This is a great article from youthministry.com. I’ll be honest and say that, like the authors, when I was younger and still “growing up” in youth ministry, I thought being a youth worker meant you had to be popular, attractive, charismatic, all kinds of ability, and young, and that by the age of 40, my use as a youth worker would be done, and I’d have to pursue “other” ministry. Well, I’m a bit passed 40 and I think I’m still learning about youth ministry. Plus, you’re never too old to pour into the youth of today. Only those with shallow vision believe that teens don’t need adults in their lives to provide encouragement, balance, accountability, and wisdom. This is a good article, hope you enjoy it.
Once you become a youth worker, it won’t take long for you to discover: You. Need. Help! One key ingredient in a healthy youth ministry is a team of caring adults. For the longest time, we tried to recruit young, funny, musical, athletic, attractive, cool, wealthy adults with big swimming pools and lots of free time on their hands. We learned the hard way our list was both shallow AND impossible to find. As we’ve grown, we’ve matured our criteria to recruit the kind of adult students really need.
Students need adults in their lives who aren’t afraid to wade into the mess.
Plenty of adults are willing to point out students’ failures, but not as many adults are willing to walk with students through the aftermath. Failure is uncomfortable, painful, and messy. Healthy youth ministries have adults who aren’t fazed by the chaos and are willing to love students before, during, and after their failures.
Students need adults in their lives who offer them real, legitimate encouragement.
Many students hear little-to-no positive words on a daily basis, and what they do hear is often superficial and performance-related. Healthy youth ministries have adults who offer students the kind of encouragement that gives them courage to take on Kingdom-of-God-sized risks and dare to follow Jesus in their messy and overwhelmingly critical, teenage world.
Students need adults in their lives who help them discover and live out their true identity – the person God created them to be.
We believe this kind of identity is realized most often in one-on-one or small group settings, and we’ve uncovered a super snazzy formula: a student + a caring adult + the spirit of Jesus + time = a student who is connected to Jesus and a caring adult. The questions we like to ask students are:
(a) What breaks your heart? (credit Tim Eldred for this one)
(b) What inspires you to work harder?
(c) What do you want people to know about you?
(d) What is your God-dream?
At the risk of making a colossal understatement, adolescence is a challenging season of life. As you reflect on your own teenage-messed-up-punk-life, think of the adults who looked beyond your mess and had the most profound impact. We’re guessing their impact wasn’t because they were young, funny, musical, athletic, attractive, cool, wealthy adults with big swimming pools and lots of free time on their hands, but instead, that team of caring adults saw your heart, loved you well, and led you to Jesus.
Thanks for loving students,
Tim & Tasha
Tim and Tasha have been in youth ministry since 1992, though they look much younger. They’ve both earned PhD’s – Tim in adolescent spiritual formation and Tasha in counseling – but please don’t call them “doctor;” they prefer to be called “Grandmaster T” and “Skinny Lady,” respectively. Tasha is a writer, speaker, worship leader, and counselor. Tasha does online counseling through BroomtreeCounseling.com. Tim is a writer, speaker, worship leader, and the Pastor with Students at the Vineyard Church in New Orleans. They have three beautiful daughters and live by alligators.