Youth Ministry Is More Than Your Title

March 31st, 2014

Our title may say “Minister to Students” or “Director of Youth Ministries,” but as the person responsible for youth ministry in a local church we can’t limit ourselves to the title.

I was reminded of this recently when I began teaching a Disciple Bible Study class on Wednesday mornings at my church. How nice to have adult conversation! I decided I had been neglectful of myself but most importantly, neglectful of my Sunday school teachers and Sunday night youth volunteers. There is so much more to “youth” ministry than just!

Here are a few examples:

  1. We are responsible for the faith development of our youth, we also bear some responsibility in the faith development of our youth workers. We all need adult conversation and opportunities to learn and grow in an appropriate environment. There is a reason there is traditionally an adult Sunday school program in United Methodist Churches – so adults can learn about living their Christian faith in the world. If we don’t allow our teachers and leaders the opportunity to learn, how will they ever be able to teach? I know it is sometimes hard to find teachers, and once we get them it’s hard to let them go. BUT, let’s also find a way to give them a break sometime so that they may return to their own class for a little “breathing in” rather than just “breathing out”.
  2. Many youth workers now have titles such as Minister to youth and their families. This is a great reminder to us all that we have a responsibility to the parents and family of our youth. We cannot be successful as youth workers if we do not have good relationships with their parents. After all, they pay our salaries and serve on church committees ( just sayin…) Communication with parents is vital to our survival. We are mistaken if we think that teenagers will actually tell their parents about announcements made verbally. It is easier now to communicate than ever before, but we have to be aware of the generational differences and expectations and communicate in different ways. A written newsletter may be time consuming, but will hang on the refrigerator and take the stress away from a busy parent. Then the faster e-mail updates and social media can be used as follow up. We should never expect everyone to see everything by using just one source of communication.
  3. Professionalism should be displayed in all areas of our ministry. It is also important to “know our stuff”. Of course, we can talk circles around teenagers and our youth program. But, can we make and keep up with a budget? Can we discuss building and maintenance issues with our trustees committee or important personal issues with the Staff Parish Committee? These committees can be our friends if we will let them, but often we treat them as our enemy. The people in our congregations that have agreed to serve the church in this way deserve our respect and can help us if we present ourselves to them in a professional way.

Youth ministry may be a calling for us, but that call doesn’t stop with the teenagers we work with. In order to be an advocate for the students in our congregation we must present ourselves to the leaders of the church in a way that they will take us seriously and then in turn take the youth ministry seriously as well.

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