It’s hard to believe that I’ve been out of the student ministry world for a year and half now. 11 years in full time Student Ministry. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those pastors who says “I would never go back” “I’m glad to be out”… Nope, not me! I LOVE STUDENT MINISTRY! I didn’t view student ministry as a stepping stool to the big time senior pastor job.
I miss the awkward conversations, Lock-ins, dealing with parents, watching a student get it.
I sat down the other night as kinda a “look back” over the last 11 years in SM and I wrote down a few things that I learned (Some the hard-way) and made a list. If you are new to student ministry/youth groups (whatever you call it) maybe you are looking for some insight maybe these few things will help guide you. Here is a list of things I wish someone would have told me before I started.
1. Students matter to God and warrant our efforts to extend the gospel to them.
2. The gospel of Jesus Christ must be presented in a way that is relevant to the culture of middle school students (Eph. 6:18,19) as well as high school students
3. Evangelism is a process and is best accomplished within the context of relationships. Not your sermon one night a week.
4. There are various levels of spiritual interest and Christian commitment among students.
5. Effective student ministry is done through the development of real relationships between believers and non-churched students.
6. Student ministry done with excellence reflects God and attracts students.
7. Student ministry is to be reviewed and evaluated for real effectiveness. CONSTANTLY! Just because it worked “that one time” don’t think it will work again!
8. Student ministry should be built on the team principle–not on the gifts of one individual.
9. Every student, once they become a Christian, is capable of and should be involved in the work of building God’s Kingdom.
10. Invest in Middle Schoolers. I say it again INVEST IN MIDDLE SCHOOLERS! (In 10 years when you have strong lasting relationship you can thank me)
11. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” A student would rather hear you say that than tell them a crap answer!
12. Please treat them like teenagers. Student Ministry is NOT children’s ministry. Don’t play pointless games, Don’t talk down to them on a dumbed down level. Understand they probably know more about certain subjects than you do.
13. Don’t try to be their best friend. Be their pastor. The moment you become “BFF’s” you loose the credibility that you would have as their pastor. (That being said, know that eventually you will have some great friends that are former students. Invest in their lives and they will stick around!)
14. LOVE THEM. Don’t just treat them as a job. REALLY LOVE THEM. Show them. Tell them. (This is huge)
15. Always keep in mind… You are helping mold the adult they will be in a few short year.
16. Build a good relationship with parents. Parents are NOT the enemy they are your best line of defense. Student Ministries/pastors that have a good relationship with parents have a thriving SM.
Remember… Your student ministry is only as effective as your relationship with the parents is.
17. Don’t be surprised when you get stabbed in the back from: Your leaders, Parents, other Student Pastors, close friends. gotta put your big boy underwear on and go with it.
Remember: TRUTH never fears a challenge!
18. Always ALWAYS be open and honest with your senior pastor. Don’t surprise him.
19. DREAM BIG. And don’t allow the ministry/people to kill that dream!
20. Don’t give up! Don’t quit! Stay in the fight!!!
God called you to be a warrior…and sometimes warriors get wounded. BUT…wounds should not take the desire to fight out of us…but rather cause us to want to fight even more.
Don’t quit…don’t give up…fight the good fight! (Galatians 6:9)
Pray, fast, preach, witness, memorize Scripture…and give satan a swift kick in the cookies as often as possible!!
But whatever you do…don’t give up! He called you—He gifted you—He empowered you and He will sustain you! (II Corinthians 4) – the WHOLE THING!
Don’t give up! To many are following you for you to throw in the towel and quit. KEEP GOING!
21. DO NOT give up on a student because he/she doesn’t “Get it” now or after they graduate and leave and are no longer part of your ministry!
Here is a freebie: Don’t burn bridges. You never know when you might need that bridge to walk over again.
God bless you.
Keep fighting the good fight!
Some of the most loved pictures from my Student Ministry days: