Questions Can Help

Ken Collier, Director — THE WILDS

REASONS WHY I SEE THE NEED FOR A LIST OF QUESTIONS FOR PROSPECTIVE STAFF MEMBERS

  • I have met and talked with many youth pastors and “second men” in 25 years of ministry and have seen a few patterns in their frustrations. Almost always in the conversation, embattled men end up saying, “If I’d only known that it was going to be done this way…”
  • Realize that the pastor is already comfortable with his philosophy, but the youth pastor is in place to support and back the pastor in his philosophy of ministry. Somebody’s principles of ministry will be followed. . .it won’t be the second man’s! You cannot divorce yourself from his philosophy! You’d better know that.
  • There are problems that occur when the pastor says, “Youth is your department. I don’t really want to know what you are doing; just check in occasionally.” That may sound good, but, in essence, it is not! The ministry with parents and youth is too intertwined for that type of reasoning. A youth pastor is no match for an upset parent. Hopefully, the pastor would never be able to say, “I wasn’t aware that our youth pastor was doing that!” There must be a teamwork aspect of the two ministries.
  • I have seen a great discouragement on the part of second men when there is not time set aside for communication between him and the pastor. I’m not talking about large amounts of time, but just the assurance that there will be time to check with the pastor and see if you are on the same page.
  • Many of these questions presuppose that you have thought through what you believe on some of the issues that may come up. The questions may not be asked by you, but may be asked to you. Be ready!
  • Even though you are a candidate, this is not a time when you are trying just to “sell yourself” to a group of people. This is a time when both the church ministry and you are determining whether or not you are a “fit” with the ministry. The discerning work must be done in two directions. The church in “on trial” as much as you are!
  • Questioning is not the same as questioning authority. The spirit with which questions are asked is crucial. The attitude behind the questioning should be, “I’m eager to discern as to whether or not I could be a blessing and help to the ministry.”

QUESTIONS FOR A PROSPECTIVE STAFF MEMBER TO ASK!

  • May I have a copy of the church constitution and statement of faith?
  • Will my family and I be members of the church automatically or will we present ourselves for membership?
  • Can you please furnish a written job description for me to look over?
  • To whom would I be directly responsible?
  • Are there other ministries of the church in which I will have ongoing responsibilities?
  • Are there any other ministries in which I will be directly involved? Follow up: If my responsibilities were categorized in rough percentages among the ministries of the church, what would they be?
  • How often would I have the opportunity to meet with the teens? (chapel, Sunday school, Sunday nights, etc.)
  • What kind of youth curriculum is being used in the teen department?
  • What are the strong and weak points of the curriculum?
  • If there would be a change in curriculum, what would you like to see emphasized more, better, or perhaps even less?
  • How do we face the potential conflict between the youth calendar and the Christian school calendar? How are they coordinated?
  • Would I have scheduled time with the pastor for prayer and/or discipleship?
  • How often would we be having youth activities?
  • Pastor, what is your vision for what the youth program ought to be? What is success in the youth ministry?
  • Ideally, if a teen spent his junior-senior high years in the youth group, what should be characteristic of his life when he finishes high school?
  • What is the board’s idea (or youth committee’s ) of a youth pastor who is doing the job well? (searching for expectations)
  • How would you like me to handle and report conflicts or potential conflicts with parents? What advice would you give me to avoid conflicts?
  • Pastor, how does a Christian grow and change? (his doctrine of spiritual growth)
  • What do you see as being the main characteristics of today’s youth?
  • What do you desire to see as far as outreach for the youth of the church?
  • How do you handle meeting the needs of your family in the midst of a busy ministry?
  • What suggestions can you give me with the philosophy I have written?
  • What standards do you think are important to uphold in the youth group?
  • What is the next-step procedure if a teen decided not to abide by the standards or rules we desire to uphold?
  • What are some of the things you would desire to see in the life of a teenager who is in our youth group all of his junior high and senior high years?
  • How strongly would you want me to push Christian colleges? Do you want the youth group members to be involved in a college trip?
  • What colleges would the church recommend? Which colleges would not be acceptable in the view of the church?
  • Where does the youth group go to summer camp? Are you satisfied with the camp presently? What do you like about the camping program and what do you think could be better?
  • Would I be free to suggest a change if I thought it would be a good thing for the teens?
  • What are the biblical principles on which the church establishes its music program?
  • Are there any types of music that we should avoid in the youth group? What are they?
  • What kind of balance do you think is healthy for teenagers as far as social relationships between the boys and girls in the youth group?
  • What Bible translation(s) would the church recommend the congregation use and/or study?
  • What is the church’s stance on the Bible versions?
  • Does the church align itself with any fellowship or association of churches? What are the benefits and blessings of being associated with this group?
  • What kind of preaching/teaching should I do to complement the pulpit ministry of the pastor?
  • In what ways should I safeguard the testimony of Christ and the church as the youth pastor or staff member?
  • What percentage of the youth group goes to Christian schools? Public schools? Home schools?
  • What is the church’s involvement in international missions? Is there any way that the youth group presently gets involved in missions?

ADDITIONAL FREE (AND PROBABLY WORTH IT) ADVICE

  • Beware of two groups: (1) The group that tells you that “God has already told them” that you are the man God has for their ministry. (2) The group that says that they must have an answer within two days.
  • Many of these questions can be asked informally by simply asking about the ministry. Listen to what the pastor/board thinks is very important. It will come out in conversation, so listen intelligently and follow up with good questions.
  • “You’ll love this place! It’s a great place to raise a family!” Often the conversation is about the graciousness of the people and how everyone loves and supports each other. This is true about a balanced ministry but can often be said about a ministry that may have a weakness or an imbalance in its philosophy or its stand. We’re talking ministry, not fuzzies.
  • Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. had a saying, “Avoid trouble by having trouble.” This list of questions is not intended as ammunition to “Make trouble.” However, the time to recognize that there are significant differences in ministry philosophy is early, not after you have been in place for a year.