Upon graduating from Bible college, I drove nine hundred miles pulling a U-Haul behind my 1977 Plymouth to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. When I arrived at Central Baptist Church, where I was to be the youth pastor, I asked the custodian where my office was. “I didn’t think you were coming until next week,” was his reply. How defeating and humbling! I began unloading my things in the church printing room which was soon converted into the youth office. With no schedule, no friends, and no job description, what do you do upon arrival?
1. Make an Appointment with the Pastor
Ask him to give you a job description. Find out what your hours, boundaries, and duties are. Be specific in your questions. You want to please your boss. It is his ministry, and you are privileged to share in it.
2. Give Your Expectations to God
If God led you to that position, let Him plan it. “I didn’t think it would be that way” will be a disappointing attitude with which to start.
3. Make a Good First Impression
You never get a second chance to make a first impression! Your first meeting with the teens is extremely important. Plan for it. Let it be exciting and well organized. Look your sharpest!
4. Don’t Compare
The book of First Corinthians tells us that we are unwise to compare. Your gifts and abilities will differ from your predecessor. I had big shoes to fill as I followed a youth pastor who was Mr. Music, Mr. Looks, Mr. Personality, and Mr. Sports. I was none of those.
5. Do Not Criticize Your Predecessor
“Criticize by building something better” is the only philosophy that will work in your ministry. Do not feel intimidated by those who continually bring up, “Here’s the way Brother So-and-so used to do it.”
6. Brag on Your Predecessor for a Few Weeks and Then Cease
You owe a debt to him for how much he invested in the teens.
7. Tell the Teens That You Aren’t Him and Cannot Take His Place
Elisha was simply Elijah’s servant. As it stands, his ministry surpasses Elijah’s. Be the best that you can be. Reach your potential.
8. You Must Have Quick, Evident Successes
Psalm 1:3, Joshua 1:8, and John 15 speak of the fruit and success the man who walks with God has. Have souls down the aisle and in the baptistery regularly! Win the hard kids! Have answers to prayer! Double the teen attendance! Teens want to be identified with success not failure!
9. Have a Well-Organized First Activity
Start on time. Make it fun. Have all the bases covered. End on time. Arrive back at the church on time. You’re building the youth group’s name.
10. Be Slow Making Best Friends
Don’t be labeled as being “best friends” with anyone. Everyone needs you! You are identified by who you run with. Time will reveal to you who in the church you ought to run with.
11. Have No Favorites
Let the teens know you love them all, but will be spending more time with the leaders and those who are serious about practicing what is taught.
12. Make Your Own Histories
Make many memories for the kids. After a while the teens ought to be telling about what you are teaching rather than the past worker.
13. Get a Camera
Taking pictures shows teens that you love them. It also lets them know that you are planning on staying awhile.
14. Do Your Homework
Find out what resources are available to you. Ask questions so you know what teaching and activities the kids have been exposed to in recent years.
15. Dress and Act with Dignity
Let the teens be proud to identify with you. Don’t be worldly. Be sharp. Be appropriate. Work clothes for work, sports clothes for activities, and dress clothes for church.
16. Don’t Shoot Sacred Cows
There may be a favorite camp the teens have gone to the last ten years. If it’s not for the best, slowly convince the pastor, parents, and teens of it.
17. Get Busy Preparing Your Printed Materials
Have your letterhead, business cards, tracts, youth brochures, and form letters printed.
18. If You Don’t “Feel” Like the Youth Worker Yet, Just Hang On
If you keep doing what you ought to do, the feeling will follow. Especially, if you are new in town, you feel like everyone is staring at you! Let it become your city, your pastor, your church, and your teens.
This article is taken from the book Called or Crazy by Mike Ray.