There are many things you can do right as a youth pastor to make sure your student ministry grows and thrives. But, there are also many things you can do wrong that could negatively affect your ministry. With this in mind, here are four things you should avoid doing as a youth pastor for the betterment of your students and your student ministry.
- Never keep students from attending the main Sunday morning service. In the past several years, many churches have started offering environments for students to attend during the Sunday worship service times. However, there are many negative repercussions that result from this strategy. First, it negatively affects intergenerational learning. Or, in other words, it doesn’t allow students to worship and learn with their parents, mentors, and other older, wiser people in the church from whom they can learn. Additionally, studies show that if students are not in the habit of attending the main Sunday morning service at church, they are less likely to stay involved in church after they graduate high school. This is why it’s so important to encourage students to attend Sunday morning service and offer student-specific environments at other times.
- Don’t worry about how many students are in your youth group. In an age that values numbers and attendance, it can be super tempting to get discouraged when your youth group doesn’t fill an auditorium. But don’t be discouraged! Whether you have 10 students in your youth group or 100, those are the students God has given you to shepherd at this time in this season. Remember, Jesus spent a significant part of His ministry mentoring and pouring wisdom into only 12 people. Think about the impact He made on His disciples, and focus your time and energy on shepherding those in hour care, no matter how few or how many.
- Don’t make students feel guilty about missing a youth group meeting. It is not uncommon that students today are involved in a multitude of activities. Between sports, clubs, homework, family gatherings, and jobs, students are juggling many things. So, if you have a student who can’t come to the youth group due to other commitments, don’t make them feel guilty for missing. Instead, show them you’re glad to see them when they are able to attend and ask them how their various activities are going. Maybe even attend a show or a game if you can. Either way, students are going to feel much more encouraged to come back if they feel welcomed when they attend rather than condemned for when they don’t attend.
- Don’t shy away from preaching the Word of God. This might sound like a no-brainer, but sometimes it can be tempting to only preach about what’s cool and trendy rather than talking about topics that could be seen as offensive or unpopular in today’s culture. But remember, the Gospel in and of itself is offensive. It’s likely going to make some people feel uncomfortable. However, it’s not your job to control how people react to the message of God’s Word. Your only responsibility is to communicate it in its entirety and let the Holy Spirit take care of the rest. So, remain faithful in what you preach and ask the Holy Spirit to give you strength and courage to share the truth, even if the truth isn’t cool or popular.