Churches are always looking for youth workers. It may seem this way because of the high rate of turnover. Or maybe it’s the first position churches try to hire. Maybe it’s because many are part-time positions. I get calls here and there about churches looking for someone to serve in student ministry in their church. I know it’s not easy! Transitions are tough. Local church student ministry positions, in general, aren’t growing. The latest Group Magazine stated that youth ministry job salaries peaked in 2010 and that the number of part-time youth ministry workers has grown 50% in the last ten years. The easiest part may be deciding you want a youth worker in your church! From there the journey begins.
In Effective Staffing for Vital Churches, Bill Easum advises this hiring order in churches: Pastor, then worship leadership, then children’s ministry leadership, then youth ministry leadership. I’m not saying this has to be the order, but churches may want to consider connecting with children’s ministry and growing up a ministry to teens. If your church senses the need to hire a youth worker, I’m praying for God’s best for you!
For the churches who believe it’s time to pull in a paid youth worker – part-time or full-time – here’s a list of ideas to get you started on finding the right person.
PLACES TO LOOK FOR A YOUTH WORKER
- PRAYER TEAM – Set a specific time to pray for the students in your church, in your community and specifically for a leader who can serve in the ministry. If you have a committee working on employing a youth worker, set up a regular prayer schedule for them to meet and pray. It’s not an easy task to find a youth worker. It much be spirit directed. Prayer is key to any hiring process.
- HOME GROWN LEADER – Who in your church who is a natural fit for ministry to students? Has someone already been doing it? Could you visit with them about taking it up a notch and taking on the paid role officially? Typically, those planted in the community will have a greater chance of sticking with the ministry longer.
- PASTOR LED STUDENT MINISTRY – Depending on the size of the church and the gifts of the pastor, maybe you could consider hiring another role and turn over student ministry to the pastor for a while. Other roles that might free up the pastor could be a part-time exec pastor, another admin person or visiting pastor.
- COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES – For the part-time student ministry roles, this might be a good place to look. Send an email to campus ministry leaders asking if there may be a ministry minded, Christian Ministry student who might consider applying for the role. This may be difficult for long term, but could help build a ministry or program. What about Christian Colleges that have a youth ministry major? Talk with them.
- POST THE JOB AT SEMINARIES – If you are beginning a full time role, you can post at seminary’s around the country. You never know you may connect with who will relocate to serve in your church.
- FACEBOOK GROUPS – There are countless student ministry leader Facebook Groups you can post about job openings.
- CHRISTIANS COACHES OR TEACHERS – Are there any coaches or teachers who may consider serving in the student ministry role? If the role is part-time, this is a huge benefit to the ministry because of the instant connections! These folks will probably have to be approached about the job, but may be a fit! Ask the students in your church who the Christian Leaders are in their schools.
- ADVERTISE ON YOUTH MINISTRY JOB SITES – There many online job posting boards where you can spread the word. Check these out: MinistryJobs.com | OrangeJobBoard | YouthCartelJobBoard | YouthSpecialtiesJobBank
- OTHER CHURCHES – Talk with other churches in the area – do they know of someone? Sometimes, after a church has just hired someone, they have had two or three great candidates that weren’t a fit for them, but may be for you. Other times, if there is a really large church near you, contact their student ministry leader and see if they know of any candidates, volunteers in their own ministry who may be called to begin serving in a paid role.
- FORMER STUDENTS – Have any recently graduated students from your church sensed a call to ministry? Would one of them be a candidate?
- PUBLISH ON YOUR DENOMINATIONAL WEBSITE – Make sure to let your role be known on the denominational websites and publications.
- SOCIAL MEDIA – Share the information about this job on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.
- NETWORK WITH PASTORS – Talk with other pastors about ideas they may have for connecting with a youth worker. Do they know anyone?
- NETWORK WITH OTHER CHURCHES – Do they know anyone in their community who may be a fit for student ministry in your church?
- NETWORK WITH CONNECTED LEADERS – Contact someone who serves at an area camp or retreat center – they see and meet lots of local church student ministry groups. Talk with ministry professors at Christian colleges and universities. They also connect with lots of people. Talk with someone who does speaking for youth ministry events or runs a regional rec ministry or something of that nature.
- PRIVATE CONVERSATIONS – Think of the best possible person for the role at your church, pray through it, and then approach them personally. I recently heard the best candidates probably don’t even have a resume handy.
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE JOB
Have a job description ready – make sure it’s only one job and not 15 different roles. Too often, the job description seems like the church isn’t sure youth ministry will be enough. Just in case the person can’t find enough to do, they will also oversee this and that, assist in this and that, etc. It’s best to be pointed, defined and simple.
ORIENTATION – Develop a process for coming in – even if it’s simple. Have a defined start date. Have a defined starting event. Schedule a couple hospitality events to help the new person feel welcome. Introduce them in church. Put their picture in the paper, in the newsletter and on the website. Have a strategic series of regular, maybe even daily for the first week or two, meetings with the pastor and other key staff or leaders. Make sure they are equipped with proper tools – computer, laptop, keys, codes, office schedules, social media admin access, etc.
SET EXPECTATIONS – What gets measured gets done. If you want something to be accomplished, it has to be laid out beforehand. Examples of expectation might include: 1) how much time is to be spent in relational ministry, 2) how this will be charted and for how long, 3) when regular communication goes out to all students, families and church, etc. Expectations may also work the other way – what the youth worker can count on from the church.
SET TIMELINES – Have a probation period – it’s good for the church and the staff. If after 4 or 6 months things are clicking, then there’s an out. Other timelines may be for the long haul – after one year, our goal is to see this response / connection, after two years, etc.
GIVE THEM GUARDRAILS – All wise people appreciate guardrails and boundaries. Let these be known. Examples might include: two adults rule with students, communication with teens and leaders mostly during the day, etc. There has to be lots of freedom, but the freedom to lead and serve is within the guardrails that are set. This is needed for the church, the student ministry worker and the students.
DON’T RUSH – It’s better to not have a person than have the wrong person. Wait on God’s timing!