(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.)
At this point in a new ministry, you have started to settle in and should be feeling more comfortable. You will probably be in a routine. You will want to make sure your routine is a good one and you are not wasting time throughout the week. You should also be starting to build relationships with the students and the adults. And if you are not careful, you’ll forget that you are still only in your second month on the job.
This week I was able to do a couple things that I have been trying to accomplish. First, I was able to start meeting with one of the youth coaches. It was the first of an on-going series of meetings. We are going to try to meet once a week and talk about the youth ministry. Beyond that, he wanted to meet and talk about how he can be a better teacher. I am looking forward to the mentoring and training that is going to take place over lunch each week.
The second thing I was able to do was start planning for a “thank you” lunch for all of the teachers. This is something I have been wanting to do since I first got hired. I know that all of the teachers have been giving so much of their time and money to minister to the kids. Some have been doing it for years, others just started – but all are essential to an effective ministry. I know there is no way the youth ministry will reach the kids without the ministry of the adult volunteers. So I am excited about planning this lunch to show the volunteers that they are appreciated and important.
The last thing I am really excited about from this week was the changes I am starting to see in how the youth interact with me. This is a result of the relationships that are forming and the trust that is being built. They are starting to email/text/message me without my initiation. And not just me, but I am seeing a change in how they interact with my wife and kids (my kids are starting to feel comfortable around the teens, too). There is a lot of things I want to see happen in the lives of the students, but without a sense of trusting me they will not listen. (I am not trying to take the credit for something only God can do, just saying as a vehicle of that message I need to be trusted and respected.)
At this point, you should have a decent grasp on people’s names. If you are still struggling with names and faces, start studying the newest photo directory every day. People still do not expect you to get everyone’s name right, but they will be impressed when you do. If you are not already, you need to be intentional about this seemingly small aspect of your ministry.
Week 5 Bulletpoints:
– have time for people over projects
– start a list of changes you think need to be made (don’t share it with anyone, yet)
– find one change and start working toward it
– go to lunch with a youth coach or church leader
– listen to people without talking
Goals of the near future:
– encourage a teacher
– sit in on several different classes
– learn more about the church culture