Monday, August 31, 2009

5 Year Youth Ministry Contract: Students (5 of 5)

This is post #5 of the 5 Year Youth Ministry Contract. If you have not already read the first four posts, you'll want to read them before reading this one. Read the introduction first, followed by my thoughts on the youth minister difference, my thoughts on the church leadership & staff difference and then my thoughts on the church membership difference.

In this post, we will look at the difference a five-year commitment would make for the students.

The Students Difference

Anyone who has been in youth ministry for more than a few years knows that the best ministry happens after you have been at the same place for an extended period of time.

This might be the biggest difference of any we've talked about so far. I think the students will greatly benefit from knowing the youth minister will be there for at least five years. Will it make it easy for them to open up emotionally right away? No. But it will make it easier for them to trust the youth minister and know this relationship will last more than six months.

Students are used to people coming in and out of their life, which causes some of them to shut down emotionally and relationally. They do not want to open up and allow an adult to know what they really struggle with if they do not know they adult will be around in nine months. When a student knows the youth minister will be around for years, they do not have to worry about having another broken relationship with someone who claimed to care about them.

Beyond the improvement in the student/youth minister relationships, I think there is an even greater benefit for the students - one they will not immediately identify. In fact, this benefit might be one they are never able to verbalize until well after they are out of the youth ministry. The unidentifiable benefit is the intentional long-range planning for the ministry; including a systematic progression of lessons, purposeful retreats and events and an intentional discipleship ministry. Not to mention the improved ministry of the volunteers, thanks to more training and encouragement.

As students remain with the same youth minister year after year, there will be more opportunities for ministry. When talking with their friends, the students will talk highly of the youth minister and create some instant credibility among their peers. This credibility will allow the youth minister more access to minister to those friends and become a positive influence into their lives. The more students and friends of students are benefiting from the youth ministry, the impact of the youth ministry will increase exponentially. And when a tragedy occurs, the students in the community will know they can turn to your youth ministry for support and direction.

One last benefit comes from a deepening of the relationship between the youth minister and the students. As the relationships grow, I believe it will result in more memories for the students. There will be more opportunities for ongoing jokes, funny moments and more laughter. And this increased joy at youth ministry events will not only benefit the students, but also the youth minister and other adults involved.

Are there negatives for the students?

One of the only negatives I can think of would happen for those students entering high school after the youth minister's fifth year of ministry. They would be entering into a high school ministry ready to minister to their needs, but there would be no guarantee the youth minister will be there for their graduation.

What other differences do you think a five year commitment would make for the students?
Do you think the students would benefit from having a youth minister with this commitment to a local ministry?

Posts in this series:
1. The Introduction
2. The Youth Minister Difference
3. The Church Leadership/Staff Difference
4. The Church Membership Difference
5. The Students Difference


  1. I was blessed to have a youth pastor who had spent 13 years at my church in high school. Unfortunately, the 14th year was my senior year. The first 3 years of my high school career were great, though. I still keep in contact with him after all these years.

    I also worked for a youth director in college who going into his 16th year (I think) in Fort Worth.

    I hope to have a similar sort of stint at my church.

  2. Nick, I'm just glad you didn't say that one of the high schoolers was there for all 13 years :)

    curious - how did his leaving affect that senior year? Do you think it was better since he had been there so long or did it make it harder?

    Longevity is the way to go - I just wish more youth ministers & churches would see that (and work through the tough times, instead of giving up)