The Youth Exception

In examining leadership models, one anomaly in the alternate model might be that of Youth Leader. This is particularly true at the larger end of the small assembly, with around 100 or more people.

A brief net survey of assemblies falling into this size and model group would indicate that a number perceive a need for some sort of official youth leadership. This may be an actual salaried or otherwise remunerated position, or function in a somewhat less official capacity, but with the sole purpose of acting as the youth ministry leadership.

This would appear to be an acknowledgment that youth programs are an exception in the model and require active facilitation. I think that I would agree. I would speculate that whereas the adult groups can draw leadership from the more mature believers within the particular group, youth do not typically have that option. The youth demographic does not have years of experience available. They also are members of the group on a somewhat itinerant basis (only until they are a couple of years older), when compared to adult groups, and do not have time to develop appropriate skills. Moreover, those are very busy years that do not leave room for a major leadership commitment.

Though we are speaking of salaried leadership, this is not to imply that somewhat older volunteer believers do not fill this role in an exemplary way. Historically, they have done so, and continue to do so today. However, the observed change whereby some assemblies employ full or part time staff in this single ministry position would tend to indicate recognition of a quantifiable requirement.

There is the possibility that the perceived requirement is a symptom of plain old parental paranoia, on the assumption that a staffed supervision is somehow superior, but that is just a wild guess. Possibly the staffed position is expected to guarantee time spent, programs implemented and accountability. In that case, we might be seeing the intrusion of the more secular values that has been observed with respect to leadership positions in the traditional model. But again, this is just speculation.

Lastly, the existence of this salaried position within the alternate model framework should not be taken to imply professional clergy. Although this might be the case, it appears to be just as likely that the incumbent would be an experienced youth worker just as often as youth pastor (that is, an individual with an academic or denominational designation).

I draw no conclusions here, but the phenomena does exist in a small segment within the alternative model. As such it does demonstrate the emergence of some degree of common thinking on this issue.


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