I recently started a new full-time youth ministry gig about 6 months ago. For a while I was the shiny new toy at our church, and that was fine! But in reality, it can be difficult to start fresh at a new place, with all of the cultural learnings, expectations from leaders/students/parents, as well as different people pushing their own agenda. But here are some of things I learned in this transition, and maybe it can help you if you’re ever starting fresh somewhere.
1. Humility is important: I think that anytime someone new is brought in, it can either inflate the ego of the “new guy” thinking they’re the Savior of the ministry, or it can cause people to be on their guard watching your every move, or both. I think its very important to maintain humility, and not to promise the world to anyone, especially yourself! If things start going right, don’t take all the credit. In fact, it may be time to get in the Word more, so that we don’t start to think its all by our own strengths!
And seriously, people are more attracted to a humble guy. Leaders are more willing to follow a man (or woman) of humility.
2. Honor the past: Get the “old” youth pastor to come in and speak one night (if he’s around). Encourage him to join you at events. Go to lunch with him and ask about the past. Solidarity is a good look for your ministry, and for the Church as a whole. I think its just a way to show that the church is healthy, that there is no competition, and trust me, students are paying attention to those types of things!
3. Don’t change everything. But do change SOME things: Obviously you don’t want to come in and blow up every program, recreate a ton of new things, and eventually get everyone looking at you like a wacko. But, you should change and improve SOME things. It gives you credibility, and it energizes the students and leaders. My goal was to have people saying “things are changing and happening here… I need to be apart of it!” If you’re not creative, than start getting other leaders and creative types around you and ask them their feedback on programs and ministry, and then start working. That right there could help energize the ministry as people realize they have a voice.
4. Get to know people. Listen to their stories and where they’re coming from: Sometimes I needed to slow down, put aside any of my own personal work, and just focus on getting to know people. Hear their stories, hear how the church and ministry impacted them, and remember them. The truth is, you can never go back to being new again, so take this time to focus on what’s really important at the beginning!
Kyle Daubenmeyer is currently the Youth Pastor at Rockpointe Community Church in Sterling Heights, MI. He loves sports, good movies, vacations, and spending time with friends and family. He has a lovely wife named Kristin and 2 beautiful daughters. He tweets at @kyledaubs