible for forming teams that would be ready to serve the youth and church. Worship teams includes vocals and band. It is ideal to have a few independent worship teams that would be able to systematically rotate when serving at youth or church services.
It is desired and good for worship leaders to be musically sound and have a musical ear. Equal to being musically talented, it is vital for the worship leader to be able to properly select the right song for the right setting. There are a lot of great songs and great ideas, but responsibility lays heavy on the worship leader to select songs that are Christ centered, relevant to the youth, relevant to the times/situations, supported by the church, and fitting the occasion. It is wise for Worship Leaders to be in constant communication with the Youth Leader. This enables worship to please God but also serve as a blessing to the audience.

It is strongly desired that each worship team would consist of 3-7 vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, synth, piano, and drums. If a youth group hinges on a single worship group, it is desired to have at least the individuals listed above. With additional interested individuals, new groups can be formed.

The worship team should work together to:

1. Form the Worship Teams
2. Set vision, mission, goals, and functions
3. Put together a rotational schedule
4. Provide Serving & Training Opportunities

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Functions of the Prayer Team

Typically, the Prayer Team is responsible for have a consistent schedule that provides opportunities for youth to come together to pray. It is common for pre-service prayers to be scheduled between 30-60 min prior to youth services. Some youth groups have evening or overnight prayers. It is also common for the prayer teams to set specific goals and prayerfully achieve them. For example, some have an
interceding schedule for needs and people they pray for. Keep in mind that not many people volunteer to be involved but this is a powerful ministry that really fuels up the condition of youth. 

The prayer team should work together to:

1. Form the Prayer Team
2. Set vision, mission, goals, and functions
3. Set time, place, and duration for prayer
4. Take initiative to lead youth to goal-oriented prayers
5. Find ways to relay the importance of prayer within the youth

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Functions of the Growth Groups

Typically, Growth Groups are created to allow youth to break up into smaller groups and do life in a smaller and a more intimate setting. Each youth group can decide how to properly setup the groups.

A few common ways to set up the growth groups include: 

1. Separated by age group.
2. Separated geographically.
3. Separated by gender.
4. Separated by interest (studying a specific book of the Bible, centralized around a specific activity such as baking or hiking, etc.)
5. Separated by the youth leaders with specific vision and intention.

The growth groups should work together to:

1. Form the Growth Groups
2. Set vision, mission, goals, and functions
3. Set time, place, and delegate responsibilities
4. Find ways to reach everyone in youth, especially those who don’t attend church regularly
5. Find ways to include and provide growth opportunities for everyone
6. Find ways to relay the importance growth groups to incorporate everyone in doing life together

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Functions of Young Adults

Typically, the Young Adults Team is responsible for working with youth that is approximately 20/21+. Some take it as low as 19 years and some set standard as low as 25 years. The age should be determined by the local youth leadership considering the context of youth. Some youths determine to have the Young Adults as one of the growth groups and others consider Young Adults independent of youth. Once again, the youth leadership should determine what’s appropriate for their local youth.

The young adults team should work together to:

1. Form the Growth Groups
2. Set vision, mission, goals, and functions
3. Put together events, Bible studies, discussions, etc.
4. Find ways to connect with other young adult groups. A great recommendation is YAWA. 

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Functions of the Social Media Team

Typically, the Social Media Team is responsible for funneling down any information, usually on social media sites, in order to keep people informed about any important dates, events, changes, etc. In the day we live today, most young people are on social media sites, scrolling through the feeds. Many make their schedule based on events they see. There are even discussions about having Social Media as a method of evangelism, as it is easier to reach people on their devices than in person. Independent on how far people take the Social Media ministry, in the modern day, having Social Media teams enhances many of the youths.

The social media team should work together to: 

1. Form the social media team
2. Set vision, mission, goals, and functions
3. Determine who is responsible for what function
4. Determine who has access, posting ethics, and proper QC protocols/parameters.

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Functions of the Media Team

Typically, the Media team is responsible for making sure that media related needs are  adressed. 

A few of the areas that are needed includes: 

1. Sound System – Accommodating any sound needs (microphones, speakers, instrument, etc.)
2. Video – Taking videos of the life of youth. Some youth groups choose to live stream their
services, in which case this team would ensure that necessary equipment is acquired. This team would work with the social media team to provide them social media content.
3. Photography – Taking pictures of the life of youth. This team would tightly work with the social media team to provide them social media content.
4. Visuals – Displaying words, Bible verses, announcements, information, etc.
5. Graphic Design – Creating visuals, youth logo, events designs, banners, resources, etc.

The media team should work together to:

1. Form the media team and make sure to have enough individuals to take care of media needs.
2. Set vision, mission, goals, and functions.
3. Work with the financial team and the senior leadership to obtain funds for necessary equipment.
4. Work out a rotational schedule to assist with distributing responsibilities and training purposes.
5. Work tightly with worship team to accommodate their needs.

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Functions of the financial team

Typically, the financial team handles any anything that involves finances including: events, offerings and donations, reimbursements, subscriptions, honorariums, etc.

The financial team should work together to:

1. Form the financial team
2. Set vision, mission, goals, and functions
3. Determine who is responsible for what function
4. Setting up and linking appropriate accounts
5. Determine who has account access, approval protocols, reimbursement process, tracking
methods, user interface, donation process, etc.
6. Establishing annual auditing process and procedure.
7. Collaborate with the Church Accountant to collaborate and link the accounts

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Functions of the Greeting Team

Typically, the greeting team is responsible for creating a welcoming environment for any events that take place. These include weekly youth services, church service, events, hosting other youth groups, etc.

Some methods of creating a welcoming environment include greeting people, considering the aesthetics of the gatherings, providing mints, providing welcoming cards, informing about any first time visitors perks, assisting people with navigating through the facility, providing resources, exchanging contacts information, assisting with seating, church info, new believers info, etc.

The greeting team should work together to:

1. Form the greeting team
2. Set vision, mission, goals, and functions
3. Determine who is responsible for what function
4. Put together and purchase appropriate resources and equipment.
5. Determine methods to improve the first-time visitor’s experience

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Functions of the Merch Team

Typically, the merch team is responsible for creating merch pertaining the local youth. These include shirts, hoodies, hats, etc.

The merch team should work together to:

1. Form the merch team
2. Set vision, mission, goals, and functions
3. Determine who is responsible for what function
4. Determine the appropriate merch for the right season
5. Finding vendors and negotiating appropriate pricing

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Functions of the Events Team

The events team is responsible for putting together events for the local youth. These include sporting events, gender events, seasonal events, fellowship events, connecting with other youth, etc.

The events team should work together to:

1. Form the events team
2. Set vision, mission, goals, and functions
3. Determine who is responsible for what function
4. Determine the appropriate event for the right season. Coordinate with the youth leader not to overlap events but to properly space them out.
5. Coordinate all aspects of each events including the registration, finances, advertisements,
refreshments, deposits, transportation, safety, etc.

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Functions of the Hospitality Team

The hospitality team is responsible for putting together refreshments for different occasions.
Refreshments include hot sandwiches, finger food, dips, fruits, vegetables, pastries, pizza, meals, icecream bars, drinks, etc. Different occasions include after youth service snacks, event meals, refreshments for visiting groups/choirs/youths, seasonal events, etc.

The hospitality team should work together to:

1. Form the hospitality team
2. Set vision, mission, goals, and functions
3. Determine who is responsible for what function
4. Work with the events team to identify when and what type of food is appropriate
5. Delegate task to distribute the purchasing and labor not to exhaust individuals
6. Work with the financial team to process all necessary expenses and reimbursements

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Functions of the Café Team

The café team is responsible for operating a full functional café. 

The hospitality team should work together to:

1. Form café teams. Rotation of teams is highly encouraged due to the high demands.
2. Set vision, mission, goals, and functions
3. Determine who is responsible for what function.
4. Determine the hours and days of operation.
5. Determine how to handle café requests for different youth events and non-youth events.
6. Determine how to appropriately train café staff.
7. Determine how to appropriately restock necessary produce and equipment.
8. Work with the financial team to appropriately keep track of all incomes, expenses, and

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Launching a Youth Ministry

There is a lot of information mentioned above and it all may be overwhelming. Below are some chronological steps of recommendation how to form or start the youth ministry. 

1. Youth Leader – Pray and allow the Lord to initiate His work. Listen carefully to the vision and
instructions He puts on your heart. Allow Him to go ahead. Playfully consider the vision that the Lord is initiating. Take the necessary time to begin with the Lord. At a time/moment when you feel the peace of God resting upon your heart to begin, move forward. Hinging on James 3:13- 18, pay the necessary price that the youth ministry is launched in peace.

2. Youth Leader – Meet with church leadership and consider their vision. Discuss your thoughts, visions, and what the Lord is putting on your heart. Be honest with yourself and with your leadership about the direction of the youth. You will not go wrong with being honest and communicating your desires and visions.

3. Youth Leader – Meet with functioning and successful youth ministries and consider their advice, experience, journey, dangers, challenges, mistakes, etc. Hear testimonies of how the Lord led other youth ministries. At the least, will allow you to build relationships with other youth ministries and simply be encouraged by what the Lord is doing in other youths.

4. Youth Leader – Form the Core Team consisting of the department heads. Be wise and don’t
hurry in selecting leaders. In the beginning, it may be wise to allow potential candidates to prove themselves in tasks you propose in order to understand if the individuals are fit for the
departments. Do less promising but build more relationships instead. Allow people’s desires
and commitments to naturally find themselves where they need to be. Some are skilled and
talented but don’t work well with a team. Others work well with teams but don’t have the skill
or talent. There’s a place for each person but there is also a good balance between talent and
knowing how to work in a team which will enhance youth ministries.

5. Youth Leader – Work with the department heads to establish the initial high-level vision,
mission, goals, and functions. The departments should be left to work and complete this step
but at the least, the initial conversations are done with the board.

6. Department Heads – Form each department with the appropriate volunteers. Work within the department to finalize the vision, mission, goals, functions, and all details, in great details.

7. Youth Leader – Meet with each department to continue developing each department. Have
appropriate meetings. Provide appropriate trainings. Meet with church leadership to continue
with the efforts of uniting to the church vision and with the generational disconnects.

8. Everyone – Wholeheartedly continue serving and ministering the youth in the generation that the Lord placed us in. Go forth in the love of the Father, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the fellowship and power of the Holy Spirit and be effective for the kingdom of God.