Every church wants it. It’s the vibrancy that comes from the next generation. That’s why churches higher youth ministers. They want to see the next generation participating in the church. The problem is not knowing how to get them involved and invested.
There is no magic wand to increase teen participation in your church. What needs to take place is a paradigm shift. Instead of approaching youth ministry with the idea:
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:
It’s crunch time for our student ministry. Time is shrinking and the pressure is mounting. People are getting frantic and questions are filled with emotion. Getting ready for the beginning of the year is exhausting.
When pressure mounts it’s easy to lose our heads. What was once clear is no longer. How a youth minister handles pressure impacts their leadership. While the temptation is to stay in bed in the morning, you need to:
GO OUT AND LEAN INTO THE PRESSURE
That means preparing yourself for the spiritual, emotional, and physical battle that youth ministry sometimes brings. To tackle the pressure and come out on top you need to make sure you:
It felt more like a band practice than a night of worship. No one was showing up to our student ministry. We had 4 teens in the student band, 1 running our tech and then each week there would be a visiting teen who would never return. It felt demoralizing.
Attendance is one of the most frustrating parts of youth ministry. When no one shows up we can feel like a failure. When the RSVP’s for an event are low we consider canceling. When no one is coming it’s easy to consider a different career. Instead of growing helpless, start taking action by:
It happened like it’s happened many times before. After Mass a parent comes up to me to say, “I have been trying to reach you.” It’s a moment of desperation, panic or emergency in a parent’s life. They need you to assist them. The question is HOW?
As a youth minister families will come to you in time of need. Even if you are not a parent they’ll want to know how to:
- Talk to their teen about sex?
- Get them to focus on their schoolwork?
- Get them more involved in the church?
- Discipline them when they are in trouble?
The list goes on and on. It can be overwhelming to assist a family or parent in need. To get through the messiness and be there for a family make sure you: