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10 Things this Youth Minister Wants You to Know.

So, every couple of months, a listicle from varying authors appears on my Facebook news feed. Most recently it appeared as this one. Many times this listicle speaks from the perspective as someone who is ordained/clergy. I have worked in churches or parachurch organizations for the past 16 years, and I am not clergy. There is a lot of crossover, but there are also differences as well. I thought about it, and I wrote my own listicle. 
(Fun Fact: Spell Check recognizes listicle as a real word.) 

1. Yes, this is my real job, and no, I am not called to be a pastor. 
There are many folks who work in youth ministry as lay staff, who go on to seminary to become pastors. There are also many of us who are called to being a lay minister. I am not called to ordained ministry. I do see my position as a Youth Minister as a calling. I went to seminary with no intention of ever being a pastor.  
2. The church is changing. 
Just like every field, the church has changed drastically since I started in youth ministry. The church as changed a lot since I graduated from seminary almost 10 years ago. The image of church that we have in our mind’s eye is not reality, and isn’t coming back. Most families need both parents to work to make ends meet, so volunteering for things is much harder. Some parents/guardians are working multiple jobs, making things even harder to get to church as well. 
3. Loud Church is an Alive Church
Jesus said, “Let the children come unto me.” He did not make a caveat that the children did not have to sit perfectly still or quiet. Let children be children. So, sometimes our younger friends need to walk or twirl in the aisle or in the back, or color or work on a crossword puzzle. Sometimes, our friends need to take a minute outside of the worship space and come back when they’re ready. This may mean that there is a bunch of action, but this means that children are participating in the life of the church. 
4. Parents/Guardians are the #1 example of the faith, and I need your help. 
Said another way, Faith is Caught more than it is Taught. (Paul Hill and David Anderson
There are 168 hours in a week. I see your kids anywhere between 1-4 hours a week (2 hours is 3.3% of the week). This leaves all the other hours for school, sleep, and activities. Parents/Guardians can model faith in the home, like praying before meals and before bed. Before bed, read a story bible as a part of the nighttime ritual. The simple act of making church a priority is huge. Many other ideas can be found HERE
5. I love my youth deeply. When my people hurt, I hurt. I beam with pride in their accomplishments, too.  
This world is hard. When I hear about what happens in school to the youth in my midst, I cry. My heart just aches, and sometimes it’s really hard to face the world. 
When my youth breaks their personal best running, I am so proud. When my youth stop to care for each other, I beam with pride. 
6. Retreats/Lock-ins/Service Learning Trips are not vacations. 
I have a bunch of fun when I take youth on service learning trips. It’s one of my favorite things to do. It’s also super stressful, because I am responsible for keeping them safe. I don’t sleep well on any of those trips. Leading trips with youth is a 24 hour job during that time. I need some extra time off after that to recover. 
7. Spoiler alert: I struggle with my faith. 
A few weeks ago, I was listening to the sermon during Sunday worship, and heard one of our youth make a sound, which reminded me that I needed to talk to their dad about the leak in the nursery bathroom. It took me a minute to refocus. This is one example of many. I am a better human and leader if I take time to take care of myself, and part of that is nurturing my own faith. Part of my day off is spent in prayer. I try to take advantage of the mid-week services in my area, but it doesn’t always happen. I suffer if I don't intentionally do these things. 
8. Youth are leaders in church not just chair movers. 
Many times I have been asked, “Can the youth set up the chairs for....?” At one church I worked at, the youth were asked to set up chairs weekly for different things happening at the church (and things that the youth weren’t invited to). There are other ways that youth can be leaders in the church, like ushering and reading in church, and not just as the set up crew.
9. Youth Ministry is not an individual sport.
Not everyone is cut out to sleep on the floor of a school for a week, or lead Sunday School. We are all gifted for things and ALL of those things are needed in Youth Ministry. The biggest thing the youth need is the support of the congregation. Maybe you aren’t called to teach Sunday School, but you can help with food during a youth event. We can all say hi to youth after worship, and thank them for being a leader in worship. 
10. This is the best job ever. 
I get to help nurture the faith of Jesus’ Little Ones. I get to facilitate service projects for youth to serve the least of these. I get to watch youth learn how to be leaders in the church….and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

I'm sure I will think of more.....Here's a start. 


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