How to Become a Youth Minister
Clergy work is on the rise, with the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics expecting a 6% increase in ministries in the next six years. This expected growth suggests that youth ministers will experience a higher demand for their work in the next decade.
Becoming a youth pastor is hard work. A youth ministry is a religious community or group of an age-specific grade, usually between 16 and 30 years. This often includes active participation in Christian youth leadership conferences, outreach and evangelization, and community involvement. To lead this kind of ministry, you must learn to serve your followers’ social and spiritual needs.
With that said, here’s how you can become a youth minister.
Through God’s Calling
Before you embark on your journey into leading a youth ministry, you must ensure that it is God’s purpose for you. If it is God’s calling, it will be apparent, recurring, and confirmed by others. Leading a group of people in Christ should not be a personal decision but a spiritual one taken for you. You can work in various capacities in the youth ministry and pursue another career if it is a personal desire. However, if God ordained you to lead the church, it should become your career.
Many youth pastors struggle to effectively lead their congregation because they throw themselves into the role. Success in youth ministry is beyond having good interpersonal skills as you stand in the gap for your congregation before God. This role means that you have to be chosen by God to be able to represent Him and his word before his congregation effectively.
In addition to God’s calling, many churches require prospective youth pastors to have an educational degree. The degree may vary, but a bachelor’s degree in the field of theology, biblical studies, or philosophy is what most employers require. There are also theological and youth ministry-related programs and worship leader camps focusing on counseling, teaching, and many other biblical concepts.
Besides having a bachelor’s degree in a biblical studies-related field, most employers will require you to have experience teaching teenagers and youths. Obtaining a seminary education and applying it to teenagers are very different and can prove challenging. Your youth congregation will come from very diverse backgrounds, and some will require more attention than others. Experience as a high school teacher, tutor, or youth community coordinator in any capacity is always very persuasive to employers who need conviction of your ability to manage the age grade.
Furthermore, you must educate yourself with God’s word. Although seemingly apparent, it is easy for a youth minister to become so distracted by the social and educational side of the job that the spiritual element takes a back seat. There is no better manual to help you effectively execute your role than the bible. Therefore, as the youth pastor, you must continually educate yourself on biblical teachings to be able to answer questions your congregation might have effectively and correctly.
Understand Your Role
The next stage is to understand your role as a youth pastor. As a youth pastor, you will, in all likelihood, be required to present sermons and lead Bible study groups, and give counseling. It would be best if you discussed the specifics of your role with your employer. Some churches expect youth pastors to draw up annual schedules containing numerous youth-centered events. Others expect you to execute existing programs and introduce new ones. So it is essential to know the freedoms and constraints of your role.
As a youth minister, the church may mandate you to take counseling sessions not just for teens but also with their parents. Teenagers and young adults are at the crucial decision-making stages of their lives, and being their youth pastor entails guiding them through making good decisions and choices. Your congregation must feel connected to you despite the degrees and training, or you will be unable to lead them effectively.
That connection will entail conflict resolution. Your role in resolving conflicts can encompass anything from mediating inter-denominational disputes to resolving parent-child conflicts, sibling conflicts, or other family-related conflicts. So be sure it is in your job description, so you do not overstep.
Additionally, churches may require youth ministers to become full ministers and undertake relevant roles. These roles can include leading prayer sessions for the congregation, maintaining working relationships in various other departments, and achieving community goals.
Acquire Relevant Skills
Once you have understood your role, the next phase will be to acquire relevant skills that suit the role. It is important to note at this juncture that skill acquisition is entirely different from educational training. While you may have good academic training in religious studies and related courses, you will need many skills to apply your education to practical solutions.
The first skill you should have as a youth pastor is public speaking. It’s a no-brainer that you will have to regularly deliver sermons, teachings, and motivational speeches to your young congregation as a youth minister. Addressing teenagers and youths can be tricky as you have to manage their short attention spans. It would help if you researched ways to keep their attention for extended periods to better control noise and side chatter so that what you are speaking is not lost on them. Listen to other preachers, teachers, and speakers to sharpen your public speaking skills.
A second relevant youth minister skill is counseling. Being a youth pastor is majorly about managing relationships and helping your congregation make good choices. To do this, you will have to take several counseling sessions with individuals and subgroups. Conflict resolution is also a significant part of the job, as mentioned earlier. Formal training in counseling and mediation can be hugely beneficial in this regard.
Approachability is equally as important. It takes skill to be open and approachable. As a youth minister, you will want your congregation to be able to approach you for any reason at all, whether it be for advice, to voice a complaint, or to make a suggestion. You must be friendly, calm, and, most significantly, non-judgemental. This skill will help you more effectively relate to teenagers and their parents or guardians.
Lastly, you have to be dynamic. Dynamism in the sense of keeping up with the times to better relate with your congregation. You have to keep abreast of the latest trends to understand how to better communicate with your community and identify potential threats to their faith.