I am glad to hear that; we need people to continue to answer the Lord’s call to youth ministry. Maybe you are an almost-ready-to-graduate college student who wants to “take the world for Christ, or at least this city” or someone who is ready to switch careers. Here are two important things to consider if you want to be a youth minister.
What is Your Motive?
There are a lot of reasons one might apply to be a youth minister, but not all reasons are the right ones. Here are some options:
- I just need a job. Really, I have a lot debt and this will probably pay more than working fast food.
- I have worked with young people at some point in my lifetime, and I think it sounds fun.
- I had a good youth minister; I feel obligated to apply because other people deserve a good youth minister. I’ve got to be at least half as cool as my youth minister was.
- I believe the Lord has called me to lead youth to Christ.
What’s the correct answer? I hope you picked number 4. While the other answers may have a slight bit of merit, it is important that you believe the Lord has called you to youth ministry. It shows in interviews whether you just need a job and are taking shots in the dark or if you truly believe the Lord has called you to this ministry. Yes, it is a job, but doing quality youth ministry is hard work and more than likely, you will need to rely on and remember God’s call on your life to get you through the tough times.
Of course it’s great that you had a good youth minister yourself and that you like young people, but check your motive. Those two don’t have enough depth. (There are also unhealthy motives that I won’t explore.) No matter where you interview, you can expect that one of the questions will be something like, “why do you want to be a youth minister?” A slick practiced answer will lose to an authentic sharing of God’s call on your life. (And if it doesn’t, you didn’t want to work there.)
What Experience Do You Bring?
Every candidate for youth ministry should be able to share about youth ministry from experience—this does not include the experience of being in high school or your own high school youth group. Whether you are a college student getting a degree in youth ministry or someone whom God has called to a new ministry, it is important that you have experience from which to draw.
A degree is great, but experience is critical. You don’t need to be the paid youth minister elsewhere, but you should have been working with teens in some ministry capacity.
The good news is that this is one field in which it is really easy to get experience. I can’t think of one youth minister who has too many volunteers. Join a Core Team; be a confirmation sponsor; run a small group; lead a Bible study. Parishes can always use a few more volunteers.
Too many people apply for youth ministry jobs with no experience on their resume. This makes me wonder things like: If God has placed this on your heart, why haven’t you answered it? Do you actually like teens or do you only have a general idea that you do? Do you know that you can handle working with teens week in and week out?
Sure, there may be cases where circumstances prevent you from helping with youth ministry, but volunteering is a win-win for you. It will help with your discernment of God’s call. It will be a great learning experience — from how to lead small groups and give talks, to seeing different styles of leadership from youth ministers, etc. Finally, it will help you answer interview questions about youth ministry with concrete examples.
Certainly, there is a lot more that goes into the interview and hiring process, but you are ahead of the competition if you can cover these two areas.
To see current job openings check out catholicyouthministry.com/jobs.
For more helpful tips check out So You Want to be a Youth Minister, Part 2