People go to McDonald’s for the food not the logo
I get marketing your ministry and have used it myself. However, if you believe that a slicker logo, hipper name and better set of stage lights will lead to the altar being filled with repentant teenagers, you’re missing what youth ministry is all about- relationships and discipleship. Those things are an aide to your ministry, not the thing that is leading them to repent. You create a consumer youth group that will need to continually be fed newer, hipper and cooler things to keep being a part of your group. You can’t compete with Buzzfeed, MTV and Snapchat. Do your best loving kids first, marketing second…maybe third.
You most likely won’t be the next Doug Fields.
I am not saying this to squash your motivation to be the best you can be. However, God gives special callings and levels of capacity to only a few. If your obsession is to work up to be a conference speaker or author more than a youth pastor, you need to refocus why you are doing this.
Students need an adult who can have fun not a child who can act mature.
I have been guilty of and have seen many youth pastors act like children as though youth ministry is an excuse for an extended adolescent period. Understand that I am not saying don’t have fun with students. I am saying, make sure you are a mature adult who can step into that character for a short period rather than being an immature adult who has to strain to act grown up. Give your students something to look up to, not be embarrassed by.
Your worst lesson and event often is your best for you and for someone
Many times, the worst event I had that I was for sure was a dumpster fire and many of the lessons I thought were a total waste of student’s times were the ones people remembered and God used in their lives. It is a humbling reminder that it isn’t about us or our plans, but the Lord’s.
You can never over communicate for those parents who never listen
When I started youth ministry, you mailed letters, put inserts in bulletins and posted things. Now there is a plethora of social media, texting, email, webpages and all the previous things I mentioned. And yet, with all of these, you will still have that parent that either complains that you didn’t communicate an event or calls you 30 minutes before to ask when it is. Don’t beat yourself up. In fact, I would encourage you to only use a few of the options out there and stick to them for years. Realize that some parents are really busy and didn’t see it or just don’t have as high a value on the information as we do.
That super annoying ADHD middle school boy just may be the strongest leader you have in high school
I have seen this time and time again. The kid that I often dreaded having to deal with grew up to be an incredible leader in my student ministry and beyond. I have had hyperactive kids that grew into driven focused adults. I have had pudgy 6th grade kids who were obsessed with rice grow to become to captain of their football team. Don’t just toss them aside- they may be the greatest high school and adult people you work with.
Don’t just take the first church that shows interest in you- go with the right one.
This is tough because in ministry, we cannot always hold out for the right one. However, some youth pastors have jumped at the first one to show interest in them and ended up regretting it. If we wouldn’t recommend our students to date the first person who shows interest in you without checking them out, why would we do this with a church decision?
Be careful that the reason you are in youth ministry is not to relive your teenage years.
One should test their motivation for going into youth ministry. There have been individuals who were very popular in high school who see doing youth ministry as an opportunity to relive the glory days with teenagers. There are others who were bullied, teased or had bad experiences in their teenage years who want a chance to redo them and achieve what they were not good at back then. Your motivation must be rooted in a love for God and a love for guiding and leading teenagers.