At Britannia Mines w/ Gator Shades this past summer.

In his book “Sustainable Youth Ministry”, Mark DeVries shares his perspectives on why many youth ministries don’t last. As I was reading, I found myself comparing the ideals for his concept of sustainability with my new role at Youth Unlimited. It is so easy to get caught up in the exciting things that happen in work with youth that the questions of how it will be maintained for the future are not asked. I found myself encouraged by how well Youth Unlimited is living out the principles I’m learning about in class. As I share some of the points that really stood out to me, I hope you will see why Youth Unlimited is a ministry worth investing in.

The first point has to do with appropriate staffing. While most youth ministries revolve around one key youth leader, Youth Unlimited takes a strong team approach.  This allows the team to care for each other as they serve and care for youth together.  I experienced this first hand when I began my internship at Youth Unlimited. I felt respected for who I was and the strength I could add to the team. I also could see that I would have others to lean on in the areas where I was not as strong. I appreciate our team’s diversity. We are not the same yet we are all connected by one mission. Nothing falls on one person’s shoulders and the ministry is more stable as a result.

Secondly, the book talks about the importance of clear vision. Many times in youth work we can get consumed with the immediate need and lose sight of why we are doing it or where we hope to take it.  When I was interviewed with the team, one of the first things they shared with me was their core values. This is something that we revisit often to be sure our work lines up with our vision.  As I am now on staff, the importance of these values is something I share and, as a result, I am able communicate this vision and values to youth and to those who partner with us. This helps all of us stay focused and avoid burning out.  It is sustainable.

The last is structure. When I joined the Langley team, I was able to see the structure that the team has been working on for years and, without doubt, still continue to do so. Something I learned quickly is if certain programs are not needed or do not work, our team will not try to hold tightly to them. Rather, value is seen in placing it in God’s hands and changing things if need be.

Although those are quick examples, I hope they help to paint a picture of what sort of team I get to be involved in and why I think it is an amazing long term investment in the future of youth work.

- Savannah Deepwell


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