Youth Ministry Essentials


Unfortunately a blog title like this carries with it the potential to have readers feeling like I know it all and have it all together in ministry.  I want to start out by making a personal acknowledgement – I do NOT know everything I need to know about ministry and I would never go so far as to claim I don’t make mistakes.  I will, however, use the ten years that I have been involved in youth ministry to write about some of the essentials that I have identified that have helped me lead a ministry that is making an impact in my region.  Today will begin a week-long series where I will share some of the things that have helped me thrive in youth ministry for over ten years.

In a live youth ministry conversation hosted by Tim Schmoyer a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to share some of these qualities that grow a youth ministry.  As our conversation was coming to an end one person asked the question, “If there was one sentence or one word that could sum up the longevity and growth that you have experienced in your ministry, what would that be?”  My response came quicker than I thought it would.  The answer just rolled out so naturally.  Balance.  Balance is essential for any leader.  Balance in life and balance in ministry.    

Balance for me begins at home.  I must be making my family a top priority, second only to my relationship with God, in order to lead a successful ministry.  If my life is out of balance I will not have the focus that I need to lead a growing, successful youth ministry.  One measuring stick that I use in this area is to listen to my kids.  When I hear my daughters asking for more time with me I know that I have spent too much time away from home.  When this happens I try to act as quickly as possible to regain balance in my schedule.

One common trait that can be an asset in ministry but also be a hindrance is the desire to help people.  I, for far too long, was a yes-man.  If something needed to be done I would be the one to offer to make it happen.  If someone needed help with a project I would run to assist.  Oftentimes in our desire to help people we fall out of balance in our lives and something suffers.  It didn’t take me too long to realize that if anything should suffer due to time constraints it should be my ministry.  

Andy Stanley, in his book Choosing to Cheat, speaks of the non-negotiable that we all need to hold firm to.  With only 24 hours in each day, we simply can’t fit everything in. And what we choose to cheat is a clear announcement of our values. When you come home an hour earlier, miss a round of golf, or let the dishes sit while you play with your child, you make your family feel valued and secure.  My family will tell you that this makes all the difference in the world.  Balance in my time assures me that my daughters will not grow to resent the church or God for stealing me away from them.

When life is out of balance we become stressed over things that really don’t deserve the emphasis we put on them.  When life is out of balance we feel rushed.  When life is out of balance we begin to feel as though there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done that needs to be completed.  One of the most freeing things I have learned is that there is always tomorrow.  The project can sit on my desk overnight and I will get back to it the next day.  There will always be another person to call, another task on the to-do list, and another email to read.  Put a period at the end of each day.  Leave the office at a scheduled time.  If you have to, make a dinner appointment in your calendar each night.  If you live and die by your day planner then add in an extra meeting each day with your family.  Make that a “can’t miss” appointment and never feel bad about telling someone else that wants to meet with you that you are not available during that time.

By setting your life in balance you will achieve longevity in your ministry and everyone will benefit.  Longevity breeds influence.  Influence brings change.  Change is why Jesus came to this world.

3 responses to this post.

  1. […] Elemente für die Jugendarbeit: 1,2,3,4,5 + das Ganze geht bis Teil […]


  2. […] Elemente für die Jugendarbeit: 1,2,3,4,5 + das Ganze geht bis Teil […]


  3. Posted by Melanie on January 5, 2009 at 11:06 am

    AMEN!! AMEN!! AMEN!! We’ve seen toooo many pastor’s kids (or very involved church member’s kids) hurt by the parents having time to give to everyone else but them…..



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