Why is there a Covenant?
Youth Pastors and Ministry Leaders across the nation will tell you that longevity in ministry is an absolute necessity if we hope to reach this next generation of students and their families with the Gospel. Quite simply, it takes time to invest in the lives of students and to build the trust that leads to effective ministry. Doug Fields, a 30 year youth ministry veteran and nationally recognized youth ministry trainer and advocate, stressed the importance of this fact when he began his ministry at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. He told Rick Warren, his Senior Pastor and author of the book, “Purpose Driven Life”, that it would likely take at least five years to see significant fruit produced by his youth ministry. Despite the need for longevity, national studies reveal the sad fact that the “life span” of the majority of Youth Workers in an average church is only one-and-a-half to three years.
Consider as well, the statistic from the Barna Group, one of the leading organizations focused on faith and culture, that 80% of Christians make their decision to follow Christ before the age of 21. These two statistics clearly reveal that having a consistent and healthy ministry to young people is crucial for churches and their futures. Yet for many churches, this also presents a huge challenge.
The We Love Our Youth Workers Covenant is meant to be a powerful and helpful tool for churches to use as they think through the key issues necessary for maintaining a vibrant youth ministry.
The seven statements come from the very real experiences of youth workers throughout the country. Through the implementation of these seven promises, churches can overcome issues of frustration, conflict or unmet needs. Some churches may find they already meet the seven areas of the Covenant. Others may find it beneficial in identifying areas needing change. All will almost certainly find it a helpful experience.
We believe that young people in the US deserve to find a vibrant church, aware of their needs and able and willing to respond. The Covenant is meant to be a significant step towards helping churches make the most of the benefits of having a youth worker. It is, we hope and pray, also a meaningful contribution to better serving and loving young people in the name of Christ.
The Basics: How to Earn Accreditation
We’ve tried to make applying to be accredited for the Covenant as straightforward as possible. We hope it will be a positive and thoughtful process for churches and also have a real benefit for youth workers.
Initial accreditation lasts for a year, but renewal is for two year intervals.
To be accredited you need to show that the church will take two actions for each of the promises in the coming year. That means the focus is on what you will do, not on what you have done in the past.
The accreditation is not a legally binding agreement and we cannot oversee how far a church carries out these actions, so there is a great deal of trust built into the system. However, when you reapply after the first year, we will ask you to show evidence of how far you have fulfilled your stated actions.
Once you are accredited, we will send you a certificate, together with electronic versions of the logo in various formats. You are free to display the logo in electronic or printed form. This includes displaying the logo on any job advertisements.
Here is the process we ask churches to take to obtain accreditation:
1. Either set up a special church meeting or set aside time in an upcoming meeting to talk about the Covenant. This could be a leader’s meeting or a church member’s meeting.
- This first meeting is a chance for everyone to be told about the Covenant, what the seven promises include and the benefits of being accredited. Copies of the booklet can be printed out or emailed to everyone so they have a chance to read it in advance.
- A PowerPoint presentation is available for download to help communicate what the Covenant is all about.
- Before the end of the meeting, set up a task group of two or more people to go away and work through the Covenant promises, looking at what the church is already doing and coming up with suggestions. Their brief could include:
- Exploring the questions at the end of each Covenant promise in the booklet.
- Identifying specific ways the church already does to meet the promises.
- Listing new actions to meet a promise or improve what the church currently does.
- Talking in depth with the youth worker to get their opinion and input.
Although it’s crucial to reflect on how far the church already meets the Covenant, the focus of the application is on the future, not the past. The task group will need to look at what the church will do in the coming year to fulfill the Covenant promises. This means listing two actions the church intends to take to fulfill each of the seven promises.
It’s important to include your youth worker in the process of applying to be accredited, but they should not lead the process or the task group as this may make it awkward to explore some of the issues.
The task group should write their conclusions down and distribute their findings to church leaders and members.
2. Take time in a second church meeting for the task group to report back and to make their recommendations. Talk through the different action steps and how to implement them in the coming year.
3. The church can then formally agree to apply to be accredited. The job of completing the application form can then be taken on by the task group or another appointed person.
Once you have sent in your application, our assessors will look through the commitments you have made and confirm they meet the criteria. If they don’t, we will get in touch and help you resolve any issues. Accreditation is initially for one year, but then churches can quickly and easily renew in two year cycles. If you need any advice completing the accreditation process, we’ll be happy to help.
We charge a small admin fee of $50 for each application to go towards the costs of running the Covenant. If, for some reason, your application doesn’t get completed or approved, we’ll return the admin fee in full.
When a church is accredited, first and foremost it means that you are taking the responsibility of employing a youth worker seriously. It shows you have thought about some of the issues involved and are approaching them with integrity and the intention to be the best employer possible. It also says something important about the values and ethos of your church.
For many families, a healthy Youth Ministry, as well as a healthy Children’s Ministry, are of key importance to choosing or getting involved with a church. This means that having a healthy environment for a Youth Worker is not only beneficial for his or her health and longevity in ministry, but it will also benefit the health of your church as a whole. We believe that The Covenant will have a direct impact on the number of students and their families hearing and responding to the Gospel.
But the Covenant also has other benefits. It means that you can display the Covenant mark on a wide range of publicity, including job advertisements. Prospective youth workers, thinking about applying for your vacancy, will know that churches who have achieved Covenant accreditation will have good standards of employment and are likely to be an excellent place to work. You can expect to attract more and better candidates if you are accredited with the Covenant.