The average length in post in youth ministry is painfully short (estimates of around 2 years being the average). This is heartbreaking as these are people who have sacrificed the opportunities of secular occupations to commit full time to building God’s Church and seeing his kingdom grow. I believe the next generation will never properly be reached until we address this leak in our churches. The current Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, once described youth ministers as the Church’s secret weapon. For this weapon to be effective we need to invest and develop each leader.
Here are ten ways a church can do this:
1. Have a clear job description and budget
Without either, the youth minister will struggle to know when church expectations are met, and can find it hard to know what their role exactly is. Budget is essential in planning for the year ahead.
2. Develop vision
A vital role of an effective youth minister is to develop vision for the youth ministry. This isn’t done in isolation, rather by gathering key people in the church together to seek God’s direction and to develop strategies for growth.
3. Equipping the church
The youth minister is a missionary to young people and has expertise that is probably lacking amongst most people in the church. The role must not be to do the missional work on behalf of the church but to enable, train and equip the church better to reach out, as a body, to this generation.
4. Advocate and church leadership
The role requires the youth minister to ‘fight the young people’s corner’ in wider church discussions and issues. The youth minister is part of the overall church leadership and the church will flourish if they are included in discussions which don’t directly affect young people. Often the youth minister will see things differently and be able to raise issues which would take young people’s opinions and feelings into account. Being part of the church leadership helps the young people feel more a part of the overall body of Christ and therefore more valued.
If the youth minister is to grow, it is essential there is suitable and sufficient support in place. This should include prayer support, youth leaders, peer support, line management, annual review and some kind of mentor. A church who wants their youth minister to thrive would also be wise to offer support to any family the minister might have: a happy family makes a fruitful youth minister.
6. Sabbath rest
Part of the support for the youth minister should ensure that they get at least one day off per week, preferably two, and can properly rest from business and busyness. As a role model, this is important, but it is essential for longevity in the role.
The wise youth minister will take time out regularly to realign with God’s priorities, both personally and ministerially. A loving church will fund these times and encourage and pray for them.
8. Training and room to grow
A thriving youth minister is a growing leader so access to resources, books and appropriate-level conferences are very important. This, combined with retreats, will help maintain motivation, purpose and passion.
9. Being themselves
A youth minister will be fulfilled when they are able, and encouraged, to use their strengths, talents and spiritual gifts to the full.
10. Face to face ministry
The call to youth ministry is fundamentally down to having a heart to see young people come to faith in Jesus. A thriving youth minister must have sufficient contact time with this generation to fulfill this calling.
If you are a youth minister, you might like to send this blog post to your church leader ready to discuss together at your next line management meeting. if you know someone who is a youth minister, why not pick one area and ask them how they are doing in it? They will love the fact that you show interest in them and their development.
Which tip is the hardest for you to fulfil? Why? What tips could you add to the list? Please leave a comment below.