Youth ministry is tough. There are many ways to do youth ministry, many different types of youth leaders, and very little community to help you know if you are doing a good job or not. Here are six things you must be “doing” in order to be a good youth minister.
Prayer has by far been the the most fruitful discipline I have developed that has helped me in youth ministry. I think that 30 minutes of daily prayer is minimal for those who work in youth ministry. If possible, it should be done in front of the Eucharist.
Youth leaders are typically NOT readers. As as I moved around in different areas of ministry, I have found reading to be more and more fruitful. As I train and form leaders I can give them bite-size knowledge on what the Church teaches in regard to Discipleship and Evangelization but I do not think you can really grasp it until you put the time in to learn it in depth yourself. I can get people fired up about Discipleship and when they ask for more I can point them to a good book to start with (I have been recommending Forming Intentional Disciples lately), but when I check in months later they have not even opened it.
I give you permission to read (learn) during work. You should ask your pastor first if you think he might have a problem with it. I doubt he will.
People may take my online presence as a sign that I have too much time on my hands. The truth is, I work my tail off every second I am in the office. Just because you think you are getting paid less than you think you should be and there is usually no one looking over your shoulder, you do not have the right to slack off during office time. I work like crazy during my office time so I can go home and enjoy my time with family. There is never enough time to do everything we should be doing in youth ministry, so stop wasting it!
I do spend time online on Facebook and Twitter, but it is for set periods of time and it is with a purpose to check in on what others are doing and talking about. It is good not only to learn from others, but sharing your own knowledge and wisdom with others will help build a confidence in what you are doing as well. We have a great group on Facebook for Catholic Youth Ministry Discussion.
I was inspired recently to evangelize more outside of work. I spend so much time teaching others to evangelize but I find it difficult to do in life outside of ministry. Beginning this week I have committed myself to do things that will give me the wisdom and experiences of evangelization that will give a more true witness when I am encouraging others.
I think that the biggest thing that gets in the way in Catholic youth ministry is the leaders. Being truly open means that you are ready at any time if God has a completely different plan for your ministry than what you are doing right now or hope to do in the future. Get out of the way!
I know these are not the only five things that make you a good Catholic youth leader, what are some others? Please share in the comments below!