Supporting a new youth minister
Most of the time, I write to youth workers. This time, I’m writing to the church. Specifically, churches who are in the process of or have just hired a new youth minister. That early time, sometimes referred to as the ”honeymoon” period, can set the tone for the entire ministry. As a church, you have a lot invested in this new youth minister. Like pouring a strong foundation, you can help support this new youth minister and make sure his or her ministry is a success. Here are some things you can do to make this a reality…
1. Pray for them
Always the #1 thing you can do for a person, but this is doubly so for a minister. Ask them what you can pray for them, then let them know when you are interceding on their behalf. This is a powerful gift of support, and imagine how amazing it would be if everyone in your church was doing the same!
2. Get to know them
Being a minister can be very lonely. Get to know the minister and their family. Take them to lunch. Invite them into your homes. You don’t have to be best buddies, but get to know them as (insert first name here) and not as ”Reverend So-and-So” or ”That stupid youth minister.” You’ll never know how invaluable this is to a minister, but believe me its amazing.
3. Be their advocates
Everyone needs someone on their side. Especially ministers, because sometimes it feels like the whole world is arrayed against us. Be on their side, be their supporters, be their cheerleaders. This doesn’t mean blindly following them even when they’re completely messed up. Sometimes we need a good kick in the pants. But its so much more effective coming from someone we know is on our side. And we need people who will advocate for us when we can’t be there or aren’t there.
4. Let them know church culture
It always amazes me how people just think that new ministers should just KNOW how the church works and its culture functions. We need a guide on all the ins-and-outs. We can learn a lot but we need someone who can help us from making those unintentional screwups that have torpedoed far too many ministries.
5. Stop gossipers and complainers
The #1 killer of ministers — gossipers and complainers. Lets set aside for a second that they are sinning first by gossiping and complaining, and the sinning second by not taking it to the person and working it out. Wait, lets not set it aside. Gossiping and complaining is sin, and its never once created a healthy situation out of a problem. All it usually does it kill ministries, hurt people, and damage God’s kingdom. if you see or hear complainers, stop them in their tracks. Say, “Hey, that sounds like you have a problem. Lets go talk it out with ____.” If they decline, tell them nicely to shut their mouths.
6. Protect their family
You hired a minister, not their spouses, and certainly not their kids. Whatever goes on in the church and ministry, defend and protect their family. Do not put undue expectations on the spouses for involvement. Do not have behavioral expecations for their kids. Don’t involve them in church politics. Let them be normal members of the church.
7. Shower them with blessings
A card letting them know they’re loved. A secret $10 gift card to McDonalds. Toilet papering their yard. It doesn’t have to be big, but random acts of kindness (or in the case of TP, loving harrassment) do so much to offset the many negatives that come along in ministry. I have kept every card, letter, and encouragement I’ve received over the years to remind myself that people do care. Your small act of kindness will reverberate for years.