12 Things We Love and Hate About Youth Ministry

12 Things We Love and Hate About Youth Ministry
Doug Fields & Matt McGill

In this day and age, people are usually stressed and borderline psycho during a time when they should be slow and reflective. The pace quickens: Christmas parties, visiting family, special church services, and last minute shopping. Everything seems more urgent.

With a little intentionality, this season can become a natural time to reflect on the important things in life. So, instead of singing the 12 days of Christmas (which we would love to do, but you would hate it), we thought we’d share 12 things we love about youth ministry:

1. Youth Ministry is fun! How often do you see the ushers or senior pastors playing red rover while blindfolded?

2. Youth Ministry makes a real difference for the Kingdom. Teenagers are not the church of the future; they are the church of TODAY.

3. Youth Ministry helps students connect to their passion. Students are old enough to be discovering WHAT MOVES THEM, but not yet old enough to be dulled by disappointment and lulled into apathy.

4. Youth Ministry is direct. Teenagers often speak their mind even if it’s not polite or acceptable…which we find refreshing.

5. Youth Ministry attracts fun people, and it’s great to be serving alongside the most fun people in the church.

6. Youth Ministry is strategic. The decisions teenagers make during adolescence have implications for the rest of their life.

7. Youth Ministry is catalytic. Students can be quick to take risks and rise to challenges without a lot of excuses or “experience” that holds them back.

8. Youth Ministry lasts longer than pop culture. When teenagers return from college to volunteer in youth ministry you can both laugh at their fading fads.

9. Youth Ministry is a constant stream of blessings. We all know the secret: working with teenagers produces fruit in our own lives. Sometimes it’s so great doing youth ministry that we feel guilty for calling it “ministry!”

10. Youth Ministry lasts longer than the annoying students. You can outlast them because they will eventually graduate from your ministry. It’s okay, you can be thankful for that reality, we’re just keeping it real!

11. Youth Ministry “feeds” students who are so hungry to know Jesus.

12. Youth Ministry is unpredictable. CHAOS: anytime and anywhere and anything can happen. It’s fun and exciting and often painful.

12 Things We Hate About Youth Ministry

Serving in youth ministry is great, but sometimes we allow our priorities to get mixed up and give it more than we should. When the needs of the ministry consume and devour our lives, and it results in no margin, no accountability, and no joy…it’s time to change things. Here are some of the warning signs, 12 things we hate about youth ministry:

1. Fatigue can result in poor leadership decisions. This season, get some rest!

2. The nagging feeling that we may have given up too early on that one high maintenance kid.

3. Overload leads to taking short cuts and doing what’s easy rather than doing what is best (or right).

4. Sometimes we’re tempted to skim in our spiritual lives since people really don’t know if we skip our personal devotions.

5. We can take criticism personally and use it as a club to beat our self up.

6. We believe the lie that our ministry is the most important one in the church. We become territorial and build high walls around youth ministry within the church.

7. Insecurities and fears feed one another until they’re consuming. While cocooned, we rest on our laurels, refuse to take risks, and become satisfied with the way things are.

8. Our drive to be faithful and grow the ministry can move us from honest persuasion to manipulation.

9. We feel like unsung heroes, wallow in self pity, and then feel guilty for having a need to be affirmed.

10. We get confused or indignant when other leaders seem to love the ministry as much as we do.

11. We let success feed the self-deception that says, “I did this on my own power…or…I can do this on my own power.”

12. The pressure to perform and please others distracts us from trusting God.

Now is a great time to step back and remember the important things in life: God’s love for us is unchanging, uncompromising, and unconditional. He loves our students more than we do and is working within to draw us closer.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”

This article “12 Things We Love and Hate about Youth Ministry” by Doug Fields & Matt McGill was excerpted from: www.simplyyouth.org web site. January 2011. It may be used for study & research purposes only.

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