Youth Ministry Basics: Starting the School Year

Welcome to the inaugural post for Youth Ministry Basics! My name is Hannah Miller and I am a Director of Christian Education and Youth Ministry (DCEY) in Oklahoma City, where I have served for 5 years.

The purpose of Youth Ministry Basics is to provide a place to talk about your everyday, run-of-the-mill youth ministry things (is there such a thing as run-of-the-mill youth ministry?)

The start of the school year is upon us. For many of us, that means a return to the routine: Sunday school, Midweek, Confirmation, and small groups, monthly activities, District Youth Gatherings, so on and so on. It can be easy to get overwhelmed in the schedule. Here’s a top ten list of some ideas to help de-stress your schedule:

1.   Focus on the Relationships: Relationships are the backbone and best – sometimes, most challenging – things about youth ministry. Make a plan to spend one-on-one time with each youth, attend a football or soccer game, band concert, and go for a walk or for coffee. While you may feel the pressure to stay in the office working on paper work, the youth will much appreciate the effort made for them.

2.   Figure out where students fit: In Purpose Driven Youth Ministry, Doug Fields identifies 5 different types of students (community, crowd, congregation, committed, and core) that you’ll find in your youth ministry. Take some time and assess where the majority of your students fit. Are there ways for students in all 5 levels to connect to the ministries provided by your church?

3.   Contact the local schools: A lot of schools have strict visitor requirements that can be solved by contacting the school to clear the way for you to visit your youth at school. Now is also a good time to contact schools to get their schedules. You’ll want one for every school that your youth attend.

4.   Re-evaluate: The start of the school year is a great time to introduce new programs and to tweak other ones. Kids have graduated and you have new kids who have no idea what’s “always been done before.”

5.   Set your schedule: While youth may not be thinking about what they’re doing in December, parents are. The sooner you can get out information to parents, the better. Having a schedule for the semester – or, better yet, the school year – will help parents get an idea of what is going on.

6.   Enlist Adults: Youth workers are not an island unto themselves, though some days it may feel like it. Find adults who are interested and passionate about working with the youth and USE THEM. Have them teach a four week series in Sunday school, or lead and plan an event.

7.   Serve Together: Serving with one another is a great way for students to connect and grow together. What are some ways your students can serve your church or your community?

8.   Get Together:  Celebrating the start of school with your students is a great way to get them back into the youth ministry schedule and is a great way to welcome new students into the group.

9.   Identify Student Leaders: If you have students that show maturity and leadership skills, use them! Ask them to lead certain parts of Sunday school or Small groups. Ask them to call and invite students to events. Not only will this instill in them confidence, but it can help lighten your load too.

10. Take a Sabbath: Your day off is there for a reason! Use it! Use your time off to catch up on sleep or to spend time in the Word. Try to keep a sense of balance during your work week as well. Exercise; spend time with your family and friends; or attend a Bible study that you don’t lead.

What are some other suggestions or advice you can give to help de-stress the fall calendar?
First published on the youthESource on September 10, 2009.

Published August 29, 2014

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