Possibly one of the scariest challenges in ministry is starting a new youth group. As scary as it may seem, the next generation of church leaders depends on us, and someone’s gotta take up the call. So here are some tips for those of you who are jumping into an exciting (and life-changing) ministry like this.
5 Tips on Starting a New Youth Group
- Live the example you want to show to your teens. Now this is very cliché and you’re probably thinking, “Duh!” All of us know it’s never that easy setting a good Christian example in our lives. But you need to have it in order to fortify yourself and to present Christ in a pure manner with love to your kids. This includes making scripture, prayer, and a good attitude part of every moment of your life.
- Set ground rules for your group. It’s pretty aggravating to have kids come in and walk all over you when you’re trying to minister to them. Set rules like: no cell phones, no PDA (public displays of affection), no talking during service, etc., etc. and be ready to enforce these rules while remembering that you want them to have a good time—so long as they respect you and everyone else there.
- Remember who the enemy is. It’s not the teens and it’s not their parents; it’s sin. Sometimes, you might have a kid that makes you want to rip your hair out (perhaps they already ripped your hair out), or a parent who drives you insane. However, we need to take a step back and realize that they are the people who need you the most right now. You and your other youth leaders (if you have any others) need to reach out to these kids and their families, and patiently speak to them about their behavior, making sure to maintain a positive attitude and show the love of Christ through it all.
- Give yourself plenty of time to prepare. Youth ministry generally involves quite a bit with games, teaching, and worship. Of course, your church may have different ways you go about it, but you don’t want to slack off on your preparation. The youth deserve your time and your attention, and you have to have back-up plans in case your group size is different than you expected or another leader couldn’t make it. Never assume you have plenty of time the night before to get everything done.
- Have fun with it. If you aren’t enjoying yourself, then chances are neither are they. Be active in your students’ lives and enjoy their company rather than dread it. Be engaging in your devotions/sermons and speak to them about things that they are going through. Get to know them and try to spend time with them in smaller groups or individually. Make friends with your youth while maintaining a teacher/student relationship.
There’s no perfect science to to being an awesome youth leader and every youth group is different. Instead of worrying about being the perfect youth leader, let God move your ministry and be ready to give your best for your flock. Being a youth pastor is an amazing blessing if you put your heart and soul into it and share the blessing with your students.