I have a friend who is just about to Start his first Full Time Youth Ministry job in January, and has been asking me, along with everyone else he knows in ministry, for some practical advice for starting. I wanted to do my best to give him something he could really use and not just answers he could find on one of a million blogs already (though Im sure Im not the first to say these things. I don’t think I am that original, but I do think the following is over shadowed many times by the more generic answers like “Don’t go in their with the mindset of changing things” among others).
So I told him these 3 things to start with, and I really think these three things are crucial for someone just starting out;
1) Learn to Trust Your Pastor and do what you need to do to Earn his trust in return.
Do whatever you can to earn his trust, and I mean really earn it. For most coming out of College its easy to still be in that mindset. This is the most money you have ever made, for most, in your life, and your going to need to learn to be frugal with that. Your going to need to grow up and start thinking about the “Big Picture” of your ministry and how it fits into the church. Develop right away the mindset that the youth ministry isn’t the only ministry in the church, and show that to the people in your church. Get involved in other ministries and support the other ministry leaders.
2) When it comes to what to do in your office, read. Never stop learning, never stop studying.
You just finished up your degree in Youth Ministry. Fantastic. Let me know how that goes for you your first day in the office as “The Youth Pastor.” My first day I wanted to go home, curl up in a ball, and cry. It’s easy to think “I love God, I love kids, Youth Ministry will be a breeze” but now comes the fun part of administration. Try planning an event like a Lazer Tag all nighter and let me know how much easier that was because you “Love God and Love Students”( and no thats not a shot at Matt Mcgill and his site, love God Love Students ).
Instead, keep learning. Find other blogs (well get back to this in a moment), read books, do whatever you can to learn more and new fresh ideas about youth ministry, and things that will make you think about the way you do ministry. Never stop letting yourself be challenged by others words, never forget the fact that all you have done in ministry could be wrong. What you are doing today in Youth Ministry may be obsolete two years from now.
3) Start a blog.
It’s not about how many people read it, its about laying out whats going on in your life so you can learn from it. Putting your thoughts and feelings down and actually reading them will teach you more about yourself than you can imagine. Why blog as opposed to simply just journaling in a note book? Because blogging provides an arena for other youth pastors to come along side you and say “Hey, ive been there too, here’s what I have done or learned” and you can very easily build an online network of peers to do life with. Yeah it can be impersonal, but its better than waiting the typical 3 months between Network get togethers.