Whether you are a volunteer, a full time or part time paid staff person, or you got asked to fill in for a month five years ago, you may be asking yourself, am I getting too old for this? The answer is “No!”. Here are some reasons, thoughts, and encouragement as you continue to serve.
1. You are a child of God… forgiven by God, loved by God, called by God… with an opportunity to freely forgive, love and call the students into faith… you have experienced it, keep living it.
2. It’s our job to tell the next generation. Psalm 78 gives a clear indication that it is up to each of us, all of our lives, especially when we are older, to pass down the faith to the next generation.
3. Average age of youth ministry leaders is going up across the board. It seems that more and more of the effective youth ministry leaders are older. Maybe it’s because they outlast the others, I’m not sure. But either way, someone past the young adult age, is able to offer a stability that is foundational in working with students.
4. Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself, re-invent something about yourself, purchase some new clothes, learn a new technology, have fun with it. Don’t take yourself too seriously. On the other side, as you get older, you realize that there isn’t a need to be someone you are not. I have run into several student ministry leaders who didn’t have facebook. It not only doesn’t seem to bother them, the students don’t seem to mind either.
5. You are positioned to help the church “do” youth ministry. There is an advantage to having experience when it comes to building a team of leaders around you for ministry. You can truly help the church surround their students and walk with them in faith. It’s not just you trying to disciple, work with and pray for the kids. Help the congregation take on the role. You have some clout after your years of ministry.
6. Utilize the gifts you have been given. Maybe over time your gift set has grown. Or maybe you have really found the one or two things you love. Do those all you can. Your history with the parents, the church, and the over all ministry can also give you an edge.
7. Disciple others in leadership. Notice, Nurture, Develop, Deploy other young leaders into the ministry. You don’t have to stay up all night alone at the youth retreat, others can lead portions just as effectively, maybe better than you. Give them opportunities to serve along side you in ministry. Build a structure that will allow others to begin to step in easily. Succession is on key to effectiveness. But you don’t have to wait until you are totally finished. Begin allowing others to serve now. Mentor them.
8. It’s not about the program or traditions. It’s about the students in your ministry today. What you did five years ago might be a good experience and a foundation for where you are, but as far as the seventh grader in your group this fall, they need you now… who you are and your genuine care and love for them.
9. Relax– it’s God who truly does the work. We might water, plant or harvest, but it’s God who does the growing. You don’t have to do youth ministry, you get to be available to do God’s ministry – where ever he calls you.