One of the hallmarks of relational youth ministry is being available when someone has a need. When a parent is in crisis, when someone has an emergency, when there’s a relationship falling apart—each of these are times when students and families need you most.

This week we thought it might be good to talk about boundaries and principles to make sure you handle this important aspect of youth ministry in a way that helps those you serve without burning yourself out.

Build a great team of people who care.

If you’re alone doing ministry, you will fail. Sharing the load not only empowers volunteers to lead and use their gifts, it also allows you to multiply your care across the ministry. And few things wear on a youth worker like crisis management, so ensure you have energy for the big stuff by sharing the load on some of the smaller stuff!

2 Days Left to SAVE BIG on SYMC 2013!

Care when there isn’t a crisis.

There’s nothing better than stopping by a student’s house “just because” or a dropping a simple card in the mail that conveys your love for them. Think of this as “preventative care” for your students—even when they aren’t in a crisis they know you care.

Drop everything in an emergency.

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell when something is truly an emergency but when a major crisis or catastrophe hits, drop everything to be there. When you show up in a difficult situation it will be remembered forever. The opposite is also true: If you don’t show up, it’s a huge mark on your reputation as a shepherd as well.

Just be there.
It isn’t always easy to know what to say—even when people look at you like you should. Don’t underestimate the power of the “be with” factor. Sit with them. Do more than just offer to help with whatever they need—everyone does that and it means you’re going to do nothing. Jump in and help or just get there and be present. And, quietly organize others to do the same.

2 Days Left to SAVE BIG on SYMC 2013!

Make sure there’s a plan in place when you leave.

You need time off and regularly established boundaries, so make sure you set up a system of care while you’re away. Crises don’t plan their vacation schedule according to yours, so make sure there’s a simple process in place for care until you get back. As always, you need to make sure you’re in a good place to help others so never apologize for taking care of yourself and your family; just make sure you show up when you get back.

What other relational ministry tips would you have about being available?


  • Lisa Lochrie says:

    Hi guys..
    I’m a mom who used to do youth ministry and I enjoy your emails. One of the most disappointing experiences I’ve had was having a crisis with my son and having the youth leader show up, but then never follow up afterwards. They made it to the crisis, but never called later to see how my son was doing or to offer to get together with him. Feeling like a “project” instead of someone who is cared for was a big turn off for my son, and for us as parents. Make sure that after the crisis is over you are still caring for the person…
    God bless you for all you do

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