A basic rule of thumb in ministry and life in general is that starting out right is better than learning from mistakes.  The following are six keys to starting out right in youth ministry will help keep you and your ministry in check. [Adapted from the Longevity in Youth Ministry breakout with Chris Edwards at the 2022 BCMN conference in Overland Park.]

  1.  Develop a track for your ministry. 
    1. Begin with the end in mind – what is your vision?
    2. Study God’s Word and other ministries.
    3. Make sure you and your pastor agree on the goal. 
    4. Make sure the track will produce a healthy ministry.
    5. Determine what will work and stick with it!
  2. Leave no doubt as to whom the leader is. 
    1. Start out tough; you can always “ease up”
    2. Never speak to inattention.
    3. Work hard at being an expert at what you do – give your adult leaders and teens someone worth following!
    4. Being liked is not the most important thing – they need a leader, not another buddy.
  3. Your home is your castle – don’t let it be constantly invaded. 
    1. A totally “open-door” policy is unwise.
    2. Show your family that they are the most important.
    3. You need time apart from the teens as a husband and a parent.  However, this principle would still ring true for a single person.
  4. Integrity is all-important 
    1. Always have a system for handling money.
    2. Avoid being anywhere alone with a teen of the opposite sex.
    3. When you make a promise, follow it through
    4. Return your phone calls.
  5. Listen and learn at every opportunity. 
    1. Surround yourself with wise counsel.
    2. Ask questions like “what has worked here before?”
    3. Be a reader – readers are leaders!
    4. At least consider criticism – you might learn something!
  6. In the back of your mind always think “parents”.