4 Solid First Steps in Youth Ministry

I had no idea what my first steps in youth ministry should be. Walking into the office that first week was intimidating. My only experience of youth ministry was from my teenage years and now I had to actually run one. On that very first day, I remember walking in wondering, “Okay, what do I need to do today?”

Whether you are starting a youth ministry from scratch or taking over an existing one, knowing where to start can be intimidating. Your first steps in youth ministry are crucial because they set the direction. If not taken seriously or strategically you can create a lot of unnecessary work and toil. 

So, what are the right moves? What needs to be done? What should your first steps in youth ministry be?

Analyze What And Who You Have: Take an inventory of your resources such as curriculum, budget and equipment. Introduce yourself to current and potential volunteers. If you are taking over a current program, just take the first year or so to oversee the current culture, environments and systems. Take it all in before you make any major moves.

Decide Where You Want To Go: In your first few months of youth ministry, you need to work on a vision and mission statement. They do not need to be 100 percent solid before you begin; however, they should give you an idea of where you want to go. To get this, just ask yourself, “What will a teenager and his or her family look like after participating in this ministry?” Once you start answering that question, then you will start to see what will help and hinder you.

Find Allies To Walk With You: Youth ministry is a long journey, and it’s one not meant to be done on your own. Find a network of like-minded youth ministers to give you wisdom and insight. Look for men or women to pray with and for you. Recruit adults who will help you discern the first steps in the development of your youth ministry.

Make Simple And Gradual Changes: Change is hard and if you make it too quickly the push back you’ll receive will be draining. On top of recruiting people to walk with you, develop a plan that prioritizes the changes that need to take place. After that, schedule them so that you don’t burn people out. People have a hard time with change; however, you can make it slightly easier as long as you show people that there is a plan.

Starting out in youth ministry is difficult because of the passion you have to bring teens to Christ. If you want to succeed, you will need to be humble and patient. Be patient with your goals and compassions. If you create the right system and just keep turning that wheel, you will see fruit to what you do. And once you get started, just use the momentum of your successes to carry you through the rough times.

What steps and tips would you recommend to youth ministers starting from scratch or taking over a new ministry?    

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Chris Wesley
Chris graduated from Xavier University in 2003 with a BA in Communications: Electronic Media. He moved to Baltimore in the fall of 2003 where he served as a Jesuit Volunteer for a year. During that time, he was a Case Manager at Chase Brexton, met my wife Kate and felt God's calling to Student Ministry. In the summer of 2004, heI was hired by the Roman Catholic Parish Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Maryland as a Middle School Youth Minister. Today he oversees grades 5-12 as the Director of Student Ministry.

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