In the last two weeks I have spoken to three students about the possibility of them pursuing youth ministry as a career. Two are current high school students in my ministry, while the other is the son of a friend I play soccer with. (His son is a freshman in a Christian college nearby).
What advice would you give someone who is looking to pursue a career in youth ministry? Here’s what I started with:
1) PRAY, PRAY, PRAY: This should be a given! But, do you know how many young people I have spoken to who want to go into ministry because it looked fun? It’s so important that we help students to see that youth ministry is a calling and should not be taken lightly. I believe there are great deal of youth workers who burn out early because it simply was not their calling, or they did not take the time to prepare for it…
2) Get Involved In A Local Youth Ministry While At College: “School is very important, but it is essential that you get 3-4 years as a volunteer / intern under your belt before you set off into full-time ministry. You will be able to see the good, the bad, and the indifferent as you work in the trenches. It will also allow you discover and develop your strengths, as well as face your weaknesses. Learning these lessons in the relative safety of a volunteer position or internship is a whole lot less painful than being the paid guy or gal…”
3) Get Involved In A GOOD Youth Ministry While At College: “Take your time selecting a youth ministry to work with. Take a close look at the youth pastor / youth director and ask others about their reputation? Do they invest in people well? Are they organized? Are they someone to model your future ministry on?”
4) Find A Youth Ministry Mentor: “Whether it’s your youth pastor or a fantastic volunteer, find someone who can connect with you regular as you navigate through college and towards a full-time position. It’s important to allow a “been there and done it” person to give you insight, advice, and encouragement…”
5) Plan For The Journey: As simple as this may be, it’s important that you plan a strategic course to get through college while also trying to ensure that you take the best program and classes within that program. Don’t just go to a college your friends are attending!
6) Talk To Others Who Have Recently Graduated With A Youth Ministry Degree: “Ask recent grads their experiences. Ask them about their program. What did it lack? What was best? What would you do differently? It’s amazing how much insight you will find from someone who has recently graduated. Perhaps the crucial conversations are with the ones who one year into their full-time job. It is then that they realize how well equipped they are…”
What else would you add to this list? What advice have you given a student who is interested in pursuing youth ministry full-time?