Four Simple Ways to be a Great Youth Minister.
by Amber Bolton
1. Turn off your phone.
You may be thinking “There’s an off button on my cell phone?” The answer is yes. And we should use it. On my Sabbath day, I like to spend my morning writing, reading, and praying. It’s difficult to do this when my phone is beeping, ringing, and blowin’ up with notifications. Each week I try to turn off my phone for these few hours and sometimes I’ll do a 24 hour phone fast. I know this is difficult to do because of emergencies and such, and so I encourage you to find a good balance.
Think of your time with God like this: imagine you were sitting across from a friend and all he did was look at his phone, half listen to your conversation, and never make eye contact. Every once and awhile he’d put down his phone, but as soon as it lights up, he’s looking at it again. Rude, right? Well God is searching for us to spend time with him, undivided, uninterrupted time.
So, try to turn off your phone for a little bit. I promise that all your calls, notifications, and emails will be waiting for you when you return.
2. Go to the gym.
In a world of youth ministry by death of pizza and pop, we need to learn to balance youth group food with a little personal workout. I know time seems to always be the excuse but what if you combined youth ministry and exercise?
Use working out as a way to connect with students. I’ve learned that taking a walk, going for a run, or kicking a soccer ball with a student or two is just as effective as sitting across from a student at a coffee shop. With several of my youth, I can get them talking about life more when we are walking or running than if we are sitting formally across from one another. It serves two needs at the same time: exercise and intentional conversations with teens.
In the last year, I’ve created running monsters in my youth ministry. I have several girls who are now running in races because they have seen me train and workout and have wanted to join me in the challenge. It’s a beautiful thing when we care for our bodies and instill that within our ministries. So, this week…go to the gym. Or call up a student and take a walk around the church building or their neighborhood.
The Bible. Youth ministry blogs. Ministry books. Non-fiction, fiction, anything. Just read. Be a constant learner. If it helps, take your book to Starbucks and treat yourself. Get some space, imagine, learn, and focus on someone else’s creativity. We spend so many hours creating and implementing, talking and leading. Take a few moments to listen, read, allow your imagination to go into someone else’s world for a few moments. Feel free to combine this one with 1 and 2! Read on the treadmill, turn off your phone and read in a bookstore.
4. Talk to parents.
It took me several years in youth ministry to discover that sitting at the “adult table” is just as effective and important to your ministry as sitting at the “kid table.” I have found that relationships with parents is just as crucial as the ones I have with their teen. When was the last time you wrote a thank you note to a parent, or took a parent out to lunch, or simply talked to a parent at church-not to bug them about turning in retreat paperwork, but to simply see how their life is going? We become better youth pastors when we connect with the whole family. You’ll make incredible leaps in your ministry if you encourage and connect with parents. Write a note to a parent today!