This is from an article by Chris Folmsbee, former youth minister, titled “If I Were to Do It Again.”
• Act theologically before methodologically
• Be more of a spiritual director than a program director
• Hire a parent to be a part of our youth staff
• Spend more time investing in interns/co-pastors
• Experiment with more learner-centered education models
• Ask less of my volunteers and yet equip them more
• Communicate change to the church leaders, staff and parents more
• Create more opportunities for students to “learn up” instead of me “teaching down”
• Celebrate the successes in the lives of students with greater regularity and intensity
• Worry less about the retreat themes and spend more time with the students on the retreats.
• Take students on way more spiritual retreats
• Work hard to be more collaborative with the youth workers in my city
• Take more time off to be with my wife and kids
• Be more intentional with a confirmation process
• Find time to laugh and play more
• Be more grace-filled with students who were goofing off and causing trouble
• Try to learn more from the staff instead of thinking I have all the answers
• Take the criticism of others more seriously and less defensively
• Meet with my spiritual director more often
• Take personal retreats more often
• Be way more missional and a lot less attractional in my approach or model
• Try and get more pulpit time to advocate for the students in the church and community
• Pray more and develop a team of people to pray with
• Provide inspiring training for the parent of the students
• Call the students to greater levels of holiness
• Spend a lot more time creating opportunities for students to practice justice
• Allow the more artistic students opportunities to express themselves and their love for God.
• Teach much more conversationally
• Try to enter into the joy, pain, loss, doubt, hurt, etc. of the students and their families
I’ve never been a youth minister. But back before I had kids and before my church had a teen minister, my wife and I and two other couples tried to run a youth ministry. None of us had ever been part of a full time youth ministry as kids. We were clueless. I’m just glad the kids survived our stupidity.
My youngest has just graduated high school, and as the father of four, I’ve been involved in youth ministry at my church for a very long time — 13 or 14 years, I guess — with just my own kids. Much more than that if you include my tenure as a pretend-youth minister couple person. And what I’ve learned is that I still don’t know much about youth ministry.
But it looks like a pretty good list to me. I’d change “confirmation process” to “preparation for baptism,” but otherwise, it’s a better list than I’d know how to make.
What do you all think?