One of my favorite things about YouthMin.org is that it gives me the opportunity to pour into other Youth Workers. I was recently coaching a youth pastor who asked me, what are some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my years of serving in youth ministry. That question inspired me to write out 20 lessons I had to learn, that I wanted to share with brand new youth pastors to hopefully help them avoid mistakes many of us have made. Ministry can’t be done alone, and we need to learn from each other!
1. One leadership style isn’t effective for everyone. We’ve got to be willing to change it up depending on the person.
2. Form a parent leadership team. Ministry staff alone can’t be your only sounding board.
3. Over communicate. When you think you have, communicate more.
4. Gentleness and grace should be evident to all (Philippians 4).
5. Ask one or two trusted people to critique your messages (or even handpick a team). Other than that … don’t ask. People can wear you down. If you can, join one of our coaching groups when we open registration up, as this is one of the things we focus on.
6. When you make a decision, explain why you made that decision. Don’t assume people automatically understand. This builds trust.
7. Don’t get involved in staff/church drama. Focus on what God’s called you to do and pray everyone else does too!
8. Sarcasm hurts. It’s not funny because someone is always the butt of your joke.
9. Address conflict right away. Don’t let things linger.
10. Let people know that God is working in your ministry. We assume people know this, but sometimes they don’t.
11. Don’t focus on numbers. They will always change. Focus on being true to your calling and making Jesus famous. Numbers are important, but they aren’t everything in youth ministry.
12. Pray against pride. Pride is one of your biggest enemies! Just say you’re sorry!
13. Look back only to learn not compare. God is always moving forward in fresh ways.
14. Limit drinks on 14+ hour trips. It’ll save you a bunch of time! ?
15. Thank your youth ministry volunteers a lot!
16. Preach about the hard things in life and how Jesus overcomes. This means that you need to talk about homosexuality, boundaries, and other things we don’t want to address in youth group.
17. When the world attends your student ministry, praise God! That means God is sending people your way.
18. Regularly pray for other student ministries to succeed. Your youth ministry won’t fit everyone. Think Kingdom, not kingdom.
19. Don’t waste time in the office. Use it to learn, lead, and pour into people. Stay away from a lot of “Facebook research.”
20. Live unconditional love.
God is still teaching me things all the time. What could you add to this list?