Thursday, April 28, 2016

How It Started

Twenty-Four years ago I was sitting in a small church in a small town in Oklahoma.  I was already fully involved in the ministry by running the sound each Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday evening.   Yes, our church met three times a week, yes many times I wish we weren’t meeting.  I often went to church out of commitment but not out of desire, often out of a sense of obligation. (that’s another blog post in and of itself)

During my few years at this small church I watched the youth Sunday School class, which consisted of a handful of students, get a new Sunday School teacher each year and sometimes more than one teacher each year.  I had absolutely no desire to teach.  I had absolutely no desire to work with youth.  BUT I understood that as a member of that church I had a responsibility to do whatever needed to be done.  Sometimes you serve because it just needs to be done.  Its better and more enjoyable to serve when it fits your *SHAPE.

I found myself sitting in a room in the church with 5 teenage faces staring back at me.  So like any good Southern Baptist teacher I cracked open the quarterly and started teaching.  I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the best teacher, I wasn’t the most prepared teacher but I knew I could give these students some stability and not see them handed off to a different teacher once or more per year.

Over time I started to get the hang of it.  I even started to enjoy teaching students.  Next thing I knew I was going with them to summer camp, taking them to amusement parks and planning events and activities.  A gentlemen in our church donated a storefront for us to have a “youth center”, a place for students to hang out.

I never had this moment in life where I knew, “When I grow up I want to be a youth pastor”.  I literally fell into the calling.  I volunteered and then eventually realized that this is what God wanted me to do full time with my life.  I remember our little church paid my way to go to Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth for a youth ministry conference.  That weekend conference was confirmation.

The next step was to figure out what to do.   How do I become a youth pastor at a church?  I was already a youth minister because I was ministering to students.

How did it start for you?
When did you sense God’s calling on your life for youth ministry?

Thoughts for you if you are just getting started on the youth ministry journey:

Be open - You never know what God might have in store for you.  Be open to God’s leading and direction.  He may change the direction you are heading.  He may want you to do something totally different from you thought you might want to do. 

Volunteer - If you are at that point where you know you want to minister to students then roll up your sleeves and volunteer in your own church until God opens the opportunity he has for you.

Don’t rush - Let God take the lead.  Be patient for His timing.  What He has planned for you is best and you don’t want to get in the way of that.

Read - Get your hands on some books about youth ministry and read.

Research - What are churches looking for in a student minister?  Do some digging, ask some questions, talk with some youth pastors for their input.

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