In my opinion, youth ministry is the most amazing job on the planet! We are actually paid to spend time with students, loving them and helping them love Jesus. At its, core, that is really all student ministry is. That is it!
And it is because of this simple passion that many of us sent our resumes and pursued churches in the hopes of actually having this blessed task as an actual profession. We remember the exact place we were when we received the call from a search committee informing us that we are their candidate and this dream, is not becoming a reality.
But for some reason, this idealism, passion, and excitement for Christ, for ministry, for students doesn’t seem to be enough. The actual profession of student ministry turns out to not be so simple. Loving students into the kingdom is actually this tiny sliver of what we do and what we are graded on. There is this hidden road that no body helps us navigate that is wrought with land mines, and many times littered with the poor youth workers who have gone before.
This hidden road in the awful and steep learning curve of student ministry in a church context. The bad news is that if navigated poorly will destroy the traveler, harden their heart for ministry, and for the church, and might even devastate their faith.
The good news is that this learning curve, while steep, is incredibly short. In a matter of two short years, you can have a firm grasp on all the nuts and bolts that are needed to run a successful and thriving ministry. And once these skills are mastered, then you are set free to do the thing that your heart longs to do, to love students and help them love Jesus.
You don’t have to do this alone!
Instead of blindly navigating this alone at extreme peril; instead of learning through trial and error and error and error; and instead of learning through books written by people who haven’t been an actual youth worker in over a decade and can not even remember what it was like to deal with the challenges of an aging pastor, What if it didn’t have to be this way?
What if you had a partner who would help you navigate this road, a coach to help you push through this short, but incredibly steep learning curve, and would help you develop the skills and rhythms for long-term, healthy ministry?
What if you also were surrounded by a group of colleagues who were in a similar spot in whom you could share life with, share ideas with, commiserate with, and encourage each other as you work hard through this difficult season?
A cohort for youth workers in their first two years of ministry
There is actually a group that is gathering with this purpose: To give youth workers in their first two years of paid ministry the tools, encouragement, accountability, and habits that will help them not only survive in ministry, but put the patterns in place to allow them to thrive.
Over the course of a year, this cohort would focus on 5 distinct areas:
1) Develop healthy rhythms;
Spiritually, professionally, and personally
2) Provide practical resourcing
Curriculum and talk development
Program structure and support
3) Encourage connection
Among their colleagues in the cohort
Among their colleagues in our denominational family
4) Safe accountability
In their walk with Jesus and pursuit of holiness
In their relationship with their supervisor
In their implementation of their ministry plan.
5) Having Fun!
Laughter is the best medicine, we will try to do a lot of it.
A cohort made up of 8-10 youth workers, would meet together in the fall at a retreat center, and then two more times in that school year. There would be a monthly conference call with the cohort, monthly call from the cohort leader, and a monthly check in with a local coach. With all this connection, training, and fun, you will be through the steepest part of the learning curve and ready to settle into the ministry that God has actually called you to do, to love students and help them love Jesus!!
If you are in your first two years of vocational ministry, would you consider an opportunity like this? Sign ups are happening this summer. There will be more details to come.
For those of you veterans, what are some topics that I am missing? What is some of the best helps and advice or wisdom through hard knocks would you include?