When it comes to youth ministry, there is a never-ending wealth of ideas and thoughts. Regardless to how large or small your youth ministry is, where it’s located and the size of your budget, there are four practical things you should be doing.
1. Actively Recruit Leaders
One thing you can never have too much of in youth ministry is strong leaders. Every youth ministry should be consistently looking to recruit volunteers.
When I hear youth workers tell me that they have enough leaders, my first thought is maybe they aren’t doing enough. In almost all cases, youth pastors should always be on the hunt for adults who can invest in the lives of students. As one of my mentors, Rev. Matthew L. Watley, says, “Many hands make for light work.” The more leaders you have, the more you can do and the more of an impact you can have on the church and the surrounding community. How are you actively looking for leaders?
2. Train Leaders Well and Consistently
Some youth ministries do a great job of bringing new leaders into the ministry, but then once they have their first training (if they receive a first training at all), that is it.
This should not be the case. Think about it when you start a new job: You receive initial training in your area, but there are also regular trainings available for you to grow and develop as an employee. While I understand that time is limited and that your leaders are not employees, you still want them to do well in their role for the ministry and church. Furthermore, the best way for them to do well is for them to have strong and consistent training in different areas so they can grow as leaders—and as they grow, so will your youth ministry. How are you providing regular training opportunities for your leaders?
3. Promote Parent Involvement
If your youth ministry does not purposely engage parents, you are missing an opportunity to serve the families in your ministry.
Parents are the ultimate teachers and leaders of your students. They spend the most amount of time with our students and have the most invested in them. To leave them out of your discipleship strategy for students is borderline reckless. As youth ministry leaders, we should be constantly looking for opportunities to engage and involve parents in the ministry process—from having their input (once a month or once a quarter) on how things are going in the youth ministry, to designing roles for them to serve in the ministry. (I would suggest not putting parents in direct contact with their students in order to give their students space.) How are you engaging and involving parents in your ministry efforts?
4. Show Love to Students
You might be thinking, “Well, duh. This is why I got into youth ministry in the first place.” But some youth ministries I have seen only tolerate students; they don’t love them.
Our students should be loved from the moment they walk in the door to the moment they leave. They should feel loved when go see them at their school, their games, their performances or anywhere else. Regardless of what they have done, how they look, and what they say, God loves us without question and we should love them without question. How do you show love to your students?
Russell St. Bernard (@PastorRuss09) is the youth minister at Reid Temple AME Church’s north campus in Glenn Dale, Maryland, and the founder of After the Music Stops, a full-service youth ministry resource company dedicated to assisting leaders and parents as they serve their students.