The Disciplines of Youth Ministry

Our team has been challenged to think about the rhythms of our work week in order to work together more effectively. As I was looking over a “typical” week in ministry (if there is such a thing) I noticed some recurring themes. There are a few weekly habits that I do every week and I keep doing them in order to have a vibrant life in ministry.

In the Christian life we have daily/weekly/monthly/yearly habits that help us remain connected to our Creator. In student ministry I have habits, or disciplines, that keep me going in the right direction. I’m not saying that my list is the best list, but it’s worked for me and might spur on thoughts for your own life. Some of these disciplines didn’t come naturally early on in my ministry but through constant practice they have become a natural part of my life. That’s what a discipline does, it trains us to become natural at what doesn’t come naturally.

Discipline # 1 – Planned Inefficiency. I realize that inefficiency can have a negative connotation in the American church. We strive for effective time management and productivity. The problem is that when I get to the end of the week and have not slowed down to read/think/pray I end up losing my creative edge and my passion. At the surface, slowing down for reflection seems like the worst use of time, but in the long run it fills my well with great ideas and new ministry direction. So my discipline is to spend at least two hours a week in prayer/reading/reflecting to create the mindset I need.

Discipline # 2 – Time With Teens. This is an obvious one so I’ll make it short. It’s amazing how many youth pastors I know of who don’t spend time with teens of any sort. I don’t get it. It’s like the restaurant owner who never stops to taste a meal. I NEED regular time with teens or else I will go crazy. That’s how I know I still love student ministry. Middle schoolers keep me sane. So my discipline is that I get together for breakfast once a week with a small group of guys. It’s the highlight of my week.

Discipline # 3 – Parent Communication. Each Tuesday I send out a parent email. The content is information, training and encouragement. I’ve found that having this weekly discipline keeps ministry to parents on the forefront of my mind. It reminds me weekly that an effective ministry engages, equips, and partners with parents.

Discipline # 4 – Leader Development. My leaders need constant care and empowerment. If I let even one week go by without engaging them then I am draining the lifeblood out of our ministry. I need a discipline of leader development so I don’t try to do ministry on my own. So my discipline is to send a leader email each week and have at least one face to face meeting each week.

Discipline # 5 – Church Connection. Our team leader remarked this morning that some of us come into the office to get stuff done, others come into the office to connect with others. I am definitely a connector. I find that if I spend too much time working from a coffee shop I lose touch with the pulse of the rest of the church. I know that I need to make a habit of being in the office so I can bump into people, share stories and hear what’s going on. When I neglect this discipline I become solo artist instead of a true team player.

What are your weekly disciplines? What habits do you practice to make sure you are heading in the right direction? Are there any that you need to start doing this week?

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Kevin Libick is a Middle School Pastor living in Fort Worth, TX with his wife Kara and her two cats. He is a novice banjo picker and expert Hawaiian food eater. Kevin loves to connect with other youth workers and equip them to live out their calling in God’s Kingdom. Connect with Kevin on Twitter: @kevinlibick[/author_info] [/author]

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One thought on “The Disciplines of Youth Ministry

  1. Hi Kevin,

    Have you ever read “Celebration of Discipline?” It’s a classic, ha. It outlines 12 disciplines of Christianity. I try to implement them and highly value them. I think this list is GREAT and definitely highlights certain disciplines in youth ministry. Good list!