I'm going in to my 8th year of youth ministry at Grace Community Church. I thought I knew how to do youth ministry until I actually started "doing" youth ministry full time. 8 years later I realize how little I actually knew and, even now, how little I still feel like I know. Youth ministry is ALWAYS changing because each year, our kids are changing. I feel like I always have to adapt our strategies which always keeps me on my toes. Sometimes I'm quick to adapt and change. Other times I stay true to my Western PA roots and fight change with all that's in me. That said, here are some of the mistakes I've realized I've made recently and what I'm trying to do to fix them:
1. Not following up with kids. Our youth ministry is not huge, but for our area, it's a pretty large youth ministry. There are kids I know very well and kids I hardly know at all. What I've seen happen is that I have often neglected or waited way too long to follow up with kids that I've noticed haven't been at axis for a while. Here's what I'm trying to do to fix that - We've started using an attendance tracking software (one of those things I waited entirely too long to implement) and now I'm able to see each week the students who are regular and those who have been MIA. I plan a regular time in to my schedule each week to follow up with kids that have been missing for 3 weeks either through a text, facebook message, or a letter in the mail.
2. I'm not delegating enough. A counselor I had in college described me as a person who would work all alone on a roof on a hot summer day exhausting myself ... but never ask for help EVEN when people are all around me who WANT to help. Yeah, that's not really how I want to be described. I don't want to appear lazy. I don't want to appear like I never want to do anything. So, I often take the other extreme and will involve myself in EVERYTHING. Not good. Here's what I'm trying to do to fix that - I'm working on my "issues" and want to empower our leaders with responsibilities, not just tasks. There are certain things I'm pretty good at. There are a number of things I stink at. I'm seeking to release more responsibilities to our adults and to our kids and provide them with opportunities to serve and develop their gifts.
3. I have an awful memory. I have the memory of a fish. My desk is often plastered with post-it notes to help me remember things ... and even then I will still often forget. My memory has caused me to forget tasks, birthdays, names, and many other things that are important to our students. Here's what I'm trying to do to fix that - I often pray that axis will be a great youth ministry and that I will be a great youth pastor. To be that, I have to be willing to do the little things that will lead to that. So, I'm looking through school yearbooks to try to remember faces and names. I'm ... well, some would say "stalking" on facebook. :) I will go to the pages of the kids who are members on our axis page. I'll look at their photos trying my best to remember their faces and their names. I will look at a list of birthdays at the beginning of the week and send out either birthday letters or texts to kids. I keep writing note after note after note to try to help me remember.
4. I haven't provided enough opportunities for kids to go "deeper." Our Wednesday night ministry is the biggest thing we do, so I pour a lot of time and energy in to it to make it attractive and appealing to teenagers. I believe that if we can create a caring, accepting environment ... a place of belonging ... then kids will get a clear picture of who God is and will be drawn to wanting to know Him more. That is a core, foundational belief for me. I feel I have been giving kids a clear picture of God, but I haven't been doing enough to provide opportunities for kids to truly know God more. Knowing God still comes down to, I believe, reading your Bible, praying, and serving. I haven't been providing enough opportunities to do that. Here's what I'm trying to do to fix that - I'm pouring more and more time in to our small group leaders and ministry. We are using the LIVE curriculum from Simply Youth Ministry. I'm also providing something called "Deeper Sheets" for our kids to take home with them. It will provide them the opportunity to dig deeper in to what we talk about. I'll also be creating a text list for any kids who want to receive regular texts from me such as Bible verses to think about, prayers, or something to reflect on. We've also been providing (not every Wednesday) but times for our kids to pray together during our meeting time. We've also created a prayer room. Does every kid take advantage of these things? No. But, we are always trying to move our kids to that and also want to have something in place for the kids that DO want these things.
Anyway, I could go on and on with the mistakes ... but that would be a blogging mistake. :) Just wanted to share some of my thoughts on how were trying to fix some things. Any other suggestions? Anything you have done to help fix mistakes you've made in ministry?
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