Today we have our 3rd installment of our New Position advice series, and this might seem like a strange piece of advice, since you are just starting, but it’s just as important as our other posts.
Build a ministry that can exist without you. Even though you are just stepping into a position, someday you will be stepping out. As you are no doubt experiencing in the position you are filling, this can be hard on the youth and the congregation. Whether or not the old youth minister left on good terms, it can leave a hole that may take years to repair. So, to help you begin to construct a ministry that can survive your departure, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Make sure your ministry is Christ-centered. We build relationships with our youth, which is awesome, but we can’t let our position overshadow the teen’s relationship with God. Make sure that you keep your teachings and activities focused on Christian teachings. Encourage prayer. Help to instill a love of God that surpasses their love for you.
Spread the wealth. As a follow-up to the previous suggestion, make sure that you are letting others have the spotlight, so to speak. Have your youth pray for the group instead of you. Let your volunteers teach sometimes. Spend as much time building relationships within the group as you do building relationships one on one. Identify the natural leaders in the group and help nurture their gifts by empowering them to take the lead occasionally. All of this shows that what your ministry does is bigger than just you.
Team build. Yes, dodgeball and sardines can be fun games, but spend more time doing team building activities. Your ministry should be more than a group of teens coming to hang out with you; they should be a team of young Christians that can work together to overcome obstacles. If you prepare them to band together when they face adversity, your departure, no matter the circumstances, should be something they can endure as a ministry.
Be deliberate. When my first position came to a close, we did a series of lessons and discussions about how our group was more than any one person. We discussed the leaders in the group graduating and moving on, and the group surviving. We talked about when I started and it was strange because I was new and different, but the group survived. As tough as it can be, every once in a while, teach a lesson about change, progress or transition. Preparation is key.
There is no one formula for success in ministry, but working hard and preparing for the future is something you can do to be ready for whatever comes next. When you start a position, know that even if you work there for your entire career, someday you will leave, and it’s up to you to prepare your teens, your congregation and yourself for that.