Risk. It’s always there. It’s something that every ministry leader has to calculate almost every day. Calculating the risk of releasing responsibilities is for sure something we all do no matter what size or kind of church or ministry we have. However, it feels like that as the size of our ministry has grown the variables have multiplied, the number of roles have increased, and the impact of those risks have sky-rocketed.

I’ve had other youth pastors make comments like, “Well, you with your teams and scads of volunteers…that’d be nice!” We have about 50 volunteers (adults and students) and I just gotta say that feels like both not enough and way too many. It’s not enough because there’s so much more that could be done. But it also feels like way too many because it’s really hard to keep track of everyone and follow up on the responsibilities they all have. They’re all doing a great job and are all playing meaningful roles in our ministry. But, things do get missed…all the time. I’m not complaining about the volunteers…I’m just naming a reality. Releasing responsibilities is risky!

Releasing the care of students into the hands of small group leaders is risky. It’s the right thing to do but it’s also risky because they may not follow up with students in the way that is needed. On the other hand, they may do it better. Releasing set up for the room, the sound system, and stage into the hands of volunteers is risky, especially if they are teenagers. (We provide Checklists for our set up and production teams. They often have other volunteers helping them, as well.) They may do great with it…or they may really struggle with it. Releasing teaching into the hands of lay people is risky. They may not teach as well…they might teach better! (Maybe that’s a risk, too!)

We all take risks as leaders in ministry. But, I have to say that it feels like the number of risks and the intensity of those risks have significantly increased as our ministry has grown…and that’s stressful! It’s especially hard when 3 or 4 risks crash and burn all at once. The sound goes haywire…the teaching takes a dive…a student get’s injured…the video doesn’t play…a small group leader gets missed in communications…all on the same night…in the hands of volunteers. Yikes!

I guess my prayer is that God would empower me with…

1) A supernatural dose of patience because it is never appropriate for me to express frustration against anyone in front of other people. Nor is it appropriate for me to lay into them in private.

2) The wisdom and sensitivity of a shepherd so that I can carefully use each moment as an opportunity to encourage, guide, redirect, or teach.

3) The ability to better discern if someone is really ready to take on a certain responsibility.

The reality of risk is always there. But I think the fruit of a ministry that’s built on such a great team with so many great people is well worth the risk. And, I’m happy to take a few more.

Author: Jim Murphy

Associate Pastor | NextGen Ministries Covenant Church, Bemidji, MN

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