Youth Ministry is probably the best job ever. We get to play video games all day, leave the office at 2PM after taking a 2 hour lunch, and we almost never have to buy our own food on the weekends because we can just order pizza with the Church credit card. We only have to do real work on Sundays – even then, it’s pretty easy!
That’s what a lot of people think youth ministry is. As awesome as that sounds, it’s not an accurate description of youth ministry. Believe it or not, youth ministry is more than games, pizza, and glorified babysitting. Here are a few things I wish every parent knew about youth ministry:
1) Youth ministry is a lot of work. We almost always work 5 days a week. We’re on call 24/7. There is a ton of work that goes into making an event, small groups, youth group, and mission trips happen. As much as it may seem like we only work on Sundays, that is far from the truth.
2) Your expectations of your youth worker are probably too high. Most youth workers quit their jobs after a couple of years because they cannot meet the unrealistic expectations of parents and Church staff. Do you want our youth group to triple in one year? So do I! Is this a realistic goal? Probably not. Make sure that you’re setting realistic goals in your mind for your Church’s youth ministry and its staff.
3) We really do plan intentionally. I know sometimes it seems like we’re doing a Super Bowl party, lock-in, or ski trip just for fun, but we have planned every single event intentionally. We do parties and lock-ins so our youth can experience genuine Christian fellowship and we often use them as a chance to do service in our community. We do our ski-trips because we get some of our best worship times during these trips. Everything we do has a Biblical purpose behind it (except maybe our hot-dog eating contest…that’s just for fun)!
What are some things that you think every parent should know about youth ministry?
I love that a lot of us are being encouraged to make students a priority over administration, design, planning, etc. in 2013. This is awesome! Here are a few things you can do to make sure you see your students more this year:
1) Invite them over for dinner. This one is great – call the family and invite them over for dinner. The best part? 9/10 times they will invite you over instead! Free food and a lot of quality time with students.
2) Go to as many of their events as possible. Keep track of sports and extra-curriculars and go see your youth perform! This one seems like a given, but it’s easy to forget unless it’s a student on the varsity football/basketball team. Make sure you’re checking out the drama club and chess club, too.
3) Pull random all-nighters. Is your wife/husband out of town? Need something to do? Grab a few guys for a random all-nighter! Make sure you get another adult chaperone, a case of monsters, and a 5 lb bag of gummy bears. Then plug in your X Box and you’re ready to go! My students LOVE when I do this!
4) Get snapchat. This is a great app that lets you send silly pictures back and forth with your youth. Snapchat is notoriously connected with “Sexting”, so be careful that you’re not sending anything stupid (I know it would be funny to send that dude in your small group of picture of you mooning him, but it’s not the best idea). This is a great way to “see” your students when you can’t hang out with them and it enforces that this app can be used for fun – not just sexting.
5) Hang out with them at your programs. This one seems glaringly obvious but is often the most overlooked on the list. Sometimes we’ll be so busy with the program itself that we forget to hang out with our students. Make sure that you try to connect with as many students as you can when they come to your event!
What are some ways that you make sure you see more of your students every week?
Sunday night was my first real affirmation that I’ve been doing Youth Ministry the right way (or at least well enough!) One of my students approached me a couple of weeks ago and asked if he could host a night of prayer and fasting after youth group. This dude is a hardcore disciple, so I expected this from him – he’s a huge leader. This is number one…
1) You see students stepping up into leadership roles without prodding.
Now this night of prayer/fasting took place this past Sunday…I admit – I didn’t expect a large amount of people to show up. We have a 6th-12th grade youth group (the majority of which are middle schoolers), so a lot of them are still getting to know God for the first time. A lot of them come for the games and fellowship at this point more than God – or so I thought.
2) People show up – not only for the games and fellowship – but for God. About 75% of the youth group stayed after youth for the night of prayer and fasting. They showed up knowing there were no games. They showed up solely for God.
Now this last part is my favorite. I had my guitar out and I was leading the youth in some worship. The student leader, after a song, asked me to keep playing. While I was playing “mood music” he wanted everyone to pair up with someone they would usually not feel comfortable with and pray together.
3) People prayed for each other. No regards for cliques, popularity, crushes, etc…just prayer. At the end, they prayed for me. I didn’t ask – I just got prayed over. And it was awesome.
Now I’m not saying I’m the best youth minister in the world or anything like that – don’t worry. I am just sharing this because it’s pretty awesome that I’m seeing the fruits of God’s ministry on a large scale. It’s exciting to get that little extra motivational push to keep me excited about ministry.