10 Steps for Starting a Youth Ministry

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Teenager Reading a Book
Youth group ministry start-up is such an exciting time–and totally overwhelming. Even seasoned youth workers may feel nervous about getting things organized in a cohesive manner. Not only should things need to be clear in your own mind but workers and attendees need to know which way your group is headed. You need step-by-step instructions to get your ministry started smoothly. Follow this handy checklist of 10 steps for starting a youth group in your church.
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1. Build On Prayer
This basic tenet shouldn’t be glossed over especially during the foundational period of the ministry. You may hours of prayer under your belt and prayed hard just to get here but now that you have–continue in prayer! What a great time to enlist the help of prayer warriors who you’ll need throughout the life of your ministry. As always, lead by example and pray regularly for your youth group.
2. Gather Key Leaders
Make mental and spiritual notes about potential key leaders in your youth ministry. Don’t offer positions; instead spend time with your leadership through social events with teens and adults that have a “heart” for youth. Solidify your relationship and discuss involving them in upcoming events.
3. Have a Specific Vision
A solid, narrow vision is necessary to starting a youth ministry. If your ministry is part of a church, the youth ministry vision should complement the overall vision of the house. Write out the vision on a notebook then spend some time making it “tighter” more easy to grasp in a few sentences. For example, a vision of “Healing the broken, abused teens in our community with the Word of God and a strong fellowship of believers,” could become, “Mending Broken Teens.”
4. Develop a Plan
Coming out of the gate strong is good but what happens after that? You’ll need a plan. Create a 1 year, 5 year and 10 year plan for your ministry. Then prepare to change as God reveals more about His purpose and plan. It is His ministry after all!
5. Involve Other Ministries
Make your ministry big. Teach youth how important unity is by involving your group with the big picture. Tap into strong local, youth ministries by attending events and being available for volunteer opportunities. Be confident in your group’s loyalty and purpose. Teach teens that building relationships outside your church is important.
6. Delegate Important Roles
You’ll be tempted to dot every “i” and cross every “t” but resist temptation. Don’t aim for perfection at every event and meeting. Delegate non-essential tasks and roles to others and give them a chance to contribute. Everything won’t be done perfectly but it will get done and your teens and volunteers will enjoy some ministry “ownership.”
7. Involve the Church
Obviously if you are building a church youth ministry you’ll need church support. If your youth ministry is church-based you’ll need to talk to the Senior Pastor long before this step. Once the ball is rolling, you’ll have lots of opportunities to involve the church at large. Publish important updates in the church bulletins, make announcements and invite adults to visit.
8. Set a Start Date
Pick a start date and stick to it. Plan ahead for your charter event–don’t plan a kick off “on the fly.” Build a sense of expectation for your teens and volunteers.
9. Re-evaluate and Refocus
Prepare to refocus quickly if needed. Expect roadblocks and obstacles on your ministry journey. Keep your vision in focus but understand that changing tactics to achieve it could be necessary.
10. Persevere and Rest
Teen ministry requires commitment, constantly. Persevere and stay on the wall but also know when to unplug. Besides meeting the spiritual needs of teens and their families, you’ll need to love and care for yours. Be in the moment whether working or resting. Persevere but don’t neglect your own spiritual needs for rest and refilling.

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