Three Ways to Be a Better Youth Pastor
There are many areas in which youth pastors could use some major improvement. I don’t mean this as a knock against the whole of youth ministry, but that personally and individually, we all know where we are weakest. (Bonus tip: If you don’t know where you are weakest, you can be a better youth pastor by figuring out your strengths and weaknesses.)
One thing you’ll almost always see is “reading your Bible more,” and that couldn’t be more true. Connecting with God through both the scriptures and prayer is definitely the best thing you can do for your ministry. But I believe there are also a number of other things we can do to step up our game, and below are three things that I believe lead to better youth ministry.
1. Read more Blogs
The times where I’ve learned the most were the times I was reading the most blogs. I love to read the blogs of other youth pastors because I love reading about what other youth ministries are doing, and it can spark creativity in myself; whether it gets me thinking about an event because of something they did, or its just an event that I think would work in our context and would be awesome.
I also have grown from the community that can be built by regularly reading blogs. I love that there are guys out there that I may have met and hung out with for a few days, and others that I have never met in person, yet we are able to now text each other and really pray with each other. Some of my favorite blogs are ones that aren’t part of the good ol’ boys club, for example, Nick Farr who writes EverythingPastor.com; Ben Kerns, who writes Averageyouthministry.com; and JC Thompson writes JCisonline.com.
I was going to make it a separate point, but I also believe that writing a blog leads to growth. Even if no one reads it, forcing yourself to write out why you do the things you do in youth ministry really sparks growth, at least for me. I only have a handful of people read my weekend in review posts, but I don’t write those for others, I write those for myself, and I love it.
2. Read Leadership Books
Read your Bible, read books on theology, but challenge yourself to grow as a leader and learn from other leaders. Whether we like it or not, youth pastors are leaders. We don’t always act like it; we don’t always get treated like it. But if our ministry is going to be as effective as it can and should be, we need to be Leaders. I try and read five books on leadership a year and I’d have to say my favorite one right now is Axiom by Bill Hybels. I highly encourage you to both check it out and get into more Leadership books.
3. Take Time Off
One of the areas I am failing right now is being able to unplug. Moving to a new ministry, trying to overcome expectations that were placed on me from a previous church that aren’t here now, and just the transition as a whole has really had me going at full speed for the last several months. I need to be able to take a break with my wife and get away for even just a night where I don’t bring my laptop or cell phone, I don’t check twitter or read a blog, or even think about youth ministry.
We all need those times where we are able to just celebrate the fact that we are alive. And to be a better youth pastor we need to have times that intentionally remind us that we are more than just youth pastors. It’s so easy to get so wrapped up in youth ministry that we forget how to be children of God. We have to have those times, and I’m not just talking about one day a week where we don’t go to the office. I mean really getting away for a few hours. I know that youth pastors don’t get paid much so it seems impossible to get away for a night. But this is one of the best investments you can make in your marriage, in your ministry, and in your life.
So those are my three tips for being a better youth pastor. What tips would you add?
This article “Three Ways to Be a Better Youth Pastor” by Kevin Smith was excerpted from: www.youthministry.com web site. December 2011. It may be used for study & research purposes only.
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.”