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How To Get Started In Youth Ministry

How To Get Started In Youth Ministry

We had an email come in to the ym360 Inbox from a young lady who said she felt God calling her to go into youth ministry. She asked a logical question, “What do I do next?” Instead of answering her directly, I thought I’d write a blog post giving her my recommendations, but then opening this up to the ym360 Community. 

So, let’s help her out. If someone asked you the question, “God’s calling me to youth ministry; what should I do next,” how would you respond?

Here are my thoughts to someone looking to go into youth ministry. Consider add any additional thoughts you have in the comments section below. 

Get Plugged In

Get plugged in to your church’s youth ministry as soon as possible. If you’re not already actively engaged in teaching or otherwise engaging teenagers, find a way to begin doing so. You need to know teenagers and to know how to shape their faith. This only happens by actually doing it. 

Maybe you already serve as a volunteer teacher or small group leader. In this case, maybe you could inform your youth leader of God’s call on your life. See if he or she would begin to give you some exposure to what goes on “behind the scenes,” whether that would be calendaring, planning, any sort of discipleship philosophy your ministry operates on, staff considerations, etc. 

Grow In Your Knowledge Of The Craft Of Youth Ministry

More so than ever before, there is a wealth of great youth ministry knowledge and information to be had. Books, blogs, and conferences abound. By simply searching for youth ministers and youth ministries online, you can begin to learn what it means to do the work of a youth minister. 

This blog is a great place to start. The ym360 Blog has over 800 articles on doing youth ministry. But there are other great sites as well. There are organizations like Simply Youth Ministry, Download Youth Ministry, and Youth Specialties that have great youth ministry blogs and resources. There are also a TON of youth workers in the trenches of youth ministry writing awesome blogs. Most of our ym360 Contributors have their own sites. (You can access them here.) Or, a quick Google search for “youth ministry blog” will turn up a lot of solid results. 

There are great books available, too. We recommend a lot of books, but some of our go-to’s are the following: 

Big Picture Strategy/Philosophy Books

  • First Two Years In Youth Ministry by Doug Fields
  • Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark DeVries
  • Building A Youth Ministry That Builds Disciples by Duffy Robbins
  • Thriving Youth Ministry In Smaller Churches by Rick Chromey and Stephanie Cairo 
  • Sticky Faith by Chap Clark and Kara Powell

“How-To”/Niche Books

  • The 7 Best Practices For Teaching Teenagers The Bible by Andy Blanks (hey, I'm biased!)
  • Youth Ministry In A Post Christian World by Brock Morgan
  • Jesus Centered Youth Ministry by Rick Lawrence
  • Youth Ministry On A Shoestring by Lars Rood
  • Counseling Teenagers by Tim Clinton and Chap Clark

While youth ministry conferences take extra time and financial commitment, they are really great ways to be among other youth workers and to soak in a tremendous amount of knowledge about the philosophy and strategy of doing youth ministry.

Join Or Start A Local Youth Ministry Network

One of the most invaluable things I’ve seen in the youth ministry landscape is local networks of youth workers. These are usually multiple churches in the same denomination within a city or community that meet monthly or quarterly (though I have seen plenty that are not denomination-specific). The meetings are times where youth workers can encourage one another, fellowship, and talk about what’s working (and what’s not) in their youth ministries. It’s a great resource for young youth workers. 

Don’t Neglect Growing Your Own Relationship With God

One of the most important things you can do is to commit to a deep walk with God. Ministry is trying. Having a full spiritual tank is crucial in weathering the storms that will come. But also, I have found over the years that we teach and lead out of the overflow of what God is doing in our own lives. When that tank is empty, it’s hard to inspire and lead. Don’t neglect your own spiritual growth. It’s the life-source of being an effective youth worker. 

These are just a few thoughts I have.

I wonder what any of the experienced youth workers in the ym360 Community might add?

If you have a thought or a book, blog, or website, leave it in the comment section below. 


About The Author

Andy Blanks

Andy Blanks

Andy Blanks is the Publisher and Co-Founder of YM360 and Iron Hill Press. A former Marine, Andy has spent the last 17 years working in youth ministry, mostly in the field of publishing. During that time, Andy has led the development of some of the most-used Bible study curriculum and discipleship resources in the country. He has authored numerous books, Bible studies, and articles, and regularly speaks at events and conferences, both for adults and teenagers. Andy and his wife, Brendt, were married in 2000. They have four children: three girls and one boy.