If you are at your first church now, or you have been in youth ministry for a good while, you can probably remember your job description and possibly even your interview. In both of these areas comes the thought of what does the church really want from me in this ministry now? Out of all the things either written or said, what is most important? What if what they really wanted wasn’t even said in the job description, interview or not even in a staff meeting. .
Over my thirty years of youth ministry I have boiled down two of the most important things that churches, and many times your pastor, are the most concerned about. They are not super spiritual, but both are necessary if you want to have a long tenure at a church. When reading them, at first most will want to reject the two items, but if you will think about it for a period of time and look back over your ministry, I think you will agree that these are two core goals that most churches have, even though they are not spoken out loud.
The first goal is that you must have enough teenagers that the majority of the church is happy; there is not a magic formula here and there is no set number. This number of students desired is just a feeling that most members in your church have that says, “yes we have teenagers and yes our youth ministry is successful.” This number may be much lower than you would like to have, but at times may be much higher than is reasonable. There are times when a church is in decline and they remember the glory days, those days when the church used to have forty teens in attendance; (the problem is they had 400 in church attendance then and they are now at 200 and you do have twenty teens in attendance). The church members still have the youth ministry goal of forty teens. To be successful in this area of expected number of teens, the youth minister must either reach that desired goal of teens or spend a good amount of time educating the congregation on why the youth ministry numbers are down.
The second thing is a standard that most youth ministers never think of; that standard is what I call, “Don’t break my stuff”. By this I mean, how well do you manage the youth ministry and do you keep the teens from breaking things in the church. Many youth ministers play on the edge and on the edge many times include breakage. The youth minister whose activities lead to breaking something and has the attitude that “Well at least I’m reaching teenagers,” will find himself in for a short tenure in many churches. I know the goal of being more concerned for souls than for the property of the church, but it will not be advantageous to attack the people with property concern with disdain. It is their tithes and offerings that has built the church and paid your salary, not the teenagers. Work to build a ministry that takes care of property and reaches teens at the same time; it can be done.
One youth minister, brand new to a church, played the indoor snowball fight ( the game with flower in the hose) in the churches’ brand new fellowship hall. He did not last long at that church.
Remember that churches set the standards for what they call success, you don’t. You only have three responses to those standards. One is to meet those standards, two is to educate the church through love and time as to what the standards should be, and last, find another church that better matches who you are.
May God bless you with longevity at whatever church God has you in or calls you to.