Five roles of adult leaders in large groups

Adult leaders are the backbone of a healthy youth ministry. In order to effectively minister to teens, your ministry needs caring adult leaders. But what, precisely, should those caring adult leaders do?

Many youth ministries use adult leaders as small group leaders, which is a good, healthy role for leaders. However, if your ministry utilizes a large group / small group framework, you also need adult leaders during your large group.

During large group, adult leaders play a vital role in welcoming people to your ministry. To be sure, student leaders play an even more critical role in establishing this culture of welcome. However, adult leaders are key here as well. When new (or more marginalized students) join your ministry, adult leaders are often the first people to welcome them. Adult leaders can sit with new students and talk to them, making them feel comfortable in your ministry’s space. What’s more, adult leaders can also connect these teens to other like-minded teens.

Adult leaders are also critical for crowd control. While you want your ministry to be a place that’s fun for teens, that doesn’t mean that you want people to be able to do whatever they want. Instead, you want teens engaged in what’s going on. Adult leaders help with this. Simply by spacing themselves out around the room, adult leaders can help curtail excess talking. If someone’s behavior threatens to disrupt what’s happening during large group, adult leaders can also deal with discipline problems with love and grace. It's far more effective for adult leaders to deal with disruptive students individually than it is for someone to call out problematic behavior from the front of the room.

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Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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Jen's Books

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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