Was thinking this week about the “most importants” in youth ministry and came up with 3 things that every youth worker must strive to master. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized these are to some degree unattainable, but what we still must strive for every day. Here’s what I think youth workers must master – add yours or an observation in the comments:

God’s Word
Central to our ministry is the Word of God. It must be read, studied and poured over – a hunger for the Word has to be central to our ministry and heart. The only problem is that it can quickly become an elusive or altogether forgotten goal for us to hit. Too many youth workers, myself included, at times struggle to consistently spend time researching and studying the Bible, much less hold a fierce command of it. If you are going to have longevity in youth ministry, we have to be centered in His Word.

People are at the very heart of what we do every day in youth ministry. Volunteers, staff, students, elders, parents – all play a critical role in youth ministry. You will never master interpersonal relationships, but you have to work at them every day. People are nuanced and complicated, each has to be handled appropriately and with love. People will continue to challenge you every day of ministry. And just when you think you have everyone figured out, expect a curveball.

You have to be humble to make it in youth ministry. Students have an incredible talent to sniff out the least bit of inauthenticity. Being grounded in the Word and having a heart for people is what will remind us of our place in God’s kingdom. It isn’t our ministry, it is His ministry. It isn’t our work, it is the Spirit’s work. We get the privilege of leading, and ultimately serving what He is doing. What an honor that is – which makes it all the more frustrating when our ego gets in the way. You must do battle with pride every day and serve with a humble heart.

What else do we as youth workers need to master, but never will?


Matt and Doug always deliver god youth ministry content – their Youth Ministry Daily (free) email is loaded with great insight and challenges. This week they’ve been tackling church politics, and it is not to be missed. Couple things: 1) read this sample of their stuff (full article here) and 2) go subscribe – it’ll take 3 simple clicks and worth it.

Politics can be redefined as “one’s ability to gain support.” When you redefine politics in a positive light, it can become something that builds up the body rather than breaking it apart. The Church is a body, and each part needs one another. Work to gain the support of other people in your church for the ministry where God has called you.

Let people know what’s going on in your ministry. Communicate vision, events, and milestones worthy of notice and celebration. You don’t need to hire a public relations firm and blitzkrieg your church with all that’s happening within your youth ministry. But, you can work to keep your ministry in the minds (and hearts) of your church without overwhelming them. You can’t gain the support from people if they’re in the dark about the happenings of your ministry.

A wise leader knows how to pick his/her battles. If you’re always fighting, your ability to gather support will diminish. You can’t win every battle. If you think you can, you act like a bull in a china shop, instead of a human in a china shop (where there’s a lot less breakage).