I’ll be honest. I have youth ministry environment envy. Whenever I walk into another person’t youth space I think, “Man, why can’t I have that?” We share our space with a variety of groups. It’s been working, but I still dream of the day we have our own.
Fortunately you don’t need your own space to have an irresistible environment. Whether you share or are confined to the catacombs of your church your environments can have a positive impact on your ministry. To have the right environment you just need to:
If you are a leader you will feel lonely. That’s because the decisions, responsibilities and the burden fall on you first. The question you need to answer is, “How am I going to deal with the loneliness?”
No one tells you when you get into ministry that there will be periods where it feels like:
It was a difficult time. A year had gone by and the same 6 teens from the student band were the only ones coming every week to our student program. I felt like a failure. I remember sitting down with my pastor, waiting for him to say, “You’re done.” Instead he told me the biggest secret to growing a ministry:
A part of youth ministry is disappointment. Volunteers will quit when you are already short staffed. Teenager who are growing in faith will hit stumbling blocks. You’ll have parents no show after you’ve spent hours putting together a workshop for their benefit.
While you are allowed to be disappointed and angry, you also need realistic expectations. The goal in youth ministry is to CHALLENGE and ENCOURAGE. The problem is when we set people up to fail and discourage them instead.
To communicate and set realistic expectations you need to:
It breaks my heart when I learn about a former student that has walked away from the church. Questions of, “How did this happen?” and “What could I have done better?” race through my mind. It’s a fear many churches and youth ministers face. No one wants to see teens Graduate Their Faith when they Graduate High School.
While there is no magic bullet you can fight the trend by creating a system that grows disciples. That system begins with: