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KurtJohnston

Kurt Johnston has been a youth pastor since 1988 and currently leads the student ministries team at Saddleback Church in Southern California. Widely regarded as one of the most trusted voices in youth ministry, Kurt loves to encourage other youth workers and has written and created over 50 books and resources with that goal in mind. In his free time, Kurt enjoys surfing and riding dirt bikes in the desert with his wife and two children.

Today as we continue our series on ministerial intelligence, I’d like to focus on the “practices” of youth ministry; the things you do. In short, the practices, or things you do, include the daily nuts and bolts of youth ministry, the stuff youth ministry is made of. Much has been written about what to do, how to do it and why or why not. In fact I wrote a book a few years ago called, The 9 Best Practices of Youth Ministry which attempted to help youth workers figure out what stuff matters most (Are there really exactly NINE best practices? Probably not. And were the ones I listed really the BEST practices? Who knows, for sure.).

Over the years, it’s become fairly apparent to me that although no two churches are the same (we talked about that last week), there do seem to be a few practices virtually every church expects it’s Youth Pastor to be proficient at. Recognizing these, and “performing” at the level your particular church expects is a key component of ministerial intelligence. Here are a few:

GETTING TEENAGERS TO SHOW UP: Churches are in the business or reaching people. And a church that decides to have a youth group as part of it’s menu of ministries expects teenagers to show up.  That’s universal. Knowing how many are expected, at what events, etc. falls under the previous category of The Place because expectations vary from place to place.

KEEPING THE TRUST OF PARENTS

If parents are for you, who can be against you? If parents are against you, it rarely matters who is for you.

CREATING EFFECTIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS

Churches expect the youth pastor to be able to find or create lessons, teach, etc.  They assume you are educating the students who attend church.

RELATING TO STUDENTS

Your church may not know how to quantify this expectation, but it exists. They expect their youth pastor to understand and “relate” to teenagers. If you have the reputation of liking teenagers and being liked by them, this will typically satisfy your church’s expectations.

UTILIZING VOLUNTEERS

You and I may use phrases like “building a team” or “developing leaders” but most churches aren’t looking that closely at your youth ministry. As long as you are getting other adults to help out, your church won’t know (or usually even care) about whether it’s a healthy team of servant leaders (sorry).

I think these are the universal practices expected by virtually every church on the globe. Obviously I left off a TON of things that most of us would deem as extremely important but I did so because in my experience those things aren’t what every church cares about. Whether or not the numerous other youth ministry practices are a crucial part of success in your setting relies on your understanding of The Place in which you serve (see last week’s article).

Agree? Disagree? What would you add to this list? How have you seen paying attention to or neglecting one of these areas effect you in your setting?  Share with us in the comments!

1 COMMENT

  • Tyler says:

    I think relating to students is super important. Some churches care only about the number of students who show up, but there is something special about the relationships built with students and in my opinion it is the relationships that will keep students coming back, rather than program.

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