The teenage years of life can be some of the hardest years to navigate due to social and peer pressures, school drama, and the normal process of transitioning from a teenager to an adult. As a youth pastor, at a church like Crossroads Baptist Church, your job is to help the students within your youth group navigate that tricky time by teaching them to rely on God, reach out to others, and live their lives through the focus of love. The words to describe that task can span a wide variety of descriptions, from fun and amazing to challenging and (at times) stressful. In the midst of everyday ministry, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by different aspects of what you have been called to do, but don't give up-- even when you make a mistake. In order to limit your mistakes, consider setting up some rules for yourself. Here are three mistakes you can decide in advance you'll avoid:
Never Be Alone With a Member of the Opposite Sex
It may sound crazy to say that you'll never be alone with a youth group member of the opposite sex for any reason, but it's not only smart-- it's become a necessity of the modern age. With stories of youth ministers who have been wrongly accused of sexual abuse, making sure that you're never alone with a member of the opposite sex ensures that no one can ever make up a fake story about your intentions or actions. Even though it might seem easier to give a kid a ride home who needs one after youth group, it's best to bring along someone else in the car-- just to cover your bases.
Don't Focus on Numbers
In the modern American world, businesses and individuals have become obsessed with numbers, stressing that "bigger is better" and that larger numbers of participants are the ultimate reflection of your worth. It can be easy to see yourself as "lesser" if you have a small youth group with low attendees-- but Jesus himself warned that very few people would choose the Christian life, so it shouldn't necessarily come as a surprise. Focus on the students you do have and pour love into their lives, and your youth group will eventually naturally grow as a result.
You Are Not a Machine
You may have gotten the feeling that you need to know everyone, please everyone, and build strong relationships with every single person in your church. The truth is, you are not a machine and no one can be best friends with everyone. In other words, keep in mind that you can't have strong relationships with every single person, and the more people you stretch your ministry to, the less you'll be able to connect with each individual. Jesus himself reached out to the world, but only had a close group of 12 friends-- and even within that group, he chose a specific three to connect with on an even deeper level. Be sure to enlist the help of some trustworthy adults who can act as youth leaders, each of them connecting with a specific set of kids, as you build relationships within the youth group.