Tis the season of transition. With the end of the school year and Bible College graduates heading into the ministry, there will be many NEW Youth Pastors out there this summer. This transition can be difficult on the teens, the church, the Pastor and especially the new YP. I went back in time to when I first became a YP and found 5 Friendly Reminders for the new YP.
Every place regardless of the condition when you arrive, has a history. Spend some time understanding how the Youth Group and more so the Church got to where it is today. Learn about the Pastor and his vision for the Youth Group. Listen to the teens and workers when they tell you “that isn’t how we used to do it”. Lift up your predecessor. Honor them, their wife and the work they accomplished. Even if the situation is not the best, find something they did good to help and praise them.
When I came to Clays Mill in 2008, I followed Dave Smith director of Circle C Baptist Ranch (www.circlecbaptist.org). He is and was a Youth Ministry Legend. He has been working in Youth Camps over 40 years! I felt like the guy who filled in for Babe Ruth….Transition wasn’t easy…. But one of the things that I believe helped was keeping a good relationship with Bro. Smith and honoring him for all he had done. I will never forget, we invited him to speak at the first Christmas Banquet and gave him a suit that he still wears today! As a YP, I have been blessed to have him down the hall to go to when I didn’t know the answer.
It is important to note that more people are affected by church staff transition than just the Pastor and the church staff. The people of the church and more importantly the teens are always affected when there is a transition of leadership. These type of decisions affect the personal emotions of our people.
For me, there were some tough spots. Some teens weren’t happy about the transition. I remember one young man in particular saying “Why did you take my Youth Pastor away? Some it took longer to build relationships. Others jumped into our arms as we arrived. The key was to love them all the same on a personal level and to earn the love and respect of those who may have made it difficult. That we did… That young man and I have become very close over the years.
Being the new guy is definitely a learning experience. One of the best lessons to learn is the same lesson you’ve been learning all your life: Surrender. You may have surrendered to preach and surrendered to serve God but now is the time you surrender to serve the Pastor as well. Some of you dont even like reading that last sentence and that’s why you will be looking for a new job in a year or two. Surrender to my authority is key to success in EVERY area of life, but especially the ministry. I want to please God and God has placed a Pastor in my life to guide me. If I am pleasing my Pastor, I am pleasing God, if I am not pleasing him, I am not pleasing God.
Having Pastored before I came on staff as a YP, I knew there would be some times of surrender. I was the MAN.. now I am one of the men. There had even been times of disagreement and disapproval. I dare say, Preacher has never known. Why? Am I afraid? No. I contend that I share many ideas and opinions with Preacher. But I also understand, I am surrendered. Not just to God, but if I work for him, I am also surrendered to my Preacher.
Working on staff, you will learn that the Youth Ministry is an “and” ministry. The majority of Youth Pastors either work an additional job or serve in other capacities as full time church staff- Music, Bus, Maintenance, School, Assistant Pastor, etc. This makes for long hours and a fast pace. For faith and family sake, I would recommend learning the Power of a Half Hour. Use every hour you have for a dedicated purpose. Even rest on purpose. It will mean more.
Here at Clays Mill, I am the Youth Pastor and the Financial Manager. There is lots to keep up with, keep organized and keep separated. I utilize my email (Gmail) a lot. I use Google Drive for accessing documents and keeping them organized. I also use my Google Calendar to live by schedule and to get my daily tasks completed. While your programs may be different, if you are to be successful, you will need some organization and ambition, that’s called Hustle.
Coming in to a new leadership position, whether you are on staff or not, your integrity is a key foundation to building a lasting ministry in a place. You would do yourself good to live graciously, humble and consistent among the elders of the church both public and private. Make your intentions, plans, desires and goals clear and then work to be consistent in honestly attaining them.
I came on a staff loaded with servants of the Lord. It was a blessing to get to serve with them. Being the young man at 25, I listened… even when I wanted to speak. I learned… even when I thought they were doing it wrong. I longed to be consistent and I lived honest before them. It took a few years, but earning respect is all about depositing consistency.
Young man, you may not want to hear some of this, but you need to. Maybe if you will prepare for this transition a little, your time will be longer and easier serving the Lord.