1. Student ministry is more about family ministry than about teenage ministry. You have to be willing to serve families and not just hang out with teenagers. One of the top priorities of student ministers should be helping equip parents to raise their children according to the Biblical standards of God’s Word.
2. Balance is key. Regardless of how much time, energy, and resources you put into your ministry, if you are burned out, tired, or stressed out, the ministry will suffer. When you are married, maintaining a healthy balance of time between ministry and your spouse is very important. When you have children you once again need to balance time with your spouse, children, and the ministry. Remember the order of priorities – 1) Relationship with God, 2) My spouse, 3) My children, 4) Ministry. If we take the order and flip it around – something will suffer.
3. Clearly communicate God’s Word and let Him convict. Clear communication of God’s Word is a huge part of student ministry. We must do our part to clearly communicate the truth of God in a relevant way and then let the Holy Spirit convict. A clearly communicated message enables the Spirit to work freely in the lives of those who heard it.
4. Know what you’re talking about. Know what you are going to say, when you are going to say it, and how you are going to express it. Don’t fall into the trap of memorizing a script in order to look like a good communicator. Know your main points, transition points, and illustrations inside and out. Rehearse your message at least once before you ever speak it to a group. This goes for meetings as well. Be prepared.
5. Be passionate about what you teach or just don’t teach it. We all know when someone doesn’t really believe what they are saying. Passion isn’t something you can fake or create. Passion is something that comes from a true conviction over what you are teaching because you have lived it first. Don’t preach a message just because it worked well at another church – be sure you feel lead to preach the message out of personal conviction.
6. Don’t forget the encouragement. This goes for teaching and leadership development. Don’t forget to encourage your congregation and your leadership. So many times we like to preach the convicting messages because we desire to see a response. We must realize that these messages can be damaging if that is all our students hear. Encouraging messages are also very important in helping people live the life God is calling them to.
7. Be transparent/vulnerable. I have learned that people respect what you have to say when they know you’re being real with them. This is a hard thing to do because we feel that we must be an expert at what we are talking about. Being real with people places us on their level and communicates “we are in this together”. We are not experts but we follow the only true expert – point people to Him and let them see you on the journey with them.
8. Student ministry is messy. You will be placed in all types of situations where you will have to make tough decisions – follow God’s leadership and stand firm on your decisions. We must realize that real student ministry is much more than the fun and games we enjoyed as a teenager. Real student ministry involves the real lives of students: cutting, divorce, suicide, addictions, pregnancies, hurts, pains, and so much more. When you are reaching lost people, expect to experience the world of lost people. When ministering to hurting people, expect to experience the world of hurting people. Student ministry is messy. Oh but is it worth it!
9. Pray over everything. Your message, the service, the music, the program, camps, trips, speakers, etc. I am sure I was told that prayer is important but having a top ten list without prayer seems just wrong. Pray about everything and let God lead you as you faithfully listen to His voice.
10. Respect God and His Word. It is easy to get comfortable with God’s Word after you do this for a while. We must remember that this is the all powerful Word of God. Don’t take it lightly. James 3:1 discusses how it’s a huge privilege and responsibility that will incur a stricter judgment upon yourself. Do whatever it takes to no fall into complacency when approaching His Word. Take it seriously.