I’ll never forget the handful of men from the church that drove a U Haul truck up to my house to move us. Misha and I had packed everything. We had it all boxed up and marked the boxes with what room. We were ready for them by having all the furniture in the living room and all the boxes in the front bedroom. The men showed up and loaded all our belongings into the truck. Misha and I loaded the dogs and cats in our car and pick up truck and walked out of our house that we owned to head off to a house the church would be renting for us.
When we arrived after the several hour drive there was a crew waiting at the house for us. Ready to unload the truck. People were carrying boxes and furniture and asking us where to put things. Some ladies organized the kitchen with our dishes and kitchen stuffs, it’s always fun trying things in the kitchen because you didn’t unpack the kitchen, someone else did.
The church was excited for us to be there. They had been so long without a youth pastor they were ready for one and they settled for me.
I remember unpacking what little bit of books I had in my office at the church. I had never had an office in a church before. This was all new to me.
I sat behind my desk and it hit me. Now what do I do? Remember I had no education or schooling in the area of youth ministry. I had read some books and had hands on experience. That was it. What next?
So if you are the new youth pastor here are a few suggestions:
Get to know the church. It takes time to get to know the people. Learn who the leaders whether they are official leaders or the unofficial leaders. Look to build relationships with the key power brokers in the church. Meet them for lunch or coffee. Figure out how to get invited to their house for Sunday lunch. Invite them to your home for Sunday lunch.
Get to know the Pastor. It takes time to build a relationship. I was blessed in that the first pastor I worked with was such a super guy and easy to build that relationship with. I enjoyed his company from the get go and we “clicked”. Ask your pastor to carve out even a half hour or a lunch with you each week so he can give you an “orientation” of the church. He knows the Ins and outs of the congregation, who you want on your side, who will be a negative critic of everything you do.
Get to know the students. Plan some simple but fun events where you can spend time with the students and get to know them. Drop in and have lunch with them at school if the school allows. Open campus? Great! Meet them for lunch at Taco Joe’s. Have conversations that ask open ended questions.
Get to know the parents. If your group is small you have the luxury of meeting some parents for dinner or inviting them over. If your group is large you may want to plan a “get to know you” event and fellowship together but also find out what the parents are expecting from you and let them know what you expect from them.
Discover Direction. You are going to need to discover the direction of the youth ministry and where to take the ministry next. Start thinking about a teaching scope, what will you be teaching the next several months to a year. As you get to know the students better you will know better where to take them in the future. Down the road a bit you can plan out your teaching that will cover from the sixth grade all the way to the senior year, after all you plan on being there a long time. Right?