4 Things Every Youth Pastor Must Do Before the New Year

“As you wrap up another year, I hope you are encouraged by what God has done and challenged by what he’s shown you.”

As you wrap up another year of ministry, I hope you are encouraged by what God has done and challenged by what he’s shown you—and hopeful for what is possible.

As we head into 2017, there are four things that all youth pastors MUST do if we want next year to be even better than this year.

1. You must thank your team.

I often ask ministry leaders, “When was the last time you told your leaders ‘thank you’ and/or made sure that you did something special for them?” Far too often, I receive a blank stare in return. As you end the year, it is vital that you thank your leaders and let them know you are appreciative of their service to Christ. Make sure each of your leaders knows that he or she is serving God through the youth ministry.

2. You must be honest about what didn’t go well.

If you want your youth ministry to grow, you can’t just celebrate the ministries and programs that succeeded—you also have to evaluate the ministries and programs that aren’t going so well. Far too many youth pastors are not completely honest about the aspects of their ministry that are “failing.” By “failing,” I mean those programs that aren’t seeing an increase in student involvement and/or aren’t moving students closer to a strong relationship with Christ. The only way to improve these ministries and programs in the new year is to be honest about where they fell short and what needs to change. Don’t allow a fear of the hard questions keep your ministry in the same place for another year.

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3. You must set goals for the coming year.

You have heard the saying, “If you aim for nothing, you will hit it every time.” If you do not set goals or define what success looks like, you’ll continue to miss the target. I encourage you to pray and think through what success will look like for each ministry and program in 2017. After you set these goals, share them with your leaders and make sure you write them down where you’ll be able to go back to them consistently during the next year.

4. You must be thankful.

Each day that you have to serve students and see them get closer to Christ is a blessing. As you leave this year and enter into the next, be thankful to God for the opportunity to serve teenagers and their families—and thank him in advance for what he’s going to do through your ministry next year.

How are you going to begin the new year strong?

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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.