10 Ways To Start Strong
By Gerrard Fess
You sent in your resume, did the telephone interview, met face-to-face with the search committee, and passed the congregational vote. Now, all you have to do is actually start your job as the new ministry leader. Between unpacking boxes in your new house, trying to remember the names of the church members you've met, and starting a new life, here are a few other things to remember when you start a new ministry:
1. Know what is expected of you by getting your job description in writing. Also, make sure that you have a job contract. You want to be positive, but it could protect both you and the church down the line.
2. An organized office is an office of organized chaos. Being able to actually find your expense report cultivates better relationships with the administrative forces-that-be.
3. Spend time building relationships with the others on staff. Take them out to lunch or invite their family over for dinner. Know their giftedness. Spend time together building a team--the more united you are, the better.
4. Meet the parents and get feedback on what they want their kids to get out of youth group. By building relationships with the parents, you can gain their trust. Don't you want to know who's teaching your child?
5. Build your ministry team. Get to know your youth leaders. Find out what traditions are important to the group and build on those. Also, encourage leaders to take part in what you are planning for the future. You may even want to schedule a youth ministry planning retreat, even if you only spend the day brain-storming at someone's house.
6. Get to know your students; youth ministry is all about them, right? Identify your student leaders and purposely building into them through mentoring and disciple. Make sure you every activity and lesson you plan has a purpose, even if the purpose is just to build relationships.
7. Don't change things right away. Spend the first couple of months observing the group and looking at the overall picture. Find out what works and what doesn't work. When it comes time to revamp, make sure your senior pastor is on board with the changes. Find ways to use your volunteers effectively so that they are using their gifts for the glory of God. If you see another ministry as a better fit for a volunteer, prayerfully consider whether or not you should discuss this option with him or her. Remember, you are in charge. However, it takes time to implement your vision into the youth ministry.
8. Network! What's more fun that having lunch with a bunch of youth workers? You can share ideas, rants, plan special events together, and offer accountability to one another, and it counts as work! Build long-lasting friendships outside your congregation.
9. Have a resource library. Build it to suit your own ministry needs. Youth ministry conventions are a great way to learn about new products, ministry philosophies, and resources. Plus, you can even snag a few freebies!
10. Take time out to explore your own spiritual journey. If you aren't feeding your own spiritual needs, how can you feed others?