Have you ever felt like a failure? Okay, we all have at some point, because we all fail. We all do certain things that may be great ideas, but go about it the wrong way, and utterly fail. One thing that I desire is for others’ to learn from my mistakes and failures. I try to do this with learning from others’ failures, and hopefully they can learn from mine as well. Today, I want to give you the top 5 failures that I have committed in student ministry:

  1. Epic Fail #1- Train and Equip Parents- As I have grown in student ministry (not going on 7 total years), I have learned that the parents represented in our ministry is as important as the students we are ministering too. Now, I am trying to teach, share resources with, and help parents become better parents to effectively parent the teens of today’s culture. If you are first starting out in ministry, go ahead and begin equipping the parents to build stronger families.
  2. Epic Fail #2- Recruit a team of adult leaders- In my earlier years of ministry; I had a couple of leaders, but did not set up an adult leadership that would take us to the next level like I should have. Regardless of the number of students in your ministry, it is important to begin building a team to take your ministry to the next level.
  3. Epic Fail #3- Inform parents when disciplining a student- There have been some times where a student gets in trouble, and I do not inform parents, and then the parents come back with a twisted story from their teenager, and I have to backtrack a bit, and build their trust and relationship back. I have learned that when a student gets in trouble or has to be corrected in our student ministry on an event or on Wednesday night, it is always important to mention it to the parents. I do not care how small, but in doing so, it builds relationships with the parents, and builds a greater trust from them to you.
  4. Epic Fail #4- Think through games and pranks- I am a prankster, and am personally okay with pranks. My failure is that we have not totally thought through pranks in our ministry. At camp we decided to play “human clue” and fake a real murder with the students. It seemed like a fantastic idea, but when it played out, we had students crying, had a girl faint, had a young boy call his mom for a lawyer, and upset some families that were at camp. What seemed like a fantastic idea was horrible, because it was not thought out. Think out your ideas of what could happen, and it will save you a lot of problems.
  5. Epic Fail #5- Building relationships with the local schools- Do this first. This should be one of the top things in your ministry that you are consistently doing. I have wasted time in this area at my ministry, and now am trying to play catch up. Building relationships with schools takes a great deal of time, and it is important that you stay at it, and consistently plan time to build this relationship.

So, do not fail at these things, and try your best to learn from the epic fails that I have done in our student ministry.

Josh Evans is the student pastor at Union Grove Baptist Church in the Winston Salem, NC area. He has been a mentor and pastor to students for 4 years. You can connect further with Josh on his blog or send him a direct email at joshhevans@gmail.com.

Congratulations, you made it to the summer and for most of us it is another notch in the youth ministry belt.  Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in youth ministry, when another year passes by you look back at how far you’ve come and then you might find yourself asking, “How long can I really do youth ministry?”

It’s not a question of, “Is it time to quit?” because that’s a result of frustration and burn out.  Pondering your longevity is healthy question because let’s face it one day your time will come to hang up the flip-flops and t-shirts. One day you will not be the youth minister of the church in which you currently reside.  By asking this question you begin the process of doing something every youth minister should do which is REPLACE YOURSELF.

But, how do you go about doing so?  How does one replace them selves without picking a date?  It starts with:

Casting Vision:  Your ministry can’t be about you otherwise it will crumble when you depart.  Creating a vision means creating a destination that goes beyond you.  It’s about what you feel God has called you to lead and one-day hand off.  In order to make this happen you need to share the vision of your ministry with your team, your students and the church so that they can carry it forward even after you are gone.

Building Up Leaders: You replace yourself by delegating responsibilities so that when you walk away the ministry can keep moving.  But, it’s not just about recruiting foot soldiers to do your work, it’s about looking for people who have the potential to takeover when you step down and bring the ministry to an entirely new level.  To find these people look for those who are out of the box thinkers, have a heart for God and the courage to make bold moves.

Thinking Steps Not Programs:  If your ministry is all about event planning it won’t have the structure to thrive on it’s own.  If you have a vision the best way to reach it is through a ministry that consistently leads teenagers into the next step of their faith journey.  Every thing that you plan should have a next step or else you will find people hitting a dead end.

Replacing yourself isn’t easy; it takes work and is a long-term plan.  You are not going to know the day your role, as a ministry leader will end; therefore, it’s always good to plan for the future.  On top of creating a sustainable structure you need to make sure that pride and fear never stand in the way.  That is why you need to make sure that God is leading you.  When you work on your replacing yourself you are not only building a healthy ministry but also one that will last.

How are you replacing yourself?

Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. You can read more about his blog Marathon Youth Ministry.