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2 Ways to Ensure Your Success in Youth Ministry

I like guarantees. I’ve got nothing to lose! And a guarantee of success? Total win. When I reflect on 20-plus years of youth ministry experience and counting, I think I can pinpoint two areas in which all success in any ministry points to. And crazy enough, they’re found in the Bible too!

In every event, in every conversation, every camp, every sermon, in every service, we can look at the two greatest commandments that we find in Mark 12. Ready for them?

Love God. Love others. Any ministry success we will ever have will come back to these two things. Here’s what we need to do: 

If we are trying to help students love God themselves, loving God better be something we as youth workers should be doing in our own lives. We know that we do not have the power to change anybody. Only the Lord has this power. You are only as effective in ministry as you are allowing God to continually transform your life. When we are leading by example in our quiet times, our prayer time, our worship and lifestyles by making it a daily effort to love our God … it shows. When we are in touch with God, it shows up in our ministry, in our relationships and in our conversations with students across the board. When we are loving God, and teaching students how to love God, ministry is a success. 

Events are great. Services are always fun. Camps are incredible. But relationships rule all. In everything we do, the goal should be relationships. This is how teenagers, volunteers and co-workers know that God is working through you, and it’s by how you love and interact with them. An event might be great, but 99 percent of the time a student will come back because of a loving conversation with a staff member or volunteer. Loving is contagious. When we are loving on our volunteers and students, they naturally will go out and repeat the process to those around them. Our ministry wants to be known for loving others well.

That’s it! That’s how you succeed in ministry. Success doesn’t mean a huge burst in attendance or even changed lives. Success is being faithful to the callings of Jesus to love God and love others. Focus on those two things and success is guaranteed! 

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Josh Griffin is high school pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. He’s the co-counder of DownloadYouthMinistry.com and host of the Youth Ministry Garage Podcast. He's authored more than 20 youth ministry resources and is the author of "99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders" with Doug Fields. Josh is a father of 4 who speaks a little, podcasts a little, Twitters a bit, and blogs a lot. You can find him at DownloadYouthMinistry.com!