Building a youth ministry is not about me. It is not about anything I can accomplish. It is not about how many students I can attract or how many pizzas we can afford. It is answering God’s calling by using my surroundings to disciple students.
Many youth pastors use their ministry opportunity as a way to build their personal platform out of their own ability. God has called us to build disciples through His strength. I am not saying this is wrong, but what purpose is it serving? Are we living out God’s calling or our own agenda?
What does it look like to successfully build a youth ministry?
1. Get to know your direct surroundings. What is the culture of your church and geographical location? Get to know your students, parents, and leaders before you ever publish a ministry vision or calendar. Take them out for breakfast, attend their sporting events, and make yourself available. Without the support of families, you will struggle to see true success! I used to think I could grow a youth ministry without partnering with parents. I quickly realized, the more support I have from families, the more growth our ministry will experience!
Before you present what you think will work, ask others what they would like to see happen. The ministry you are leading is not your youth ministry; it is your students’ youth ministry. What goals do they want to accomplish? What events do they want to do? Never promise anything, but get input from everybody. Create time to get to know your immediate surroundings – showing support for the students, parents, and leaders within your ministry!
2. Get to know your extended surroundings. What schools do your students attend? What churches are around you? Instead of trying to create your own Christian club in every local school, connect with what is already working. Whether it is FCA, Youth for Christ, Young Life, or First Priority – get to know the organizations involved in your local schools. Make yourself available and useful to the leaders God already has in place. Connecting into schools should not be based on your own agenda. There is significance in partnering with other church leaders to grow God’s Kingdom!
Do you spend time with other youth pastors and leaders? We need the support, accountability, and fresh eyes that partnering with other churches provides. Reach out and develop relationships with other church leaders. If there is not a Youth Pastor’s Network in your local area, work to launch one. Take initiative, make yourself available, and get to know your local surroundings!
3. Get to know the available resources. ‘There is an app for that’ can be applied to all aspects of youth ministry. Whether it is Sermon Central or any of the major youth ministry organizations, there is always curriculum available for free. Spend 20 minutes searching online and you will find more ideas for games than you could ever imagine! I can connect you with event planning tools, leadership training material, and anything else you could possibly imagine. The youth ministry wheel does not need to be recreated! There are articles and blogs that talk about every form of social media, ‘what to do if’ that covers every disastrous situation, and even how to organize a local Dodgeball tournament. Don’t waste time developing programs, systems, or curriculum. Instead, build relationships with parents, students, leaders, and other youth pastors!
Youth Ministry Websites to Bookmark
- Youth Specialties
- The Source 4 Youth Ministry
- Simply Youth Ministry
- More than Dodgeball
- Sticky Faith
- Download Youth Ministry
4. Get to know the Source of your calling. It is extremely important to understanding God has specifically placed you where you are. It is not to develop your platform or to get to the next level in ministry. God desires to use you to reach students, partner with parents, and empower leaders! That is your calling. When we seek to know God more every day, He will give us strength that goes above and beyond our own ability. He will use us in ways that we could never imagine! Seek and know God more, and be used by Him to grow the ministry He has called you to!
Don’t miss what God has for you now by dreaming about where He may want you next! When we rely on our surroundings, resources, and God’s strength we will see more success than we can handle! It will keep us encouraged, fill us with energy, and give us reason to wake up tomorrow and do it all over again!