Quick poll this week asking if your volunteers who serve in Small Groups also serve in your weekly youth group gatherings! In our high school ministry they are completely separate commitments, but we do have some that choose to serve at both (and we are eternally grateful for them!). How about you? Seems like most of the youth pastors I’ve talked to recently have asked for commitments to both the small group and the large group and would be interested to know what you do, and if you’re willing, explain why in the comments. Vote now!

JG

We’ve all heard it. Finding a job is tough in this economy when so many people are out of work. Youth Ministry is no exception. Most of us who have steady youth ministry jobs are staying put, but for a lot of us that simply isn’t an option. So while finding a good Church in this tough economic climate may seem tough, it’s not impossible. In fact, I’ve done it twice.

The first time was in 2008, when the markets first collapsed. My salary as a Youth and Children’s minister was payed out of the interest generated by an endowment. I used to joke that I was the “June Jolly Memorial Youth Pastor”. The fund stopped generating interest and my salary money evaporated over night. I walked into the office one morning and was told that I was being let go immediately. I got on my denomination’s website and there were NO youth ministry jobs in my home state of Kentucky. I had a strong sense, though, that this was my life’s purpose and that if I exhausted every effort to remain in ministry, God would honor that and make up the difference. I wound up moving to North Carolina where, until just recently, I served as a Youth and Children’s Minister at a larger Church and with a raise in salary. But that was after several months of earnest search and “loser days” sitting in our apartment watching bills pile up while my wife bore the weight.

As I write this, I am avoiding the chore of packing up my office. Next week I am moving to my new Church in Virginia. Last fall, my wife’s father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a fatal illness of the blood and bone marrow. He was given three years to live. After much prayer and soul searching, my wife and I decided that we needed to move closer to home. Seeing our family only two or three times a year was no longer right for us. Our current Church was really supportive when we decided that we would begin looking for a new Church family. I kept them in the loop early and often in my decision making process and they allowed me to remain employed while I looked for another Church. In exchange, I have been able to aid the Church in their transition to a new youth pastor. It has been a bittersweet process but we have somehow managed to keep a family here in North Carolina while acquiring a new one in Virginia. Through these experiences, I learned a couple of truths that may be helpful to anyone exploring the possibility of making a move in THIS economy.

1. Be Transparent. Let your Church know what you are thinking and feeling (assuming this is an environment that is not so toxic that this isn’t a real possibility), and let them know that you are going to begin looking for another ministry, but that for the time you remain committed to this one and will do everything in your power to aid a smooth and graceful transition. (If you are fearing your job may not be around for much longer, knowing you are leaving willingly in a couple of months may save your Church from having to make an abrupt decision).

2. Fish on the other side of the boat!
There’s plenty of youth ministry jobs if you are willing to look beyond your usual spot! I didn’t want to look outside of my denomination but that meant I had to look outside my home state. Maybe you are attached to home but not to a denomination. Decide what you value and don’t get hung up on the rest! I have a Caucasian friend who is at an all African American church. They love him to death (but tease him to no end)! How many of us would overlook an opportunity we thought was for “somebody else”.

3. Distinguish yourself.
If you can make a resume in the form of a comicbook (along with your real “grown up” one), a video resume with youth testimonials, or write an eloquent essay, or whatever your thing is… DO IT! You’ll get an interview.

4. Go the extra mile. My Church in North Carolina still talks about how I drove 8 hours to be present for a job interview when they offered to do it over the phone.

5. Be willing to say, “NO.” Just because a Church is open does not mean it’s where you need to be. I visited a church several months ago where the pastor was really impressed with me. I knew I would have the job if I wanted it. But as he took me around and showed me the facility, he whispered conspiratorially about all the political back and forth in the congregation: who didn’t like the gym and why, how pastor so and so toe the congregation in half, and how they had fired the youth pastor (an older man) but hired him as the janitor (awkward…). Oh, and you’ll be the latest in a line of two year youth pastors dating back to 1992 when St. Awesome left. RED FLAG!!! Driving home, I told my wife, “I know you’re in a hurry to be home, but there were definite signs of dysfunction. I think we’d be miserable there.” The next morning, the Pastor from the Church that eventually hired me called. You don’t want to be moving again in two or three years, so make sure you are moving where God wants you to move.

I hope these thought were helpful to everyone who is in a similar situation of having to pursue God’s will in the midst of a really tough market. In the end, though, this economy isn’t really different than any other economy. God always takes care of those whom He has called and if we pray in humility and follow His direction, He will show us what He has for us. Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and the other stuff will work itself out. But to be on the safe side, my mother would want you to know that you should wear a tie to your interview.

Danny Nettleton
is a youth pastor and blogger who originally wrote an incredible comment on this post that turned into a request for the full guest post you just read.



Youth leaders are vital to the success of your ministry. We all would admit that we cannot build a healthy student ministry without leaders! We all need leaders and volunteers no matter what size student ministry you may have. Here are my thoughts on ways to keep your youth workers on board with your vision and your ministry:
  1. Build a healthy relationship with them- When you recruit youth workers, choose people who you can have a relationship with. One of the coolest things about our youth leaders is that most of my wife and I’s closest friends serve in our student ministry. So, we have some strong relationships with the ones who are in there! If you want to keep youth leaders long-term, you need to have a relationship with them.
  2. Listen to their feedback- I came from a small church where we had 30 students and a few youth leaders that I personally recruited. I basically started the youth group from scratch and the Lord blessed. Then, He moved me to a different church with about 75 students and about 25 youth leaders. They knew the system way better than I did. One thing that I tried to do and still do is listen to their feedback and ideas. Some youth pastors have a way of doing things, and they are not open to ideas from their youth leaders. This is something that turns people away from serving in your ministry so listen to their feedback, and do not be afraid to use their idea and give them the credit!
  3. Show them that they are appreciated. I am reading a book right now called, “life in student ministry” by Tim Schmoyer, and he constantly is hitting me hard about praising your youth leaders! This is a great way to keep youth leaders with you. They must feel like their ministry is important to you. They must know that you appreciate them. Try your best to pay for their ministry stuff. Our budget cannot handle paying for every youth leader for every event, but we try to cut cost for leaders and be a blessing to them. If we had the budget to pay for every leader, I for sure would take that and apply it! Shower your leaders with gifts and blessings. We just had our Christmas party, and we got each leader a Christmas photo of their entire small group. It was not too expensive, and it means a lot to our leaders. They must know that they are appreciated if they are going to serve with you long-term.
  4. Your heart must be fleshed out- Volunteer youth leaders do not want to serve in your ministry if they cannot see that you genuinely have a heart for your students! They must see your heart, passion, and enthusiasm for this ministry lived out!
  5. Cast vision regularly- Vision is not something that you cast once a year! This is something that the leaders need to be reminded about over and over again! They must hear where you feel God wants to take the youth group. You must cast is regularly, and you must live out the goals and vision that you are casting!
  6. Train them- Leader training is so important. This is something that we are working on, but we are going to try to improve even more on. Your leaders need training. We always have areas that need improvement, and you need to provide this for your leaders. They also need to be humble enough to be willing to go through some training.
  7. Pray with them- There is nothing better than having a relationship with your youth leaders where you can drop down and pray with them. You both need this relationship! Ask them how you can pray for them and their families! They need to be assured that you are praying for them outside of youth group.
  8. Model their job description- Many times we have a job description for youth leaders that we as the youth pastor hardly hold! The youth leaders need to see you living out the Christian life as well as the job description and standard that you hold them too.
  9. Let them lead- Many times youth pastors want to do things themselves. We are human, and we struggle with being on an inward power trip thinking that we can do things better than the youth leaders. If you give them a responsibility, allow them the authority to carry it out.
  10. Support them- You must support them from the pulpit of your church as well as from the pulpit of your student ministry. They must know that they are supported by their student pastor. Support them in front of the students and take their side on issues unless it is a moral problem on their part. They must feel supported.

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.

Looking for a youth ministry position? Is your church looking for a youth pastor? Simply Youth Ministry has just launched their Youth Ministry Jobs site – might be a great place to start! Excited about the potential of this new tool …

JG



Its that time again. Doug Fields, Matt McGill, Katie Edwards, and Josh Griffin are here to answer your questions. After a discussion of Cracker Barrel Diners, Drive Thru and Dash (Doug almost got it right), and other places to eat while traveling, the gang jumps into your questions. Topics include: A special needs followup, new believers as volunteers, volunteer motivation, adding to your job description, family ministry, steak dinners, students attending multiple youth groups, and whats most vital in your ministry.

JG

I just spoke with my friend Justin Lathrop who let me know about a couple of great youth pastor openings that he is helping churches fill through HelpStaffMe and the William Vanderbloemen Group. One opportunity is for a larger church in California and the other is a good-size ministry in the South. Both are looking for experienced youth workers ready to make a move . Justin is going to be at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference this week if you’re here in Chicago, or you can click over to HelpStaff.Me and apply online.

If you’re interested in either position, or just want to work with them on potentially pairing you with a great church in the future, head over there and check them out. Good people, good opportunities.

JG



Job Position: Youth Ministry Cheerleader

Job Description: Encourage, build-up, affirm, applaud, bouy, comfort, strengthen, console, revitalize, energize, refresh, inspire and praise youth workers in your church.

Job Requirements: A heart and passion to encourage those who are working with the youth of the church. Spiritual gift of encouragement helpful but not required.

What would happen if this job description appeared in your church bulletin one week or in your local newspaper? What if such a position existed? What if there was someone whose only job was to affirm and build up youth workers?

Youth ministry is exhilarating, fun and unbelievable. It’s easy to get discouraged though since growth is often slower than you would like and you’re often in a role of planting or watering seeds without always getting to see them bear fruit. I know that for me, it’s often easy to lose sight of the forest while I’m focusing on the tree (planning a night, getting permission slips, cleaning up the broken lamp) that’s right in front of me.

I find myself wondering what would happen to my energy, passion and excitement if I had someone who was consistently reminding me what the forest looked like. This person would have no responsibilities to challenge, push, stretch, correct or mold. There are enough people that do that, are great at it and their presence is very much needed. I’m talking about someone who only encourages. How much different would your leadership team look like if there was someone who did nothing but affirm them? How much more effective would your ministry be if that person focused on energizing the leaders? Imagine the trickle down effect on your students if there was someone whose only job was to refresh leaders!

I recognize that encouraging leaders on my team starts with me and I like to think that I’ve gotten better at it over the years. Our team has put a special emphasis on spiritual gifts this year and using the gifts God has given you to serve. Encouragement is honestly one of the those gifts that I wish I had but struggle with sometimes. I’m a checklist driven, task master most of the time. I’m stunned by the possibilities of what my ministry would look like if I had someone who was skilled at encouragement and was passionate about using that gift with my leader team.

Anyone interested?

Buz is a special education teacher who passionately loves his ladies (wife and 2 daughters). They live in Spokane, Washington and you can check out his blog right here. His guest post was exactly what I’ve been feeling all week. Thanks, Buz!

Just talking to my friend Justin over at HelpStaff.Me and he mentioned an awesome new opening at LifeChurch.tv for a lead youth pastor at one of their campuses. This is something you might want to check out if you’re thinking God might be moving you on our you’re already searching. If there’s a church I would want to work for outside of Saddleback, it would sure be them! They’re on the leading edge of mult-site strategy and are a highly influential church. Here’s some of the details, head there for the rest:

LifeChurch.tv opened an exciting new campus in Yukon on Easter 2010. West of Oklahoma City in a community where many young families call home, you will find an incredible opportunity. Step into the role as the first youth pastor of this campus, which is running an average of 2300 on weekends. “It’s a blank canvass, we have a lot to work with, and the new youth pastor will have a chance to form the ministry and make it their own,” says campus pastor Scott Cornelius.

JG