To excel at something, you constantly have to evaluate. What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong? What can I improve upon? Below are five specific questions all youth ministers (including myself) should be asking, at least on a yearly, if not monthly and daily basis.
1. Am I Still Effective? Let’s be honest, it’s about Jesus and His power to save, not ours. But all too often we are not looking at our own strategies, programs, and attitude in ministry as being effective enough to reach kids with the Gospel message. Is your heart just not in it anymore? Are you finding yourself saying “those stinkin’ kids” more and more? Do you dread teaching class or planning youth events? Then you might be burnt out, and burnt out ministers aren’t effective.
2. Am I Communicating Well? Communication in any relationship is key, and communication in youth ministry is no exception. I would venture to say that you need to communicate more effectively with parents and with the leadership of the church than anyone else, including the kids in your group. Do you use more than three forms of advertising for events? Do you send out emails informing parents of upcoming meetings and activities? I’ve found that you can never have too much information out there for parents and kids to see. There’s so much information being thrown at them that sometimes you have to be insistent about making sure they know about the events and activities. Communication is in and of itself a full-time job. You must constantly working at it.
3. Am I Focusing On My Work? Something I’m struggling with is side projects. Speaking engagements, blogging and writing, and other things. How much am I focused on my work? Meaning: how much am I focused on being a youth minister and not a preacher? Or speaker? Or writer? Or getting another degree? We can easily get wrapped up in the busyness of what we’ve been asked to do and not focus on what we were hired to do. I am very fortunate that the Elders at the congregation I work for have allowed me to fully focus on the youth. They don’t ask me to coordinate education duties, preach, or do too much outside of my youth focus. The kids and their parents need you to be focused on the youth group.
4. Am I Taking Time Off? Right now, I have 5 ½ days left on the books to take off this year, with just over 40 calendar days left to do it. If you get to mid-December and you have 12 days left to take off, you’re doing something wrong. TAKE YOUR TIME OFF. You need it, and your family needs it. If you rate a day off during the week and can’t remember the last time you actually had that day off, you’re doing it wrong. Take your time off. The work will be there to do when you get back.
5. Am I Christ-centered? The most important question you should ask, and this one should be asked every day. Firstly, are you taking care of your own spiritual needs and feeding your own spiritual appetite, and second - are you teaching the Gospel to the kids in your group? In youth ministry, everything we do should be to get kids to come to Christ. If that’s not our objective, we need to do some earnest thinking about just what it is that we're doing.
What about you? What questions do you think youth ministers should be asking. Sound off in the comments.