Let's face it, not everyone is made to be a youth leader. Youth ministry is scary to some people. When you think about sitting in a room filled with junior high and high school students what comes to your mind? A room full of obnoxious, loud, full of energy kids? Well maybe that's the case, but what comes to my mind is a room full of young, eager to learn students. But that could be because I am a youth leader and feel that is one of the talents God has given me.
But that's not how I always felt...
If you would have asked me 3 years ago if I thought I would be a youth leader in the future, I would have said no. But it is interesting to see how God leads us throughout the our journey in life. Two years ago, my husband and I felt God's calling to become youth leaders. Now our church hasn't had a youth group since my husband and I were in high school (over 9 years ago). So we basically had to start from scratch.
So how do you build a youth group that hasn't met in years and has no foundation to go off of?
A lot of prayer! Let's face it, God answers prayer! We prayed for a couple months for God's leading before we even went to the church with our decision. We wanted to make sure this was God's leading and not just something we thought we should be doing. Once we felt like this was where we were supposed to be, we went to our Pastor and he prayed. Then we went before the church and the whole church prayed for a full year before we even launched the new youth group.
A lot of planning and research. The first thing we did was find a mentor. We contacted one of our old youth pastors who still does youth fro another church. We went to their meetings and sat in with the students. We also got involved in the events that they had going on. Another thing we did, we went to a youth leaders conference where we sat through seminars and learned different activities that we could take back with us and teach to our students. It was a great learning experience for the both of us. We also got to talk to other youth leaders and find out what worked and didn't work for them. We were like sponges!
Kick off event. In order to get the word out about a new youth group starting, we felt that we needed to do a big event. To promote the event, we made posters and postcards. The community has a parade during the summer and we handed out the postcards as we walked in the parade. We also had it on social media. We hired a guest speaker and a band to come out and do the worship and service part of event. Then we came up with different minute to win it type games with prizes. And of course don't forget the food! Youth love food!
Full involvement! Youth ministry takes full commitment. We don't just have our weekly meetings. We do events once a month outside of our normal meet time. And we also get involved in the activities our youth are in. For example, my husband and I attend their sporting events, music concerts, dance recitals, plays, etc. We want to make sure that our youth students know that we care about what is going on in their lives.
By doing all of this, our youth group started with 8 students at the very first meeting. After two years running, we have a total of 30 students! We would have never thought we would have this many students, but God is good!