For those of you who are in youth ministry right now, what are the things that you would do in your first month of ministry?
The first month is hectic and honeymoonish, so it is tough to do anything effective. I argue that it takes a good year to get your feet wet and two years to start implementing your philosophy and theology.
Top 16 things I would do (or have done) in my first year of youth ministry:
15. Do not make promises you cannot keep. Your word in the first year has more weight and value than you know.
14. Listen…..and do some more listening without pontificating your opinions. You should be doing a lot of shaking your head and saying….uhu….yea……and smiling. Basically stand there and demonstrate the Christian nice.
13. If preaching/teaching is your gift, see if you can preach on a Sunday. Parents and adults need to see how you are around adults and not only with the kiddos.
12. Assessment. What is the church culture like? What are key qualities that define the church? What are the strong values? Who has the power? What families are the most influential? What are the needs of the students?
11. Do not feel that you have to accept every dining invitation.
10. Make a socio-gram. Map out who is friends with who. (both for families and students) The church directory is your friend.
9. Be aware of the parents that want to be your friend right away!
8. Come in with no expectations and expect it will take a good two years to really feel settled. And expect the numbers to drop.
7. Live in the honeymoon stage!!!! Take as many free lunches as possible because the church politics and drama will be coming! You know your honeymoon is over when you start becoming bitter at your church and you have your first confrontation with a staff member.
6. Befriend the church secretary. The church secretary has access to anything and everything in the church. If you win her/him over you are good to go. Yes they are annoying, but get over it. They can be your biggest fan or your worst nightmare.
5. Try to meet weekly with the lead/senior pastor. It is not only a great connection, but it allows for him/her to understand where you are at. You will be able to vent your frustrations.
4. Expect a few kids to tell you why they do not like you and why you are NOT like the old youth pastor. Do not take it personally and get all offended. You are big boy or big girl and you can handle it. Do not start doubting your position and your abilities.
3. Establish very loudly and proudly when your day off will be. We were wired to rest. Yes I know the Fall calendar needs to get done, but it can wait. Tim’s mom will be okay if she receives her fall calendar a week later than last year. Start habits now.
2. Pick your battles. If your battles are about theological issues, get a life. By the way ditch your seminary books no one cares you have the BDAG and NT Wright’s new book, so stop leaving it out on your desk to make yourself look smart and well read. Trust me when someone wants to know what you think about theological matters they will come to you. Your first year is not about proving your theological standing.
1. Get a facebook and make a facebook youth group and upgrade your text messaging plan from 100 to unlimited. Subscribe to TextSignal. TextSignal allows you to send massive text messages to your students in 1 blast. Become tech savvy! And if you need a free i-phone go here.
I love you youth ministry world. You are great. Keep learning and thinking about the Kingdom and more importantly look good for the Kingdom.