I realised something this week. I'm a rescuer. I know that Jesus is the only real Saviour, but too many times, I come down on a wire to try to help people out of trouble. I don't mean that I'm working with a young person and I try to rescue them from whatever they've got themselves into, instead, I ask someone to lead some ministry and, if they get into difficulty, I rescue them. If you've been involved in youth ministry for a while, I wonder if you tend to rescue people too.
I didn't do it this week, but it was so close and I'm glad I avoided it. Maybe after 28 years, I'm learning; maybe it was a one-off, we'll see. We'd broadened the team for the Around the World Escape Room and everyone had got their puzzles in. They were brilliant. We really benefitted from drawing new people in. Their challenges came in with time to spare and they were really creative, but then I realised, we couldn't use one of them. We'd received a slide of movies for young people to find out some information about. Two things were wrong. First of all, the contributor had used photos from the internet without permission. We can't share those. Secondly, some of the movies they'd used were rated higher than PG, which means we could have been seen to be encouraging 11-year-olds to watch 15-rated movies, especially because they would have had to look on the internet for the film to answer the question.
We hadn't checked them early enough and were up against it time-wise. The first escape room using the new material was planned for that evening. Surely I couldn't ask anyone else to sort the problem. It was really late in the day. As I thought about it, I realised a problem with my approach. How would the contributor feel if I'd just changed their content myself? Would they ever help again? It probably helped that I was really busy that day and didn't have the time to redo the slide, but I got in touch with the youth worker who had contributed the puzzle. I explained why it needed more work and they learnt a really valuable lesson (they hadn't thought about ratings). I asked if they had the time to redesign the slide.
And so, a few hours later, the slide arrived ready to go. I didn't need to do the work, I didn't rule out that contributor helping again and they did a better job than I would have done. My chosen movies would not have been cool! They grew and I grew when I didn't take back the responsibility I had given away.
So, where are you likely to step in to rescue people that you have given responsibility to? Don't let yourself do it, even if sometimes that might mean that something isn't as good as you could have done (remember the awful mistakes you made last week, never mind when you started!). Why will anyone get involved in ministry alongside you, if you end up doing it yourself anyway? You obviously don't need their help. You will end up as the bottleneck that halts the growth of the youth ministry. Support people to grow to be the best they can be instead of rescuing them.
Dave Thornton is author of 'Raising the Bar: Nearly everything you need to know about Christian youth ministry'. Buy the book here.