What I’ve Learned The Last 10 Years

10 years ago today I walked into Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Maryland as the Middle School Youth Minister.  Today I’m still at the same church and I oversee all youth ministry programs.  I feel blessed to have last this long, but it hasn’t always been easy.

To last in youth ministry is not easy.  To last the long haul you need the right systems and strategies.  You need the right leadership and vision.  While there are dozens of the things that I’ve learned the last 10 years there are 6 that stick out.  I learned:

YOU NEED TO WORK ON THE RELATIONSHIP YOU HAVE WITH YOUR PASTOR

After God and your spouse the relationship you have with your pastor is number one.  If you do not have trust you won’t be able to go far.  To work on that relationship you need to learn how to:

  • Honor His Authority
  • Trust His Leadership
  • Serve And Love Him

It’s easier said than done, but it’s worth it.  When the relationship is healthy he’ll not only trust you, but invest in you.  When a pastor invests in his staff you are more likely to stick around.

SUCCESS WON’T COME AS QUICKLY AS YOU WANT IT TO

This is true almost anywhere.  I thought success would come after 6 months, then 2 years, and then 5.  The truth is I was succeeding, but was impatient with the results.  

You need to set small goals with big vision.  Ask God for patience and each day work towards the goals.  And when you fail, remind yourself it’s a part of the process.

YOUR MINISTRY IS PRIMARILY TO ADULTS WHO MINISTER TO TEENAGERS

I love teenagers; however, my ministry is nothing without the adults who serve alongside of me.  If you want your ministry to grow you need to change the focus from the teens onto the adults who serve next to you.  Allow them to extend your reach.  Utilize the gifts and talents they have.  

When you can pour into them, they’ll pour into the teens.  Over the last 10 years I’ve had some wonderful men and women show me what it means to serve the Lord and grow disciples.

YOU MUST WIN OVER PARENTS

If you don’t have the trust of the parents then teens won’t come.  Do not look at parents as adversaries, see them as allies.  Love them, invest in them and equip them for success.  As I’ve grown into a parent myself I’ve learned that raising kids is so hard.  

Win over parents by affirming them.  Let them know when they are succeeding and offer them an ear when they need to vent.  When they see that you are there you’ll truly win them over.

WORKING WEEKENDS ARE PRICELESS

The best time to recruit, interact with teens and their families is on Sunday.  Not only is it a great time to build a presence, but you show the rest of your staff support.  Make your ministry stronger by investing time and energy into the rest of the church.

IF YOU AREN’T GROWING AS A DISCIPLE NEITHER WILL THE TEENS

You cannot do ministry on an empty tank.  Schedule yourself a sabbath and find time alone with God.  Find ways to challenge yourself to grow as a disciple.  Partner up with people to hold you accountable and be with God.  It’s his grace that will carry you through to the end.

Again, I’m thankful for what I’ve learned.  I’m thankful for all the years of blessings and hardships.  I owe a lot to everyone (Especially my wife) for walking with me in the last ten years.  My hope is that many of you who are in the trenches lean in and let God lead you.  Take it from me, it’s worth it.

Question: What have you learned in your years of youth ministry?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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