By having a “youth pastor” a local church is indicating two things: 1) they are allocating resources to keep ministry to the students and families organized and moving and 2) they are asking that leader to help equip the congregation for life changing ministry to the next generation.
The job of the youth ministry leader is to not only minister to student and families, it’s to build in the church a culture of reaching the next generation. (This is one reason why I think the average age of youth ministry leaders is going up). Long after the youth worker has moved on, the effects of the church’s desire to disiciple students will be making an impact in the kingdom.
In reflecting on the impact of my youth ministry leaders growing up, I realized that some of it was personal – encouraging me in gifts, conversations with me, etc. But some of
it came from how they helped shape the church – engaging the church to think
about reaching the next generation. It then became the nature of the church to
attract students and student ministry leaders who could lead and serve. It also became the nature of the church to love students and invite them to experience Christ’s love.
Here are some ways a youth ministry leader can help change the culture of the church to become more engaged in reaching students.
1) Pray for your church – the single best way to change the culture in your church is to pray for the church. The single best way to pull in people to serve with you in ministry is to pray for people to serve with you in ministry.
2) Don’t say “no” for people – if you sense a prompting to ask someone in your congregation to help you in ministry, don’t say “no” for them. Ask. Give them a chance to respond. God may be working in their hearts and if we assume they are too busy or won’t be able to, we are answering for them.
3) Share the joy of ministry with others – find ways to plug in adults into successful ministry opportunities. Take someone with you to a game or an event. Pull in family members and parents to help with the planning of a one time outreach event. Don’t hoard the joy of serving in the church with a committed team.
4) Nurture your team from the start – no matter how any adults you have on your team – plant the DNA early – that you will meet with them, visit with them, connect with them and pull them into the vision of the ministry. Set the expectations. And let them be your voice with others around the church.
5) Invest a quarter of your time with adults – if you have 20 hours per week, 5 should be contacting, connecting with, calling, organizing details for the adults in your ministry (or future adults in your ministry).
6) Keep your language in front – Write the mission and plans where you can. Speak about when you can. Tell the stories of how student ministry is happening in your congregation. The use of language is one critical key to building a culture. Create quick, simple statements that people will remember about the mission and goal of your ministry.
7) Be committed to the long haul – Don’t expect for the culture to develop over night. Give it about 5 years. Help the church think about their role for ministry and reaching the students around them.