5 Big Questions: Part 4
- How can I successfully come into an already established youth program and take over? How can I replace a youth ministry without the ministry suffering?
This is a great and tricky question to answer, because it’s a bit based on you, your personality, and what kind of established program you stepped into. If the transition was good and healthy and things are moving along, then I would start by watching, asking questions, and listening to how they do things. However, if it’s been messy, unhealthy, and/or broken, then you may need to act sooner and implement change because you just can’t wait. Regardless of the situation, I think the healthy approach is to find the middle between who you are and who they are. Every pastor will leave an imprint on the program; it’s bound to happen. Not every imprint is bad, and in the same way, new imprints are also not bad. Everyone knows things will be different, but you don’t need to be different just for difference’s sake.
- Why do most youth pastors burn out within a year of signing on?
Honestly, I think there are two reasons, and they come from what I’ve seen over 18 years of ministry.
The first is that they really have no clue what a youth pastor actually does. They think it’s all events and they don’t see the administration, schedules, parent calls, and late night freak-outs. Often, their internship is an over-glorified volunteer leader position, and not actually a safe taste of real youth ministry.
The second one is tougher, and I don’t say this lightly, but I think the big reason is that they are actually not called into ministry. I’ve seen so many people think it would be fun to be a youth pastor only to bail when it gets hard. All that time and money at school seems to be washed away with the first road bump, and I think it comes down to calling. If you’re called, your IN, period. There are no questions nor doubts. The natural question is, “How do you know if you’re called?” and that’s a hard one to answer, but if I could try, I would say someone who is called can’t imagine doing or being anywhere else. It doesn’t mean they will always be happy or like it, but no matter what happens, they’re not going anywhere.
- What is the most fulfilling aspect of doing youth ministry?
For me, the two great joys of being a pastor are getting to baptize students (that 100% never gets old) and seeing a leadership student pass on what they have learned to the next generation, without your prompting.
- What are some things to look for when selecting a church to be a youth pastor for?
Here is my list of questions to ask the church in no particular order:
- Is your church budget heathy?
- How will you help meet/protect my family life?
- What’s your vision for the youth group?
- Where are you headed as a church?
- What are
- your 3 biggest strengths and weaknesses as a church?
- Has the Sr. Pastor ever mentored someone?
- What will my compensation package look like?
- Can I ask 3 students and 3 leaders about this youth group?
- What are some of the necessary characteristics of a successful communicator to youth?
Outside of their actual ability to speaking, one must hold some level of student attention. I think the most important thing to look for is authenticity. I’ve watched students time and time again lose interest in the “perfect speaker” because they come across as perfect. When you stand up in front of kids and are just yourself, the same you as when your off stage, that’s when you get their attention. Authenticity breeds attention. The question is, now that you have their attention, what are you going to do with it?
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