What in the world am I doing here? I fumbled my way through the Sunday morning lesson while 50 teens chatted and ignored me completely. I couldn’t do this. Why would God put me here where I was obviously not wanted?
Three years after we left volunteer youth ministry, God called us back in. This time as the leaders.
Our church had been without a lead pastor for around six months, and now their beloved youth pastor was moving on. They needed someone to keep the youth ministry going until pastors could be hired. For some crazy reason, God called my husband and me.
It was one of the hardest, sweetest, trying, and tearful 14 months of my life. It was wonderful.
The world of youth ministry was not foreign to us, but the world of leading one was. Without the proper training, our education came from the trenches. Here’s a little of what we discovered:
Own your ministry.
When we came in, we miserably attempted to recreate all the activities that everyone was so fond of. Every single one of them bombed. After about two months we realized that we had to be who we were. Things went much more smoothly after that.
God will provide.
I was convinced that God had closed that door forever on working with teens, and being back was not really where my heart was. I asked God to give me a love for these students because I simply didn’t have it in me. He was faithful to pour that into me, so much so that as the weight of it came over me, I second guessed that desire!
Establish healthy boundaries.
It didn’t take long for ministry to take over many areas of our lives, blurring some of our boundaries and creating a mess. My husband and I had to learn to respect each other and our differences. We established stronger time boundaries which also helped us in our personal lives.
Youth ministry is hard.
Yes, you know that. But seriously, volunteer sponsors really have no idea! We spent hours and hours helping, working, and serving in youth ministry, but still had no idea how much harder it is to be the guy in charge! It’s extraordinarily hard. And every youth pastor/director should be given something really awesome, like ice cream.
Simple can be good.
With our lack of proper training, an existing full time job, and not as many volunteers as we would like (can I hear an amen?) our students had to fill in the gaps. The amazing thing about this was that they did. And they were awesome! They learned and grew right alongside us. They got to experience the difficulties and take ownership of their ministry.
The biggest thing I learned was that God is in control and working bigger and better things than I can ever imagine.
I am just thankful he let me have a part in it.
Melissa Duggan just wrapped up a year of working as the Interim Youth Director at her church and is now (again) happily being the support guy in student ministry.