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

After My First Year of Youth Ministry Coaching, Here’s What I’ve Learned

10 · 29 · 19

It’s been a year since I’ve put my coaching shingle out and said, “Hey Youth Workers, I can help you build a successful youth ministry”. It’s been quite the year but it’s been educational as well and I thought I’d pass on what I’ve learned to you.

It’s more than x’s and o’s

Part of every session we have is about events and activities, follow up and data, but that’s only a starting place. These strategy sessions are critically important because it’s what you don’t know that can hurt you. If you see a situation as x, I make a case for it being y because I believe understanding y will get you further.

My sessions are not rubber stamps for what a youth worker is doing. I ask “why?” a lot. I push back. I challenge the status quo. That’s what I believe good coaches do.

I want youth workers to walk away challenged and refreshed at the same times so I make sure we talk not only strategy but family. Family is who is with us at the end of the day and the ones we should value to most. The right perspective can get us through a lot of ministry garbage.

It’s like talking to myself

My young self that is. The guys I coach are very much who I was at their age. The same struggles are present and I’m able to give the advice I wish someone had given to me to stay out of the dog house.

It’s a little weird to hear someone use the same words I’ve used when describing their struggles and disappointments as a youth worker. My empathy has never been more heightened than when I’m talking with a youth worker who is going through something that I went through.

I do my best to offer youth workers the compassion and courage others have shown me when I’ve gone through the grinder of life and ministry.

Ask more questions, then listen

Coaching is about two things, asking good questions and listening. It’s not about what I know or my experience, it’s about how to weave any knowledge I may have into the conversation. Any value I may offer is based on my understanding a situation, and understanding only comes through listening.

Stephen R Covey said,

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” ― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

I’m not a therapist, but I am a human being whose been through a few things and the men and women I coach, who have surrendered themselves to the call of God to work with this generation of teens, deserve more than flip or contrite answers, they deserve understanding.

It’s revealed my how much I need to grow

Thirty years of experience many get me in the door but it’s not the end all be all. I try to enter every session with a heart to learn something new. I have faced many of the situations youth workers have faced but not all of them. I have been challenged to grow personally, spiritually and in my coaching skills.

I don’t have all the answers. Sometimes I have no answers to the challenges I am confronted with but sometimes the people I am coaching don’t need an answer, they don’t need my experience or an anecdote, and that’s ok.

Knowing when to answer and when to just nod my head is one of the biggest areas I am growing in.

My prayers are deeper

I pray at the end of every session and I pray specifically for everything the youth workers and I talked about. Prayer, along with listening, is the most important part of our sessions.

Sometimes problems aren’t solved in 90 minutes. Sometimes both the youth worker and I are exhausted from talking about hard things and in the end we must both hand over the issue to God.

I have limitations, God does not. Putting issues in His hands, resting in His presence and trusting in His will is the right posture to close every session.

God shows up

There have been times where I enter a session drained myself and have felt like I’ve got nothing to offer the youth workers sitting in front of me; but then God shows up in the midst of our conversation.

There is the temptation to trust in what I hav done or think I can offer but then I remember the scripture,

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. – Psalm 20:7

Those whom I coach don’t need another youth ministry tip or trick, the internet is filled with those. They need me to listen to them, hope with them, dream with them, believe in them and love them even when no one else will.

If you’ve been thinking about getting some youth ministry coaching, and don’t mind a fellow flawed human with a lot of experience joining you on your journey, let me encourage you check out the Ministry Minded Coaching Group.

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