I've been in youth ministry nearly 13 years, 8 of those years have been spent serving full-time on a church staff. I've had many years where it felt like things just weren't clicking, then I've had years like this one where I look back and think, "Wow, we really had a good year!" Since the Lord allowed me to have one of the most successful years in my ministry, I wanted to pen the things I've learned. So, here we go.
1. Get excited about your facilities and your kids will follow suit. Whether you're meeting in the Taj Mahal or a converted broom closet, try to unlock the hidden potential of your meeting space and do what you can to make it a cool place. Our building before. Our building after some TLC.
2. Go to bat for your program with your trustees or other decision-making people in the church. Many youth programs are treated like red-headed step-children because either people assume youth enjoy things like ugly, worn-out sofas; they assume the youth will just tear up anything new; or they never go to the youth building/room to see what needs to be done. This doesn't just apply to facilities but all aspects of the program.
3. Find the right people in your congregation to help make things happen. No youth worker can do it alone, so find the right people to help you accomplish certain goals. This year, I had help from a church member who was a contractor, as well as our trustees chairman who were able to do some things for us, and parents who were constantly bringing food on a rotating basis.
4. Advertise your program to the congregation. This sounds egotistical, but the more the church knows what you and the youth group are doing that is positive, and spiritually enriching, the more they will support you and the program. Use your newsletters, websites, and if you know how to edit short videos you can run them during the services showing people in about 90 seconds what you and the kids did at your event last week.
5. Stay busy and be visible. It sounds like a political statement, but there is some truth to being visible in the congregation. If you can work from your office, do that, rather than "working at home". For me, this is more productive anyway. If your congregation sees how hard you work, they will support you.
6. Enlist and utilize your volunteers. This one has been beaten to death, but we all know the value of good youth workers.
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