Greetings in the Name of Christ Jesus! I am so glad to be writing all of you today and I hope you all are doing well in youth ministry wherever you are. It’s another year for all of us in ministry wherever we are and wherever we find ourselves. There are always people somewhere in the world that are starting new ministries whether that be at a new church or at the same church with a new vision. These are very exciting times to experience and yet these times are very important as well. So, today I wanted to speak with you all about 7 Ways to Start Well.
When interviewing for a position or receiving a new position it’s always important to be at your best. Dress well for your interviews and keep dressing well as you are getting acclimated in the ministry that you are leading. Youth Ministers should never be known for the laid-back dresser. Be known for the youth minister that shows up in presence and in dress. It really communicates to the pastor(s) that you take this position seriously and you are humbled and honored by the faith they are putting in you. This is important. Very Important.
Listen to your Youth
Look I know you are awesome. You’re not too awesome to not listen to your pastors, volunteers, co-workers, and more importantly to listen to your youth, and if you are you need to get out of youth ministry. The most important concept in ministry overall and especially youth is listening. Youth need to be heard. You need to listen to where they have been, where they are, and where they want to go. Now, once you do this the tendency is to go do it, but just listen. The communicates to them that they are important, because they are! This is not your ministry, it’s the youth ministry. So in order to organize, facilitate and when necessary lead you need to hear where they are coming from.
Just like listening this one is vitally important. You need to observe everything that is being doing in the youth ministry in your local church context. If there are events, service projects, programs of any kind already planned let them go as planned. Don’t change anything. Unless you absolutely have to. For the first six months to a year you should be making a huge effort to really get to know your youth and finding out what they love, what they don’t love, but ultimately what they are passionate about.
In Youth Ministry there is a tendency to once you start to begin to look at what toys you don’t have in the youth ministry. Many a youth minister have said all they needed was new tv’s, new couches, new anything. When you first begin a youth ministry position you have no idea what this ministry needs, so no new things should be bought in the first year, unless you can’t avoid it. Make an inventory of all that you have in your youth ministry right now, then make a list of things with youth and adult buy in of what you need (they may not know what you need, but they will have a better idea of what you have had). As you observe and listen to your youth you will begin to understand some things that you need.
Here’s the deal about ministry though. Along the way we have learned that make a ministry excellent we need to buy bright and shiny new things. Let me be perfectly clear. Youth ministry is not a flat screen tv, or an apple tv, or even new couches. The most vital thing for youth ministry is active relationship building. A youth minister that builds real authentic relationships first is a youth minister that will go a long way in a ministry. That is youth ministry. More importantly that is what youth want and what they need. So before you do anything, ASK.
Listen to your Parents and Volunteers
Your parents and your volunteers are vital parts of the ministry with youth that you are blessed to lead. Just like with your youth you need to take time to get to know your youth parents and volunteers. Listen to where they have been, where they are, and where they want to be. They want to be heard too and more importantly they want to help they just don’t how sometimes. Building relationships with parents and volunteers in key here. Listen to them and begin to learn where their heart is and what they are passionate about.
When you first move into the church office I would advise you taking a day to two days max getting your office set up. After you have done that spend as much time outside of your office as possible. Get to know a new person everyday. Ask for a listing of the youth parents, volunteers, and youth themselves and begin hanging out with your youth community. Meet at coffee shops, frozen yogurt places, or at parks. Spend some active time being present with these people. This is key.
Listen Again. Yes Again. Getting the point?
Ever wonder why you have two ears and one mouth? God doesn’t make accidents, he is very intentional with all of creation. Truth is we are most effective when we listen first, speak second, deeply because we all want to be heard, to be accepted, and ultimately to be loved. People are loved when they first meet someone when they listen. So, listen and find out where your fellow staff members have been, where they are, and yes where they want to go. This communicates that they are important to you, which they are!
As always my prayers are always with you and your ministry. If you have any prayer requests I would love to pray for you and help you in any way I can. We youth workers and disciples need to stick together in the love and grace of Christ. Please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can pray for you and help you in anyway I can.
Thanks for all you do for the Kingdom of God!
Grace and Peace,
Bradley W. Alexander
Director of Youth and Media Ministries
Arlington Heights United Methodist Church