In this final installment of the this three-part series on being a professional youth minister, I want to take a look at what makes someone a “pro” youth minister. What does a “pro” youth minister do well? Professional athletes do things that others cannot and therefore are the elite players of their sport. What things does a pro youth minister do that make him or her an elite youth minister?
We’ve all seen the youth ministry job posting that describe a superhuman person that can do everything (and who does not exist). When I think of elite youth ministers, superhuman people do not come to mind; instead, a pro youth minister is someone who can DO the things vital to youth ministry well.
Here is my list of five things that pro youth ministers do:
Pro youth ministers are relational. They can connect to youth. They have natural ability or have honed their skill in developing relationships with teenagers. But they do not stop there; they have learned to connect with parents and others in the congregation. Even introverts can learn to do this with practice.
Pro youth ministers inspire youth and volunteers to live for Christ. They share their love for God in a way that encourages and invites others to join them. They can do this in quiet or vocal ways. They can make public affirmations or write notes of encouragement. Whatever method they use, their heart for God shines through for others to see. Their trust and faith in God allows them to imagine and inspire a future that is different from their current reality.
Pro youth ministers engage others in discipleship. They do it in a variety of ways: through teaching and preaching, through service and mission, over coffee or on a bus. They can create moving worship experiences. I don’t mean that they are good at engaging others in all of these ways, but they have their developed methods for engaging others in faith practices that form disciples.
Pro youth ministers are present. Even if they have 500 youth in their youth groups, they know how to stop running around being busy and be present with a youth, parent, or volunteer in their time of need. Pro youth ministers are not aloof. They visit youth and families in the hospital and in the lunch room. They know their youth and understand that how they love their youth will be remembered long after every lesson has been forgotten.
Pro youth ministers realize that youth ministry is a team sport. They build a team to share the responsibility of leading the ministry. They have a clear sense of where the youth ministry is to go and they work with their team to create systems and ministries that will accomplish those purposes. They are a leader to leaders as they encourage and equip others for ministry. They know their strengths and weaknesses and have built a team that helps them shore up their shortcomings.
Youth ministers do a great many things. These are the five things that great youth ministers seem to have in common. These pro youth ministers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and with different gifts and skills, but they have learned how to do these things that are at the heart of youth ministry.
What other characteristics have you seen in the pro youth ministers that you know?
We are hearing from numerous youth ministers that during this season their plate is just too full. Caring for others is a ministry staple, but often it comes at the expense of caring for oneself. Self care for the Youth MInister is so important. If you don’t take time for yourself and your own relationship with God, not only will you suffer, but eventually your students will too.
We’ve created a Pandemic Youth Week curriculum bundle that combines elements of both a summer camp and a youth week. Many youth are missing out on both of these due to cancelled camps and trips among other cancelled important events your youth would usually attend. We’ve written this curriculum such that it can be used in person while socially distancing, online, or some combination of both.
Despite all the challenges the pandemic has presented to youth ministries, it has also created an opportunity to allow youth more involvement in worship. Although youth sunday will look very different this year, it is a great opportunity to empower our youth to be leaders. Youth’s comfort and familiarity with technology make them a great resource for churches who are seeking to move their worship services online for the first time.