Giving youth pastors the tools they need to make and shape disciples.

12 Questions New Youth Pastors Should Ask If They Want To Build A Successful Youth Ministry

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If you are a new youth pastor, there’s a lot to learn about youth, you church, programming, parents, relationships and more. These 12 question will get you started to not only understanding your role as a youth pastor but will help you make better choices when it comes to programming for success.

I’ve broken down the questions into four categories with 3 questions each.

Understanding the Community

Who are the youth in our community? 

What are the demographics, interests, challenges, and spiritual backgrounds of student in my community? How can we best connect with them where they’re at? Where are the hot spots in my town? Take a ride around on a Friday or Saturday night and see where students gather, then come up with a strategy to reach them.

What existing youth programs are available? 

How can I partner with them to avoid duplication and maximize impact? Is there a youth basketball league in your town, don’t start another (unless their is high demand and low supply); start a volleyball league instead. Consider your youth ministry’s unique offering to the community.

What are the concerns and expectations of parents and church leadership regarding youth ministry? 

How can I ensure alignment and collaboration? This is a conflict I ran into. Your heart may be to reach “everyone” and their heart might be to reach “some” or even “none”. Make sure the mission is clear on both sides.

Building Connection and Engagement

What are the most effective ways to create a welcoming and inclusive space for youth? 

How can we celebrate diversity and foster a sense of belonging? Inclusive and Diversity are not dirty words. Jesus wants all kinds of kids to find Him and be discipled in your your youth ministry.

But let’s be practical, as well. Nothing say, “we don’t care” like a dirty youth room. If your youth room is dirty, clean it. If your youth room needs a make over to make it more welcoming, put some extra money in your budget for it. Most of all, train your leaders and students to be more welcoming.

What formats for gatherings and activities resonate best with our youth? 

Should we offer Bible studies, social events, service projects, or a mix? The three most important words when you are making your calendar is why, what and when. Why does this event or meeting need to exist? What will go into this event: money, people, etc. And when is the best time to have this meeting or event?

How can we encourage genuine faith exploration and spiritual growth? 

This is discipleship. What resources, mentorship opportunities, and worship experiences can you offer? Curriculum or lessons play a part in answering this question but it’s not the only thing.

How you design your meeting and the kind of leaders you have will encourage or inhibit spiritual growth. If your meeting is all preaching and no discussion, don’t be shocked that kids don’t grow in their faith.

Measuring Success and Sustainability

How do we define success for our youth ministry? 

Is it increased attendance, deeper faith commitment, community service participation, or something else? Definitions of success vary. If you can’t define “success” you’ll never know when you achieve it and will not know how to measure it or repeat it. Set your goals and programming in line with your definition of success not opposing them.

What metrics will I use to track progress and assess the impact of our programs? 

How can you ensure you’re meeting the needs of your youth and community? Your goals and impact will be set by you internally but, keep in mind, there are other forces with other metrics being measured by such questions as, “Is my child having fun?” and your Pastor asking, “Do these parents trust the youth leader?” Make sure everyone has the same ruler when the measure the results of your work.

What resources and support do I need to ensure the long-term sustainability of the youth ministry? 

How can you secure funding, recruit and retain volunteers, and maintain momentum? The youth budget will determine some of this but I’ve grown youth ministries with small budgets. Creativity, not money, is your greatest asset.

Having a team is also critical to sustainability. You can’t build a youth ministry all by yourself. God did not design you to be a Lone Wolf. Work on adding people to your team that will help you shoulder the weight of responsibilities.

Personal Development as a Youth Pastor

What resources and opportunities are available for continuous learning and professional development? 

How can I stay up-to-date on best practices and relevant trends in youth ministry? This can feel daunting because you can’t know everything going on in Teen World. You don’t need to know about culture and trends as much as you need to know what God’s word says about cultures and trends. Cultures and trends change day to day and generation to generation but God’s word never changes.

How can I build strong relationships with youth, mentors, and colleagues? 

What strategies can I use to create a supportive and collaborative environment? You need a network of people, outside of your church, to not only sustain your faith but your mental health. Sitting in an office or a coffee shop all day isn’t healthy. Find where other youth pastor meet and join them or start something and invite others. If you can’t find those people, consider hiring a coach or a mentor.

How can I balance personal well-being with the demands of ministry? 

What spiritual practices and self-care routines can help me stay energized and avoid burnout? Burnout is a real thing and it will sneak up on you if you’re not careful. Take stock spiritually and emotionally to make sure you tank is full. You will need to, as David did, learn to encourage your self.

“David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.”

There will be those days where you feel like you’ve been stoned or a stoning is imminent. For these times you need a coach/mentor. Who can you go to during these times? Who’s your Day 1 supporters?

Yes, ask these questions. Get a journal and write them down and then, as time goes on and you discover the answers (most likely through failure), write the answers down. Document your journey and 20 years from now you’ll look back and happy you did.

Youth Ministry Resources To Help You Answer These Questions

If you’re struggling to answer some of these questions, you don’t have to. I’ve created resources to help new youth pastors work through many of these questions.

New Youth Pastor Bundle

Squad Goals: Goal Setting Course

​My Youth Ministry Playbook 2024​

​My Youth Meeting Playbook 2.0​

​My Monthly Mentor​


​The Disciple Project Outreach Manual​

​Youth Ministry Store​ (over 100 resources)

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