Tips for Youth Group Leaders
There’s no higher calling than leading young people to Jesus. It’s an honor and joy that few people will ever know. Youth group leaders have the opportunity to spend time with teens in a safe environment, challenging them to live boldly for Christ.
• Ensure that Jesus is the central figure in your ministry.
• Invest your time wisely. Because youth ministry is all about investing time in people, make smart decisions about guarding and investing your time. Teens need significant adults in their lives more than ever.
• Sharpen your sword. You must stay spiritually fit. Surround yourself with excellence, and value those who know more than you. Have your senior pastor or co-leaders keep you accountable.
• Multiply yourself. Healthy youth ministries have a perpetual flow of volunteers. Investing your time in these people will make a huge difference in your ministry. Recruit leaders for a six-year term. Ask them to stay with the same kids from 7th through 12th grade.
• Learn to listen for the story. When you understand a teen-ager’s life experiences, you’ll be closer to understanding his or her behavior.
• Give your spouse space. Don’t let your church expect your spouse to co-minister to teens unless he or she is called to it.
• Keep the home fires burning. Don’t ever neglect your family for your ministry.
• Be a team player. Even if you work harder than any other staff member, insist on projecting a team spirit – and honor those you’re privileged to serve beside.
• Exceed expectations. When you lead with this attitude, people notice, admire, and follow. Guard your reputation.
• Diversify your life experiences. Find a hobby unrelated to ministry that brings you in contact with people outside your ministry world. Read books that have nothing to do with youth ministry.
• Don’t reinvent the wheel. Network with other youth ministers you admire. Ask for permission to use their ideas. Most will consider this an honor. Wait four or five years to repeat an activity. Determine to develop new material.
• File your ideas. When you read a book or article, mark the stories, quotes, and statistics you want to keep, then copy them on 3×5 cards and file them by topic.
• Blend your teens into the church. Avoid the trap of isolating your kids from their church family. Time outside of the corporate body is essential, but too much creates a damaging disconnection.
• Befriend your kid’s parents. Discover the blessing of close relationships with the parents. See them as partners, not adversaries.
• Have a community presence. Your ministry should thrive outside your church walls. Help coach a softball team, volunteer at the school library, or tutor a child.
• Don’t play favorites. Let kids and parents know they’re all equally important to you.
• Be transparent. Because kids can see through hypocrisy and insincerity like tissue paper, you have no choice but to be real.
• Prepare a safety net. You need a plan for almost every scenario – pregnancy, rape, suicide, murder, abuse, and so on. Ask key professionals in your church to help you design a plan for youth group emergencies.
• Ask God to confirm your call. If God calls you out of youth ministry, follow Him. If he calls you to stay, draw strength from that affirmation.
• Choose your emergencies. Ask your church to pay for a second phone line at your home that’s just for youth ministry calls. Screen calls with an answering machine – respond only to emergencies and handle the rest at your office.
• Don’t fall into the trap of feeling you must entertain your kids or they’ll go someplace else. Challenge them with service and mission trips.
• Treat teens as worthy of your confidence and trust. Don’t underestimate their ability or desire to live boldly and honestly for Jesus.
• Never, ever, make a young person the butt of a joke.
• Pray bold prayers. Teach your teens how to pray and give them lots of practice time.
• Be a friend to your teens, but never compromise your ministry to be liked by them. You may be the only significant adult in their lives who will speak to them about Jesus.
The article “Tips for Youth Group Leaders” written by Lee Milame was excerpted from www.GroupPublishing.com , July 2009.