As I was thinking back on my career in youth ministry, I started to recall some of the resources that I have come to love and wish I had known about when I first got started in ministry. Then I thought, why not list these resources and share them? So if you're a new or "younger" youth worker, or if you know a youth worker who is new or "younger," share this list with them!
Here they are: The 5 resources I wish I knew as a new youth minister:
1. Book: The Purpose Driven Youth Ministry, by Doug Fields.
No surprise right? Well those who know me well, no that I am a sold out PDYM guy. I read The Purpose Driven Youth Ministry the summer of 2000 and it rocked my ministry world. I had already served as a volunteer youth worker, a part-time youth worker, and was one year in to a full-time position at a church in the Pittsburgh area. Doug's book was the catalyst that I needed to help me rethink and reshape what I thought youth ministry to be. The book didn't change my philosophy, nor did it change what I believed to be the core principles that served as my foundational building blocks. What it did change was how I saw myself as a professional; it gave me the tools to focus my ministry, and the resources and help talk about the work I was doing. I believe every youth worker should read The Purpose Driven Youth Ministry.
2. Book: Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry, by Doug Fields
Another book that will help shape your understanding and actions in youth ministry is Doug's book, Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry. Again, another solid resource that will help you start your career off right. From ground zero, to leadership help, to working with parents, Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry will help you navigate the often-tumultuous road of youth ministry.
3. Networking: Get Connected with a Local Youth Workers Network
One of the big things I love about working with other youth workers is Kingdom focus. Too often, Pastors seem to see each other as a threat and fear loosing membership to the neighboring churches. But there is something different with youth workers. Many youth workers seem to take delight in coming alongside one another to encourage, pray for, resource, and idea-build. I have worked with a couple wonderful networks, and found them to be extremely helpful. These were people who shared my passions, thought the way I thought, acted the way I acted, and invested in students like I invested in students. They also understood the difficulties, hardships, and stigma that comes with being a "lifer" in youth ministry.
4. Blogging: Get Connected with Great Minds on the Internet
I love the Internet. Sometimes it feels like there is a living breathing community of encouragement, ideas, and help among the blogs and podcasts online! In 2007, I moved to the ministry of St. Paul's, here in Somerset. At the same time, podcasts and youth ministry blogs started filling cyberspace with a ton of FREE and useful resources for youth workers. Simply Youth Ministry's podcast with Doug and friends quickly became one of my favorite podcasts. Jonathan McKee's website became a favorite for games. There are a ton of amazing resources out there! Some may be hard to find; but it's worth looking.
5. Conference/Training: Keep Growing and Challenging Yourself
The last resource is training. Every youth worker should attend at least one conference a year. Now there are a couple dozen wonderful conferences that are national, as well as many denominational opportunities for youth workers to attend. It's important that you understand the need for conference attendance. You will grow tremendously! Training, worship, encouragement, support, fun, new friends, networking, rest . . . all of these things await you at a youth ministry conference! The youth ministry conferences I have attended have always been a blessing to my ministry and me. And quite honestly, they have helped to add to my longevity in ministry.
There you go, 5 things I wish I knew when I started youth ministry. If you have a moment, add some of your "things" in the comment section below.