In and during my student ministry experience, I was always asking the question of: What can I be doing to keep up and keep my sanity? Here were the 3 things I always did in order to make sure I was growing and trying new stuff in the student ministry trenches.
1) Self-Experimentation and Observation
Hopefully your church gives you permission to experiment. If not, you can always ask for forgiveness. : ) In order to see if something works or not, you have to try it. Youth pastors come across a ton of ideas and content that tends to stay at our desks. My point: Try all of them, observe, and decide what you like. It is essential to assess how the idea is valuable or worthless. I am a pragmatist. I like matter of fact ways of thinking that work in student ministry. Honestly, I spent a lot of time “thinking” about stuff in student ministry that doesn’t translate very well in trenches in student ministry. I found that one needs to constantly experiment and figure out what he/she liked and did not like. The risk is failure, but the gain is learning a lot.
2) Keep a log
Write what you are experiencing down! Get disciplined to record what you are encountering, feeling, and thinking. See your life in student ministry as a story. Keep a narrative book about what God is teaching you and what you are encountering in your youth ministry. In addition, it is so fun to track the types of season you go through in a 12 month period. In my experience I found that I generally go through the same 5-8 emotions, thoughts, and experiences within a given year. I found myself having many “repeats.” I reminded that my sanctification proces runs at very slow speeds (sorry God!). It make sense why history always repeats itself.
Mark Twain said:
The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.
Ministry is tough and we tend to get in ruts where we take ourselves, our youth ministries, our students, our staff, our church, our teachings, our volunteers, and our parents way too seriously! If you cannot laugh at yourself and your situation you are missing out on a very comical experience. Laughter loosens everything up which allows you to really see a bigger perspective. Take laughter wherever you go, especially into church staff meetings. Trust me there are some church leaders that need to just laugh.