Couple days ago I got together with a few of my good friends in youth ministry and were talking about when we first got into it and how little we knew. I admit, I still know very little but I’m in progress. It got me thinking about if there is anyone you know, on staff or volunteer, just jumping into ministry, what would be good to know. So I thought of 5 quick tid bits of advice for anyone new and diving in to ministering to teenagers.
The 5 things you need to know to start in youth ministry well:
Be all in– Go all in. Get involved. Break the awkwardness of you being one of the only adults in the room. You know, the students know it, just jump in and break that awkward wall down. Greet them, get involved in the games, the worship, the message. They are watching you whether they know you or not and will determine if you are the real deal or not within two seconds. Is it going to be weird? Probably at first, but once they see you go all in, they will be right behind you.
Be real- Students are the best B.S. detectors I know. They can easily sniff out someone who is not genuine from the start. Don’t try to be the “cool” person because they are not interested. What I have found in doing ministry is that student respond best to any adult leader when they are open, honest, and real. You will not have every kid there liking you, but there is at least one kid that needs to hear your story and how you handled it that will help shape their spiritual life. Students will come to you once they know you are a “real” person.
Be consistent– Nothing kills a student more than opening up to a leader and then that leader just all of the sudden stops showing up for no reason. It will make that student not open up to another leader because they think that they will just stop coming. Sometimes being there is all they need. They see you every single week, being involved, being real, and it makes a difference. There is no way anyone can effectively minister to a student if they are not there constantly pouring into them. Be there and be there regularly.
Be caring– People are broken. Obviously. Students are broken with huge emotions and need some guidance in areas of their life in which they will come to you for advice. Even if the “problem” does not seem like a big deal, to them at that time it is a huge deal, so showing compassion and that you care means everything to them. Sometimes just being there is enough for them to show that you care for them. Be genuine in how you are for them. Take a second and pray for them, right then and there. It shows that you care for them.
Have fun– Plain and simple. Youth ministry is so much fun, it can be very tiring, but it is so fun. If you don’t think so, then you probably should go to another ministry. Students love to have fun and they want leaders to have fun with. I love my students and we can be serious and talk life, but we can also be stupid and just laugh our faces off at stupid things. It’s okay, I promise.
If anyone new to youth ministry were to take these to heart and be all in with these items, they will do some amazing things in the lives of students for the Kingdom.