Things that I wish that I had of known when I started Youth Ministry blog postAs I grow in our student ministry, there are many things that I am learning now that I did not know when I started out. Here are several things that I wish that I had of known when I started out in student ministry:

  • It is important to have Parent-Involvement– When I began youth ministry, I had no parent leaders. I had no parents attending events, and very little parent involvement whatsoever. I would have been much more effective and Biblical if I had of had the parents on board from the start. Get parents involved in leadership, events, ideas, etc. Then, spend time building relationships with the parents and equipping them to do their job as a parent.
  • It is important to recruit and develop adult leaders– I did most of the ministry early on by myself, but I had people wanting to get more involved, and I did not use them in their full capacity like I should have. The ceiling would have raised even higher if I had of allowed others to lead and take ownership.
  • Small groups are essential to effective youth ministry– We did not have small groups when I started, and now, I could not imagine doing youth ministry without them. They build community, but it is the best model and means of discipleship that I have seen.
  • Developing student leaders will strengthen your ministry– We had some decent students when I first began in youth ministry, but if I had of given them more of a leadership role, our youth ministry would have been a lot stronger spiritually. We have experienced certain years of not having student leaders, and then years of having student leaders, and the years we have student leaders are always better and stronger.
  • Integrating them into the local church is the best way to keep them when they graduate– segregating the youth ministry and the church is not smart AT ALL. We did not segregate, but we did not have our student involved in the church as much as we could have. We should have encouraged choir involvement, ushering, media, etc in the local church more, and we could have kept more students connected to the church when they left high school.

Question: What is something that you know now that you wish you knew when you started in student ministry?

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14 thoughts on “Things I wish that I had of known when I started in Student Ministry

  1. Josh, I have been following your blog for about a year now, and I spent three years in Winston-Salem while I was studying for my Mdiv. My question is how did you implement small groups to a church who has never had them before?

    1. Honestly, that is a very difficult question. Here is how I would go about it. Find a few good leaders to be your small group leaders. Spend time personally training them on what a small group is first. Take them to a conference or bring someone in to train them. Give them a good book on small groups to read. Show them from other models what small groups look like. This takes time by the way. Then, inform the parents about your small group direction. Inform the students as well. Then, launch them at a certain date. They can become at first more of a prayer group, but then it can become a discipleship small group. It takes time, but over time, I do believe that you will see this being the best way to disciple students in today’s culture.

      BTW: Did you go to Piedmont?

      JE

  2. Great post…the last one is HUGE. It’s also one that took me a while to learn. When I first started as a volunteer, I would sometimes skip church with teenagers and take them to breakfast. Relational? Maybe. But the message was that being a part of their local church was not a priority as long as they went to youth group on Sunday night.

  3. Great read! You addressed one idea I am struggling on doing – that is student leadership. Was it something formal? How did you do it? Also, did you use a “student committee” as a means of getting parents involved or..?

    Thanks!!

    1. Lance,

      I had each person (9-12 grades) who were interested in signing up for student leadership fill out an application. I had to approve it. Then, they had a list of expectations that they had to meet to stay on the team. Then, we started meeting at my house once a month. We discuss vision, we discuss event planning, and discuss what we can do better. We also talk a lot about what leadership is and what leadership is not. You have to stay on top of this though throughout the year.

      As for parent involvement. I started a parent newsletter right away. This informs but equips. I would put a youth culture or teen parenting article to help them pertaining to a current struggle that they might be having. Then, I would meet with them every quarter for information, but also a time of discussion. It became a safe haven where parents would share their struggles and receive encouragement. I also open up every service and activity for parents to attend.

      Hope this helps you. I am still wrestling with a few things regarding these issues. I am learning as I go 🙂 Good luck bro.

      JE

  4. I have for four years now being involve with youth ministry and all I have done is evangelize students, equip them to be leaders and empower them to evangelize and equip their peers. I have struggle with getting parents on board but I have done one thing that has work so well with impacting students. Besides the small groups we have in homes, schools and orphanages, the recruitment of students leaders we have always done a weekend encounter service/ youth alive service. I realized only an encounter with Christ will change the lives of students. A time where all the small groups leaders, and students gather for worship, testimony , Holy Ghost baptism and charge from one of the students. This has being so wonderful a experience that young people always want to come again and again.

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