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Youth Work: 10 Good and Healthy Habits

1. Work hard to create a missional environment where students from any belief, background, disposition, ethnicity, orientation or race are welcome to come as they are and absorb who Jesus is.

2. Teach leaders and the invested students that the pulse of the community is everyone’s responsibility. Help students see themselves as a whole and not as parts. Exclusivity hurts outsiders and builds country club responses to change or challenges.

3. Meet frequently with leaders focusing on affirmation and feedback. Use robust dialogue and focus on their role description, personal growth and wins.

4. Get out of the way of people who can do a better job than you. Offer those leaders oversight allowing them to cultivate ownership and efficiency to task. Help them recruit and reproduce what they do.

5. Have a plan. Work the plan. One year, three years, five years, etc. Also, if nobody knows what the plan is, it’s just internal dialogue.

6. Make sure your plan can be measured and evaluated. Evaluate often as you work the plan. 

7. Tell people what you’re doing and why you’re doing it as often as you can.

8. Get the perspective and honest opinions from brand new leaders about what they see and interpret from their experiences. Their insight is valuable and their eyes are fresh without tradition.

9. Follow up. Follow up with conversations, questions, visitors, parents, etc.

10. Jesus is not an event or a class. Focus your program’s conversations on life outside of institutional church and how to look for Jesus in those moments.

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Chad Swanzy has served in youth ministry for 15 years and currently works as the student ministry director at Gateway Community Church in Austin, Texas. Learn more from Chad and ask him your questions at ChadSwanzy.com.