Recently I wrote a post for Aaron Helman over at Smarter Youth Ministry regarding lessons that I’ve learned throughout the tenure of my youth ministry career. It got me thinking about the importance of youth ministry mentoring. When I started out my predecessor (He’s still on staff) was able to guide me through the trenches. When it comes to youth ministry having a mentor is so important. It’s a:
- Reminder you aren’t alone.
- Resource to how to grow and succeed.
- Partner to pray with and encourage you in your calling.
If you are new in youth ministry and are desperate for advice, wisdom and support make sure you:
- Connect To A Network - If you are a part of a certain denomination chances are they have a network of youth pastors in place. You can connect to a network by attending conferences like the Simply Youth Ministry Conference or going to sites like the National Network of Youth Ministry. Lastly, don’t be afraid to reach out through blogs, chances are that youth minister will know someone or somewhere you can connect. It’ll be in these networks where you will meet veterans open to taking you under their wing.
- Have Open Ears - The easiest advice to give and the hardest to accept is how listening to others will help you grow. For someone who is new in youth ministry you need to be a sponge just absorbing all the lessons, and stories of the men and women who have walked before you. Even if they work in a different arena (Small church vs. big church) listen to where they’ve been, you would be surprise from what you will learn.
- Ask Plenty Of Questions - No question is dumb or silly, except for the one that is never asked. Even if you think you know the answer don’t be afraid to ask. If anything it’s flattering as a veteran to be asked, “How do you do this and that?” I love when new youth ministers ask me questions because it helps me examine why I do certain things. By asking questions you will not only learn but honor the person who is mentoring you.
- Observe Their Ministry – Be a sponge. While there are plenty of theories and models to learn from there is no better way to get a sense of a successful ministry than by sitting in on one. Ask permission of the veteran if you can sit in and observe, take a seat, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to get involved. It’ll cause you to look at your ministry in an entirely different light.
There is so much to learn about youth ministry and to think you’ve arrived is to naive. The importance of finding someone who will mentor you and take you under your wing is priceless. Don’t be afraid to lean on those who have battled before you. Listen to their advice, learn from their ways and allow them to be your youth ministry mentor.
Rookies: What’s your biggest question going into youth ministry?
Veterans: What do you wish you knew when you had started out?