I had no clue what I was doing. On my first day of youth ministry I remember just sitting at my desk trying to figure out which tasks to tackle first. Eventually I figured it out. But, that was after a lot of mistakes, failure and heart break.
Starting out in youth ministry can be daunting. You are either thrown into a plethora of programs or you need to start from scratch. So many tasks to tackle and many places to start. If you are not careful you can find yourself overcommitted, overworked and headed towards burnout.
If you are just starting out or looking to start over it’s essential to set a solid foundation. That means tackling certain tasks right away. Such as:
FINDING A COACH
The quickest way you are going to improve your craft and calling is by having someone help you. A coach will give you exercises and insight that will help you grow in your profession. They’ll show you:
- Where you need to lead.
- How to understand and engage conflict.
- What tasks to tackle first.
A coach will be there to make sure you hit your goals and reach your vision. (For more check out terracecrawford.com)
CONNECTING TO A NETWORK
While you need individual attention you also need community. It’s easy to become isolated in youth ministry. If you are part of a denomination work with them to find a network. Attend conferences that are based on networking.
If no one has invited you, create your own. Reach out to 3-5 local churches in your area and just grab lunch with fellow youth ministers. You do not need an agenda. Just get to know them, trust them and lean on them when ministry gets challenging.
SETTING YOUR SCHEDULE
Youth ministry starts off like a sprint. You’ll find yourself knee deep in commitments and obligations within the first year. Instead of jumping right in, create a schedule to protect your time.
Schedule in off days, starting and ending times. Make sure you write down when you have important meetings. Build in time to:
- Create Projects.
- Produce Programs
- Connect With Volunteers
- Perform Certain Tasks
If your schedule is clear you’ll be able to know what tasks you have to do, need to do and want to do.
CREATING GOALS AND A VISION
Start out by observing and planning. Set a vision of what you would like to see in 3, 5 and 10 years. Dream big and set the goals and tasks to get there. Share those goals with your coach and peers. Ask them to hold you accountable.
When you set goals and a vision you give your ministry purpose. It will give you a direction. Every time ministry gets messy your goals and vision will get you back on the right path.
JOURNALING YOUR EXPERIENCE
In your first year embrace the habit of journaling so that you can go back to what you have learned. Journaling will help you release any worries, anger or concerns over to God. Just grab a notebook and pen and give yourself a few minutes each day. It might feel funny at first, but it will help you in those times when you can only rely on God.
If you tackle these tasks in your first few years of youth ministry they’ll help you go far. They will give you support, build confidence and provide clarity. If you have been serving for years and have yet to do these things get on it. It will wipe away the burnout and give your calling new life.
Which of these tasks have you tackled? What advice would you give others on how to get started in that area? Please comment.