We live in challenging times to be a youth director but more than ever teens need a positive influence in their lives as they face difficult moral choices, mental and emotional turmoil, shattered trust in authority, and attacks on a biblical worldview. They need hope, a sense of belonging, and an identity securely rooted in truth.
Top Priority for a Youth Director
First and foremost, youth leaders need a love for the Lord that spills over into a heart for the teens (Matt. 22:37-40). If one or both of these are missing, teens will soon notice and ministry will be less effective.
Love for the Lord keeps Him first and in the center of what we do.
Love for the teens gives us the motivation to invest into them and the youth ministry with the intent of helping them learn to love the Lord too. As He becomes their all in all, they’ll find Him to be enough even in their most difficult days.
Out of love for the Lord comes an authenticity that speaks volumes to youth, probably more than all the actual words we could speak. Out of love for teens comes an atmosphere of acceptance, respect, and security which appeals to deep-rooted needs within them and opens them to further ministry.
Three Objectives for Those Leading Youth Ministry
With love as our primary driving force, we’re ready for ministry.
- Understand youth and their culture and meet them there.
We need to meet teens where they are to take them to where they should be, to go deeper in their walk with the Lord. If we don’t understand how they view life, the messages we send might not get through the way we intend. They might hear something different than what we think we’re communicating. Find help at: Youth Ministry Resources
- Build community within the youth group, making the emphasis about relationships — first with God and then with us and the other teens.
Take time to read the blog post, The Focus of Youth Ministry. From this focus, we then strategize or plan out our youth program and meetings. What can we do to help them “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18), to love Him more? What can we do to help them know one another better, not to be cliquish, but to engage in true body life to help each other grow? What can we do to let them know we care?
- Disciple, or mentor, them in their love relationship with the Lord.
Youth ministry needs to be about more than fun activities or hanging out. It even needs to be about more than simply learning “about” God or gaining head knowledge from the Bible. Teens need help navigating through life with Christ at the helm. Some of that can happen in a large group setting, but it will take more. They need to see an example. They need to be nurtured. They need feedback and debriefing. This best happens one-on-one and/or in small groups. Some can take place through texting, social media, and the like, but we must never let that replace face to face ministry. Check out the Shepherding Ministry section on the MinTools.com site. Start by reading through all the general pages and then under venues, hone in on the discipleship posts. Though these pages don’t specifically target youth ministry, the principles apply.
Sure, there’s more a youth director must do like planning and scheduling activities, service projects, group dynamic, parent relations, dealing with conflict and discipline issues, staffing, working with a budget, etc. However, with priorities and main objectives as suggested above, we’re headed in a good direction with lots of ministry potential.