How To Get The Youth Ministry Job You Want

I can remember wanting to be a youth pastor so bad, I would have taken any job, and I did. They were my fever dream decisions. If I had read the job description better and put on my thinking hat instead of my heart hat, I could have avoided a few things like working too much for too little and getting in over my head.

Every church ad for a YP  differs from church to church based on denomination, size of church, etc. Some churches put everything in the job description you will be doing and others out just enough to lure you in and then  CLANK! the gate slams and you’re caught.

I want you to be able to discern what a church is asking of you so you can decide this is good fit and if you should even apply for.

Let’s get started. This is a real ad and church names. etc. have been left out.

JOB DESCRIPTION: Family Life Coordinator (this means you’re about to do a lot of work and not just youth pastoring) 

JOB SUMMARY

The Family Life Coordinator is a qualified professional teambuilder who contributes to the mission of the Church both by active service and by personal example. The Coordinator interacts with parish and diocesan staff, and the People of God – especially youth and their families – to promote authentic religious values and authentic Church teachings.

Note: Churches put fancy talk in their job descriptions. Besides, what is a Qualified Professional? Do you need a certificate?

JOB RESPONSIBILITIES

The Coordinator serves in promoting family life in the parish, principally through running a Middle School and High School youth program, interacting with wider parish membership, being present at parish events, and managing the parish social media and membership communications. The Coordinator will accomplish the following responsibilities:

Note: I made this statement bold because managing social media is a full job in itself. Trust me ( blog, podcast, youtube, etc.) I smell over worked and underpaid immediately. So far, they have said they want  a qualified professional teambuilder and a social media director (2 jobs, paid for one I would negotiate higher pay from the get go if you have any certifications in these areas)

1. Develops successful Middle School and High School youth programs, including a team of volunteers, that meet once a week (except for vacation periods) during the school year and include occasional special activities/initiatives.

Note: make them define, in writing, what they think a successful MS and HS programs look like. You are cheating yourself if you don’t have a clear goal.

2. Facilitates the recruitment and training of volunteers for the youth programs.

Note: What is the median age of the church, is there enough viable people to recruit, is there an established council, or are you on your own?

3. Leads a delegation of youth/families/individuals to the annual March for Life in Washington, DC.
4. Manages the parish web site, Facebook page, Twitter/Instagram accounts, and makes recommendations on effective social media usage to the Pastor.
5. Evaluates and further develops means of regular communication and outreach with parishioners: SMS/text, email, parish app, bulletin, etc.

Note: Once agin. Job #3 Manage a website.  Skill not listed in qualifications.

6. Assists with the layout and production of the weekly parish bulletin.

Note: No, just no. This is job #4

10. Keeps statistics and metrics so that the effectiveness of our activities/initiatives can be measured on an occasional (at least annual) basis.

Note: First thing I’ve read that I like. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth measuring.

11. Attends periodic staff meetings (usually monthly).
12. Works with the DRE to run background checks on and ensure Youth Protection certification for all volunteers.

Note: Another thing I like. A church that does not do background checks is asking for trouble. In fact, you should not work at a church that does not do this at some level.

13. Assist the  Secretary occasionally with phone/receptionist responsibilities for brief periods.

Note: Job number #5!!! Stop reading and move on. They cannot afford you at this point.

14. Collaborates with the Wedding Coordinator on the usage of the Cathedral Life Center.

Note: Job #6 Wedding Coordinator. Say no to the dress.

15. Collaborates with other parish activities and initiatives on the common promotion of family life in the parish.
16. Assist with occasional “all hands on deck”-type parish events, under the direction of the Pastor.

Note: All hands on deck? I don’t have any hands left.

SUPERVISION

SUPERVISED BY: The Pastor/Rector
SUPERVISES: Team Volunteers
LEADS/GUIDES: Team Volunteers

Note:  A) I supervise volunteers they do not supervise me. B) We are peers and mutually accountable for God’s work.

JOB SPECIFICATIONS

EDUCATION:

  • Required: Bachelor of Arts or equivalent, as well as prior experience with youth programs and demonstrated competence and prudence with social media. 

Note: They forgot the degree in Social Media, Wedding Coordinating, and All Hands On Deck-ology.

  • Desired: Demonstrated success in a similar position held previously.

LICENSES, CERTIFICATION AND/OR REGISTRATIONS: N/A
EQUIPMENT/TOOLS/WORK AIDS: Computer skills, copying machine, and knowledge of other office equipment

Note: Double Nope! Ok, you should know how to push the copy button.

SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE & SKILLS: Must be:

9. Creative, without imposing personal opinions on people.
10. Organized and able to multi-task through wise prioritization and scheduling.

Note: Number 9 is pure garbage. If you’re a creative who cannot push your ideas forward, why are they paying you? This may have been placed in here due to a former pushy employee. That’s how rules get made.

PERSONAL TRAITS QUALITIES & APTITUDES: Friendly, willing to work with others and have the capacity to delegate tasks. Open to the ideas of others. Willing to work for the greater good of the Parish, the Diocese, and the Universal Church. Willing to use personal gifts for the good of the whole. Able to win the respect and loyalty of co-workers. Able to relate to youth in a prudent manner and encourage them in their practice of the faith and spiritual/human growth.

  • Be flexible, assertive, persuasive, organized, and highly motivated
  • Demonstrate an ability to accept responsibility for direction, control, and planning of an activity
  • Demonstrate an ability to make generalizations, evaluations, and decision based on sensory or judgmental criteria
  • Demonstrate an ability to perform a variety of duties requiring the changing from one task to another without loss of efficiency or composure
  • Demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively with people of all socioeconomic backgrounds
  • Demonstrate an ability to solve problems in a creative and effective manner
  • Be willing to assess personal strengths and weaknesses and receive and respond to performance reviews and constructive criticism

Note: This person does not exist, so it cannot be you.

Verdict: They want you to work 6 jobs and pay you for one. This job is an F. Do          not apply.

If you’re looking at Youth Pastor job ads, and see one that is crazy, send it over to me and I’ll be happy to dissect and grade it.

If you would like practice applying for a youth ministry job, I offer practice interviews HERE

10 Important Youth Ministry Practices That Could Prevent A Teen Suicide

Recent suicides by entrepreneur Kate Spade and chef/tv star Anthony Bordaine, reminded me that if money, power, influence, tons friends and excitement  can’t hold back depression and suicidal thoughts, what’s keeping a kid in my youth group from ending his or her life?

Here’s the podcast

This report, last year (2017) show that teen suicide is on the rise

Here are the notes

I have had, to my knowledge, only one student attempt suicide in my 30 years of youth ministry. I cannot tell you whether any of my youth ministry practices prevented any of these as there are no testimonies as such. But, my hope is, that everything I tried to do (listed below) was a speed bump for a kid who was heading down that path.

Let me share 10 youth ministry practices that could keep a kid from ending their life.

open ended questions…

So much of a midweek meeting with youth is about the program. Youth leaders are trying to make the program happen so the conversations with students can b very surface level. Regardless of the length of the conversation, we can ask open ended questions that would allow a student, who you’d consider at risk,  the room to answer openly and honestly.

Start with “how’s school going?” but go a little deeper with, “Do you feel like you have a strong group of friends to help you make it through school?”

affirm their worth & how much God values them

Kids are constantly hearing about how much they don’t measure up.  We have to pour on the love and affirmation to counteract that. I don’t just mean through messages, but though one on one, over lunch, or in a text message.

You don’t need to see them down and out before giving them a kind word. Give them the love they need long before they need it.

forgiveness and redemption 

Jesus is our hope. I, like you, have preached my share of fire and brimstone, not good enough to go to heaven, messages. I don’t deny the reality of hell, our own sinfulness or our inability to measure up to the holiness God asks of us, but if this is the only messages kids hear, what hope is there?

I’ve gotten much better at offering truth in love with a bunch of hope for good measure. God reveals to each of us how we do not measure up and pours grace upon our wounds. A student doesn’t need our condemnation and judgment, they need to know there is a way to be forgiven and that God has made a way out of the darkness they’r in.

follow up

This one is so simple, yet, the busyness of life steals it like Satan steals the seed. How many times has God checked my heart to call or contact a student who I thought was struggling and busyness swallowed that thought? Too many to count.

Whether it’s us or one of our leaders, we have to respond to the Spirit’s prompting towards those kids who are missing in action. If a student misses one night that’s one thing, but two in a row, that could means something else. We must be diligent to notice when students are not with us. When we call or text we are saying, “We noticed you were gone.” We care.

random kindness

I had a student who was sick recently. I could have sent a text and offered “thoughts and prayers” but I went deeper. I had a lady in our church, who’s a florist, put together some of this students favorite goodies and deliver them to her house by the time she was arriving home from a procedure.

This girl was not an “at risk” student, but I did it anyway. Why? Because I don’t know how much kindness she receives at school. She doesn’t fit the type of kid who might think about suicide (neither was Spade or Bordaine) and I hope, with healthy doses of kindness towards her, she never will.

be awkward, “how are you doing, really?”

Go ahead and be awkward. I had a conversation with a young man who, by his pictures on Instagram, was not going well for him, The pics, plus not looking well, plus hear say, led me to believe he might be at risk.

We sat at McDonald and I saw something in his eyes and demeanor I did not like. So I just asked him, “Have you thought about hurting yourself lately?” He denied having an inclinations, and it was awkward to ask, but I’m still glad I did. Now, he knows that I know he might have been having struggles. He might open up next time I ask.

train teens/leaders to be empathetic

Youth night at church should be a safe haven for kids, but sometimes the students in our ministry do not act any different than the kids they see at school. Youth night is filled with imperfect kids who do and say imperfect things just like we do, but we have the microphone or the floor,  and we can direct thoughts and attitudes.

We can teach on how Jesus who, rather than judge others, showed mercy and empathy. We can have practices like

  • getting to know each other’s names
  • meet and greet
  • small group time for conversation
  • affirmation times

These kind of things are not practiced regularly or enforced at school;  but at church, kids willfully come and we can design our meetings to encourage kids to practice empathy towards one another.

clearly defined standards, policies and procedures

I am a big fan of standards. If the house rule is not bullying, that’s the rule and no one is beyond it. If the house rule is no creeping on each other, that’s the rule and I enforce it to the best of my ability.

I had a group of kids one time where one boy would not leave a girl alone. I asked that young Man to stop, I councils him, I told hime to take a few weeks off to think about it and call me every week to check in. He would not have any of it and neither would his friends, and they all left.

Not only should we have standards (rules) we enforce but when we have kids at risk, we need to have phone numbers in our phone for emergencies, numbers of counselors or therapists we can recommend, and other resources we can point to.

If a kid maks the claim that they are going to commit suicide, we need to have a policy, back up by the church, that allows the youth pastor to make that call in agreement with his pastor or boss.

be prophetic

If you’re older than a teenager, you have some thing they do not, perspective. You’ve lived through a few things. You know things because you came though some stuff with God’s help. We need to pass that on.

If you’re a youth worker or a Christian, like me, you have some idea of God’s word and the hope and promise it contains, and you need to spread it around.

We have to see kids, not as they are, but as they will be. Jesus called Peter the rock while he was still a pebble. We should be looking at kids and saying things like,

  • you can make an impact
  • you have potential
  • you have more courage in you than you think
  • you could be a leader

Positively prophesying over a student lets’ them know that you see something they may not and affirms their worth and value. Powerful, positive, Spirit-Filled words can change the course of life for a kid and lead them out of the darkness.

small groups and accountability

Connecting kids in a smaller group where they can know others and be known is powerful step for at risk kids. Being in a smaller group allows them to build trust and be more vulnerable as well as have a safety valve to release the pressures of life.

These groups do not have to be standard Bible study groups, but could be groups who are just committed to checking in, praying for one another, and lifting one another up on hard days.

Like I said, I cannot prove that any thing I just listed here has averted any kid from taking their life, but, I can’t disprove it either. So, I guess I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and pray for the same outcome, that kids will find their way out of the darkness and into God’s marvelous light.

Here’s a free resource from my friend Jim Hancock on dealing with suicide

Here’s my interview with Jim on How To Deal With A Crisis

10 Weird Feelings After A Mission Trip

I recently came back from the country of Panama. This is my 4th trip to a South or Central American country and every time I get back I feel so many weird feelings. Here are my top ten weirdest feelings after coming back from a mission trip.

Walking past kids and feeling you should make them a balloon animal.

Walking past kids and wondering why they’re not excited to see you. I brought balloons!!

Tempted to say hola’ , adios, buenos días, and gracias to EVERYONE  

Wondering if it’s ok to drink my own water.

Driving myself everywhere.

Why are cars driving so far away from me? I loved being able to reach out and shake hands with fellow drivers. 

Trying to figure out how to order my food in English without making hand gestures.

Wondering what I am doing every day.  Where’s my schedule? 

Constantly checking my back pocket to see if I have my passport.

Wondering where my other 50 friends went to. #missionposse

Mission trips are fun, exhausting, exhilarating, and God filled, but watch out when you get home, its weird.

What’s the weirdest feeling you have after a mission trip?

Need mission trip devotions? Click HERE 

The Youth Ministry Round Up #9

May the 4th Be With You!

Youth Ministry Round Up has been a great new format to get you all the stuff you want/need in one place. I think it best describe what I am trying to do for all of you. Create and round up the best stuff so you can continue to make life long follower of Jesus.

Quotes

Articles

How Much Are The Elements In Your Body Worth? 

Christian College Student Sang ‘Jesus Loves Me’ Before She Was Shot Dead in Waffle House

Evernote for Youth Ministry: Receipts 

12 Wendell Berry Quotes That Will Give You A Fresh Perspective

Videos

A Crafty Gift for the Christian Teen

If you are looking to talk about value, start with your own body. As a follow up, check out the article above.

Youth Ministry and Social Media Strategy

VBS Project or Just For Fun!

THIIIIIIIIISSSSSS!! 

Youth Ministry Round Up #8

A quick poll:

Quotes

Articles

The Powerful Reason You Should Be Unreasonable 

GQ: Most Christian Act Like the Bible Doesn’t Matter

When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?

Five Insane Cults Tied To South Florida

Podcasts

Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast: Anxiety in Young Leaders

Multiply Youth Ministry Podcast: Building Relationships With Students

Videos

Wednesday at One Livestream

A pair of transformation videos. These videos are fairly extensive, but I think they can offer background for a future message on helping/serving and whether they should it be made public or secret. I would also check the comments to see how others are responding.

10 Party Games You’ll Want To Try

Are you using these three social platforms to their maximum potential?

Box Forts!! What are you waiting for!!?

Youth Ministry Round Up #7

 

Quotes

 

Articles

Justin Bieber Led Worship at a Coachella Event

A Free, Just-As-Good, Alternative To Photoshop?

What To Do When Everything Is Changing (Good for businesses, good for youth ministries)

Podcast

Great insight about being a surviving artist (KJ-52)

Losing Students Without Losing Yourself (Click here for the show notes)

Video

Is your youth group dying from low expectation? Brian breaks down on why the cost of faith should be high.

Great YG Countdown rom Delmar Peet

Real Doctor Reacts To The Good Doctor (TV Show) This would make a good parody video of a “Real” Christian Watching A “Fake” Christian and commentating.

Youth Ministry Round Up #6

Quotes

Almost every successful person begins with two beliefs: the future can be better than the present and I have the power to make it so. – Psychology Living

Articles

The Importance of “Hey, I miss you!” 

Christian group asks Netflix to pull ’13 Reasons Why’ after teen suicides

The Spiritual Practice of Humor 

Tipping Points In Spiritual Formation

Podcast

The Longer Haul: What to do with busy teens

Videos

Great series on Christian basics through drawing.

This is a fanatic testimony about acceptance and influence from a Youtube Creator. Pay attention youth workers, because they are paying attention to you.

Anyone else struggle with this? Fun opener for youth group.

My first live stream in a long time: Wednesdays at One

The Importance of “Hey! I Missed You”

I love telling kids I miss them. Now, I don’t necessarily like that kids were missing from the event or meeting but I love to tell them that I missed them. I know how it makes me feel when someone misses me. They are saying, “You are valuable. You presence is important and we know when it is not among us.”

If you are not telling kids they are missed, shame on you. You’re missing an opportunity to affirm a kids existence. You can take this to the next level.

I do my best to text parents the next day to let them know I missed their kids. I also tell them in person and they know me well enough that I’m not making a big deal about attendance. I am telling them that I value their kids. I have an opportunity to tell parents that I value what their kids bring to the youth meeting/ministry

Presence – They make a difference in our group

Leadership – Their example/influence makes a difference.

Servanthood– They offer their gift of practicality and helps.

Voice – They add value to our worship and ministry time

Compassion – They have open hearts and welcoming arms

Communicating with parents about the value of their children, to you, the ministry, and the world, is just as powerful as telling the kids themselves.

It’s a lonely world. Kids need to hear it. Parents need to hear it. You need to hear it. “Hey! I missed you.”

For more on the loneliness epidemic, listen to my interview with Tim Eldred: Alone Sucks