This is my first year in youth ministry…
I just jumped into a new youth ministry role…
What should I do first?
Three Checkpoints for Your First Year in Youth Ministry
Your first year may be the most important year in a new ministry setting. There are often two differing opinions about how best to spend your time during the first twelve months; one popular opinion being to do virtually nothing but observe and learn, and the other being to make significant changes early so people feel your leadership impact early on. Because I think both strategies can be effective, depending on the climate and conditions of the youth group, I want to provide three things you can do regardless of your overall strategy heading into a new youth ministry role.
I say with confidence that these three checkpoints radically impact the length, level of joy, and fruitfulness of your tenure at a new church.
Earn The Trust of Stakeholders
Trust is your biggest form of currency. Earning the trust of parents, elders, volunteers and other key influencers in your church early will help set the stage for a healthy, fruitful experience as a youth worker. Failing to do so almost ensures a short tenure.
Play By Their Rules
As a new arrival, you aren’t going to change the culture, leadership climate, theology, practices and overall vibe of your church. It takes years to build up the equity and trust you need to speak into some of the larger church dynamics, and trying to do so too soon is an easy way to find yourself on the outside looking in.
Succeed At What Matters Most
Not at what YOU think matters most, but what your church thinks matters most! Very early on, you need to determine what your church most values in a youth ministry and deliver the expected results! You may think first-time decisions matter most, but if your church puts a higher value on baptisms, then you should, too. You may think discipleship matters most, but if your church celebrates attendance at your large group gathering, that is what you need to focus on. If you underachieve at what your church feels is the highest priority, you won’t last very long. Conversely, when you hit the marks they want you to hit, you create freedom to do all the other stuff you feel is important.
There’s no secret recipe for early success in a new church setting….but if there was, these three checkpoints would be key ingredients.