Ministry jobs can be molded into 40-hour a week, five-day schedules. Youth ministry positions certainly can’t fit that corporate model. I think that causes friction in some churches where parishioners believe that they should find a youth pastor in the office when they visit church. I can’t think of too many worse places for a youth pastor to be than in the office all the time.
Let me offer all the reasons why a youth leader position is not a desk job:
- Hanging out with students is the most important aspect of the job.
- Hanging out with students in the students’ environments builds strong and trusting relationships
- Attending student sporting events, graduation parties, and school functions is far more important to students than knowing they can find their youth leader in the office
- If you are hanging out with students and attending events, you will be putting in plenty of hours and it’s probably time to spend some time with your family and friends rather than put more hours in at the office.
I don’t expect to get much pushback from readers on this. But then why is there pressure on youth leaders to be in the church more? Why isn’t there an understanding or at least a trust level that the leaders are out in the student community when they aren’t in the church office? I know of some lead pastors that push their youth leaders to be in the office more. That’s just crazy.
I’m not so naive that I don’t understand the need for youth leaders to work closely with lead pastors, church staff, the consistory/council, and parents. Communicating your vision, sharing stories and prayer needs will build support and excitement around youth ministry. But I would rate that pretty far down on the list of things to do.
I am the kind of detail-obsessive person that makes to-do lists and I found that I needed to strategically prioritize my activities when it came to youth ministry. Here’s a brief summary of my list:
- Pray for every student in our church every morning
- Plan and organize the next youth event. Make sure it’s all set.
- Chart sporting events, school events, graduation parties, and any other activity where one of our youth group would be, so I could show up and remind them how important they are.
- Meet at schools with students. Take them out for pizza or bring pizza to school.
- Keep the lead pastor updated and involved in our planning and ask them to keep the consistory/council updated.
- Make myself available to meet with parents and follow up with parents just to say “hey.”
- Pray some more for the students.
Nothing I’ve written is profound. Because I’m trying to keep the blog short, it’s not even complete. I just wanted to encourage youth leaders to love on your students and show them how important they are by meeting them in their world. And if any pastors or parents are reading this, please make sure you have your youth leaders’ backs when they are out with students. Recognize their efforts and affirm that youth ministry, like pretty much every other kind of ministry, happens best outside the walls of the church.