I have been coaching a young man for the past year and a half. He’s been a youth pastor for just two years and so I invited him on the podcast to talk about his challenges during these first two years. I hope his “confession” gives you hope and some laughs.
What was your strategy when you first started?
To be honest, I thought I was supposed to do youth ministry the way youth ministry was done for me. I quickly realized that was not going to work, not with this generation of students. After talking with a few youth pastor friends, Here’s where I focused my efforts
I started an adult leadership team, because I knew that I couldn’t do this alone.
I made connecting with parents a priority.
I tapped into my leaders strengths and found roles for them that they were passionate about.
We are a mobile church and I committed to maximizing our space to the fullest.
What were some of the learning hurdles you faced during these past two years?
I’ve had my fair share of challenges and I have to give a lot of credit to my my for her support. One of my biggest hurdles she helped me get over was my habit of doing things myself. She told me,
“You need to delegate, you don’t have to carry this ministry all by yourself.”– Britney
That when I started building a team, finding people’s strengths and delegating. I had to realize that by doing everything myself, I made the ministry about me and that’s not a good plan.
Like I said earlier, trying to do youth ministry the way I had experienced it was a big hurdle. Gen Z was different and the modelI was using just wasn’t going to work.
I was trying to create a model for my student not with my students, so I was spending a lot of energy trying to sell them on a model I created, trying to get buy-in. So, I sat my student leader down and began to ask more questions and listened to how they would like to experience God from week to week.
Listening is the greatest tool a youth pastor tool bag.
Another hurdle I had to face was my inability to be flexible, to go along with leadership or changes that leadership would make that would impact was I was doing in the youth ministry. Left unchecked or unresolved, my hurt feeling led me to being angry or feeling like I wasn’t valued, which wasn’t the case. I had to learn to be flexible.
Devin, what advice would you give youth pastors who re just starting out of find themselves in the midst of their first two years?
The best advice I can give is to understand that you are going to go through seasons. My first six months were a honeymoon phase. Not everyone’s honeymoon phase lasts that long, but mine did, not much after that the rubber met the road and I had to do my job of ministering to students. The pressure came and I began to wonder why I even got into this.
Te newness will wear off, the friction will come but that does not mean you are any less called. I remember coming back from youth camp, this was during the first six months, and thinking about all the time and energy I put into this and how great this was. I asked myself, “what if I put this much effort into every week?” So, may advice would be to put the time and energy and prayer into your weekly ministry like it was youth camp.
The other piece of advice I would offer is to develop a strategy to take care of your own soul because no one is going to do it for you. Take care of your home, your marriage and your family before you take care of the ministry.
As we begin to wrap up, can you share a little with our audience about what you got the most from our coaching sessions?
One of thing I got was a balance of reprimand and encouragement. More encouragement than reprimand, but I think hearing the truth from someone who honestly cared about me and the ministry was pivotal. If you have someone who is always telling you want to hear, you need a knew coach.
Another take away from our sessions was the drive and the motivation to continue. If I did not have a coach like that, following my honeymoon phase, I most likely would have quit. You filled my tank when it was empty and it made a huge difference in how I moved forward.
So, would you recommend other youth workers find a youth ministry coach?
Absolutely. It’s made a huge difference in me and the ministry.
If you’re interested in receiving youth ministry coaching, check out the Ministry Minded Coaching group and see if it’s a fit for you.