This is the time of year in Maryland when the rubber meets the road in ministry. Life Nights and Edge Nights are in full swing and Confirmation preparation is beginning. You have service projects to worry about, fun trips to collect permission slips for and voicemails you haven’t returned in a week.
For me this time of year is quite stressful and it can be quite tempting to switch into a “maintenance” mode for your ministry of just getting events done instead of focusing on your ministry being “missionary” and truly calling your teens, your Core Members and your parents into a deeper relationship with Christ.
As youth ministers we have a common weakness: we think that the more we do, the more teens we reach and the closer we lead them to Christ.
There are two problems with this logic: busyness doesn’t automatically transform people into disciples and busyness will burn you and your Core team out. Hate to break it to you, but you’re not a superhero.
Give yourself permission to spend five minutes to just drop everything and ask yourself: where are my teens right now in their faith and where do I want to lead them? Once you answer that question, strive to meet it by ensuring that your teens have a truly exceptional experience every time they walk in the door by evaluating the following:
1. Your Events
Do you really need to be doing everything you’re doing? The world won’t end if you cancel that trip to the corn maze or the midweek Bible study that three teens attend. A clutter of random events can create confusion and stress as to what the point of your ministry is.
2. Your Outreach Efforts
A lot of the time I’m so busy prepping for an event that I forget a basic truth of youth ministry: I didn’t get into ministry to plan events but to mentor teenagers. Do you have a plan for outreach? Does your Core team understand this plan? And do they do it? We can spend a lot of time and money trying a bunch of different things to help teens have a personal experience with Christ. But, having a personal experience starts with just that: a personal experience. Spend your time and money getting this right and you’ll find the events will make a lasting impact because they’ll forget that awesome talk you gave and the funny ice breaker. But, they will remember a Core Member who deeply cared about them.
3. Your Leadership Abilities
Youth Ministry isn’t a one-man show, but don’t we act like it sometimes? As youth ministers I think we all have a tendency to buy into the lie that unless we have our hands in everything in someway then we’re not doing our job. You are human and you can only do so much. Do not be afraid to ask for help. What can you give to your Core team to take off your plate? Can you ask a few parent volunteers to come in and help you do some cleaning and organizing? Can your parish secretary help you in some ways? The better organized and focused you are, the better focused your events and Core team will become. And the better those become, the closer your teens will get to Christ.
4. Your ability to say no
Just because someone makes a suggestion to you or you have an idea does not mean you need to do it. Don’t be afraid to say no to things that distract from your ultimate goal.
So, take a deep breath, grab a pen and a cup of coffee and write down three challenges to yourself for how you can grow in ministry and follow up with yourself in a month and see how you’re doing. What three challenges did you write?