Ben Bell blogged the question, “Can Church Support it’s Youth workers?” which Miz has picked up on. You can read Ben’s thoughts here and the subsequent comments.
I’ve seen quite a few projects go pear shaped. I think “support and management” is one of the factors but here’s an attempt to produce a chronology before the youth worker starts of mistakes that I’ve seen that have led to or contributed to projects failing and/or youth workers leaving or being sacked:
As a caveat though I should add that “employment” is a relatively new avenue for most Churches and they’ve learnt some tough lessons. Further to this there is a massive support structure for clergy, appointments etc, rather less so for youth workers!
1. Lack of Vision:
Employing a youth worker because the church feels it ought to do something with young people, rather than developing a vision of what and why
2. Failure to envision the whole Church:
lots of different agendas for what the youth worker “ought to do” as well as factions that don’t want a youth worker
3. Hurried Logistics Phase:
Not enough planning in the areas of contract, management, budget, recruitment, costings, implications. Failing to agree what experience/qualifications, giftings are needed
4. Poor Advert:
Failure to consult DYO etc. Failure to recognise that there are lots of jobs and not enough good applicants. Advert full of phrases like “We want” & “you must be” type statements as well as being so specific that good applicants are ruled out. Advert is boring, lacks vision or is so wordy that it gets overlooked
5. Assumption that people will apply:
Not courting applicants, not using lots of avenues for advertising and encouraging people to phone for informal chats (even if people request application forms they may not apply)
6. Lack of Pre-interview leg work:
Not taking up/talking to referees. Not making sure that there is a youth worker on the interview panel. Interview Panel not planning.
7. Sloppy Interviews:
8. Not involving young people in the interview process:
I’ve known Churches employ youth workers who were great at interview but lacked a raport with young people! Young people’s impressions, opinions are vital
9. Failure to sell yourselves:
Churches are so busy finding the “right” person that they are surprised when the “right” person declines. The Church need to sell themselves (in an honest fashion) as to why the youth worker would enjoy working there.
10. Inability to answer basic questions:
The Church are flumoxed by questions about budget, accomodation, salary, line management (doesn’t inspire confidence)
11. Refusal to start again
Offering the job to someone even though they don’t come up to scratch because they were the “best” of the bunch. Letting requirements slip in order to at least have someone in the role.
12. Premature Start:
Leting a worker start before job description and line management is in place. The youth worker will set off on what they think is the obvious path which will often be at loggerheads with Church, unsaid, expectaions. The first management meeting happens only when there is a BIG crisis.
13. No probabtion period:
A probabtion period is great for employer and employee. Regular meetings, short term goals and seeking understanding by both “sides”. At the end of this period there should be a formal review and a chance to reflect on role, job description, priorities and training needs.
14. No Commitment to Professional Development:
Professional Development gives great opportunity for personal growth and chance to look afresh at things and bring new ideas. There is a HUGE danger with Parish based worker that a worker continually gets busier and busier without reflecting why and not gaining either refreshment and or space to reflect on priorities.
Feel free to add to the list. I might attempt an add-on tomorrow on “mangement and support” when in role.
I’m aware too that the above list is all about mistakes on the part of the employer, I may need to look at failures on the part of the youth worker too (probably have a high “ouch” factor for me as I’ll be drawing on my mistakes)