Youth ministry was never meant to be done alone.
OK, now that the overly dramatic opening statement is out of the way – here’s where we’re headed with today’s article: If you are doing youth ministry alone, you will fail. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but you will, because it simply can’t be done (Umm…that was even more dramatic than the opening…but true.).
ou can try. Many valiant youth workers before you have. They work a 40+ hour workweek and do a pretty good job of full-time youth pastor on top of that. Or you are the full-time youth worker and not married yet, so piling it on feels good; even the right thing to do. Or you’re discovering the joys of being a new parent while juggling part-time barista and part-time youth worker. Whatever your situation, know that it can’t be done alone for long.
Ask any veteran youth worker – seriously, go ahead at your next network gathering or local youth pastor meeting. You’ll be hard-pressed to find one who has lasted by doing it alone.
Don’t. Do. Youth Ministry. Alone. Here’s why:
You are a prime target for discouragement
There’s nothing worse than being down … unless you’re down and alone. Honestly, it is a dangerous place for you to live for very long. In the ups and downs of youth worker life, discouragement can rear its ugly head quickly and drag you down (and possibly out). We are better together, and at some point you’re going to need someone to help pick you back up, brush you off and tell you to get back to work. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you.
You are a prime target for temptation
It seems like the enemy has his big guns aimed at people in ministry, and being on the front lines, all by yourself makes you an easy target!. We could list amazing people, full of potential, who sacrificed their future because they intentionally placed themselves in a solitary and vulnerable position. Don’t be a fool and think you’re stronger … no one is. Surround yourself with people who will protect you.
You are missing the point of leadership
If there was a “church leadership 101” course, building a team of volunteers would be at the top of the syllabus. If you’re a leader … LEAD people! Gather together some like-hearted people and together point students to Jesus. Surround yourself with people who get youth ministry and buy into the vision God has given you.
Remember, even the Lone Ranger had Tonto!
Kurt Johnston has been involved in junior high ministry since 1988 and is currently the junior high pastor at Saddleback Church in Southern California. He’s the author of Controlled Chaos: Making Sense of Junior High Ministry and Go Team! He loves providing resources for junior high ministry almost as much as he loves junior highers themselves. Visit Kurt Johnston at www.simplyyouthministry.com/