I’ve been doing youth ministry for a while now. And while I still make my share of mistakes (who doesn’t?), I can gladly say that I don’t make rookie mistakes anymore.
Here’s a list of some of the more common mistakes rookie youth workers make, and some thoughts on how to avoid them.
Doing Everything Yourself
When you're first starting out in ministry it can be difficult to ask for help. Whether you feel intimidated to reach out or have an unrealistic idea that you should run everything in the student ministry because “that’s what you get paid to do,” trying to run a ministry on your own is a mistake on several levels. One of those mainly being that the ministry revolves around you. If you were to leave then the ministry wouldn't move on or function as well. Get other parents and adults involved. Even Jesus shared the responsibilities (John 13:29).
Filling The Baptistery With Ice To Use It As A Cooler
Ahh, the history of mistakes runs deep in student ministry doesn't it? I don’t think this one really needs further explanation.
Not Taking Time For Yourself And Your Family
We all know that serving at a church can be overwhelming. There's always something that needs to be done. A never-ending list of projects to accomplish. It's a mistake to try and finish them all today. Becoming blinded by all that “needs” to get done and not taking time for yourself or your family is a problem that affects almost all pastors. Never putting down the phone or closing your email is a great equation for burn out.
Running Your Youth Ministry Separated From The Church As A Whole
In a teenager’s mind there is already a viewpoint of “us and them” when thinking of adults. When you do everything in your ministry separated from the rest of the church it only strengthens that viewpoint and leads to teenagers not feeling part of the church. It also may be a primary reason why there is such a drop off in church attendance once a student graduates out of the youth ministry. They don’t go to church because they never felt like they were part of the church. Be sure to incorporate your students into adult services and adults into your youth services.
Not Saying “No”
Whether it's by the senior pastor, parents, coaches, FCA representatives, chapel services, volunteers—they all will ask you to do something and help out in some way. These are often great opportunities but saying yes to all of them will spread you too thin and can even lead ineffectiveness. It's more than okay, and even encouraged, to serve in ways outside of the church or your job description. But don’t let it derail you from doing what you were called to do.
So, that’s my list. What would you add?