(Over the next few months, maybe longer, I will be writing weekly posts on my journey of starting a new youth ministry position. The focus will be on general tips and suggestions for any youth minister starting a new position, but I will add-in moments specific to my situation. My goal is to offer advice to help other youth ministers and not write an online journal of my own personal experiences. In order to make this series of articles as beneficial as I can, I would appreciate your feedback and thoughts. And remember as you read about my journey in a new youth ministry that every situation is different; therefore, these ideas are just ideas and suggestions. You need to know your church culture and adjust your week-by-week to fit those needs.)
Last week was about little things, this week was more about surprises.
This was the week I was glad I spent the first few weeks getting my office organized (well, mostly organized). You see, this week I needed to know where certain books were and find old information. I felt like I was really starting to settle into the ministry and spending a lot more time dreaming/planning/ministering during the week. This week was the first week that felt “normal” (if there is such a thing as a normal week for a youth minister) when I think of what I want to do each week. I still know that this is just the beginning and I have a long way to go before I get to where I want to be. To put it another way, this was the first week I did not feel completely new to this position and that surprised me.
Another interesting thing happened to me this week. Last week, I planned two lunch gatherings for the students. Both days went well and I knew I would do it again, maybe every other week. This week I did not plan any lunches, but on two different occasions I had a couple students ask when they were. I did not expect that question, but am glad I was asked. I was planning on continuing with an every other week schedule through the rest of the summer, but might switch to every week – only once a week, instead of twice. These lunches will be a good way to build relationships with the students in a very informal setting.
Another surprising part of the week was when I realized that some aspects of ministry never change. No, I’m not talking about the fact that students don’t change, they just change names. I’m not even talking about the job descriptions or responsibilities placed on a youth minister. I am talking about some of the tendencies and habits a youth minister acquires based on certain situations. Let’s say, for example, a youth worker is undermined and threatened early in his ministry and develops a tendency to be defensive when talking with those in leadership. You would think this behavior would stop when the youth worker is years removed from the incident and at a new location. I was reminded this week that it is not always that easy.
There is one last thing I would suggest you remember at this point in your ministry because it will help with the transition. I would suggest that you intentionally work with those who were planning and organizing the different aspects of the ministry before you arrived. As much as the person might want to just dump the responsibility into your lap, do not let them. Try to work with them and learn from what they were doing. You might just pick up a nugget of wisdom that was learned through mistakes, thus helping you avoid the same mistakes. Wisdom like: making sure you remind teachers it is there month when the first or second of the month lands on a Sunday.
Week 4 Bulletpoints:
– try to meet with the parents of those “exiting” your ministry
– find a small, positive change you can make & make it
– continue making initial contacts with parents
– be visible during the church services
Goals of the near future:
– develop a vision & goals that coincide with those of the entire church
– learn the passion/heart of the youth coaches
– encourage youth coaches
– learn more names
Previous weekly perspectives: week 1, week 2, week 3,