Should I go into youth ministry?

youth ministry?A female high school student is considering youth ministry as a full-time vocation and interviewed me with a couple questions. Here’s my response. She would love to have your input, too, especially from any other full-time women youth workers.

Would you recommend it to me as a ministry or career option?

Absolutely, but only if you feel a passion for your area of ministry. There’s a lot of glamor to ministry from the outside looking in, but from the inside looking out, ministry is tough. It’s often a struggle. Whenever you work with people who are just as sinful and depraved as you, it’s gonna be messy. There will be criticism, people who don’t like or understand what you’re doing, people with conflicting values, false accusations, misunderstandings, feelings of being undervalued, and so much more. It doesn’t matter what kind of ministry you undertake, this will be true wherever you go. If you’re not 100% certain of the Lord’s calling on your life into ministry, it will become easy to give up and move on to a less emotional vocation.

However, that said, the rewards of ministry far outweigh the conflicts and dealing with sin issues. For me personally, what I thrive on in ministry is seeing that “light bulb” go off for a student who finally “gets it.” They might have heard 100 times before that God loves them, but when it finally hits and you can see the realization in their eyes that, “Woah, God really does love ME!” Man, I get tingles inside just thinking about it. Seeing the spiritual connections take place and knowing that my relationship with a student could impact the rest of their life is an incredibly sobering responsibility that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

So, to answer your question, would I recommend ministry, and specifically youth ministry, to you as a career option? Absolutely, as long as you’re passionate about it and feel the Lord calling you to it. Youth ministry is in desperate need of good vocational female youth workers. So many paid youth pastors are male that it’s almost crippling! We need solid women to help in this role.

What challenges do you think I would face because of the fact that I am a gal, not a guy when it comes to relation to different churches?

Well, it depends on what position of ministry you’re going into. In the context of youth ministry, there will be some churches that won’t hire you, but those are fortunately becoming fewer and farther between.

Honestly, I don’t foresee many unique challenges in youth ministry because you’re a girl. Maybe I’m completely disconnected from what’s happening in this area, but if anything, I think being a girl probably works to your advantage because female youth workers are fewer and thereby in higher demand. Some churches who are hiring specifically an ordained youth “pastor” might not consider you, but I’m not ordained either, so it’s possible to get hired. I think you’ll find several churches looking specifically for female workers and not enough girls out there willing to take the call.

What courses did you find most useful during college?

Oh man, my college has the best youth ministry program I’ve come across yet. Every one of them was totally down-to-earth, practical and impacted my ministry in various ways. I’m not sure I can name just one of them. Here are the ones that come to mind, though:

1. Philosophy of Youth Ministry
2. Teaching Process
3. Youth Culture

Other non-youth ministry courses that were helpful to me in college are:

1. Ministry Management
2. Theology of the Christian Life
3. Doctrine I, II, and III

What has been the most important preparation that you have had under your belt for your ministry?

Honestly, it’s all the scripture memorization that my dad made me do when I was a little kid. He made us memorize about 12-20 verses every week that we had to recite before we could eat lunch. Although I don’t quite agree with that tactic myself, it got the point across. We even memorized books of the Bible and many Psalms. I think memorizing scripture has helped me in ministry more than both Bible college and seminary put together.

What have you enjoyed most with youth ministry and what have been your biggest troubles with it?

Well, I kinda answered that one earlier, sorry. What I enjoy most is seeing life-change take place in students’ lives, watching the “light bulb” turn on when a spiritual truth finally hits home and they “Oh, I get it now!” moments take place. My biggest trouble are working with people who are just as sinful as I am. The depravity of man is an awful thing that complicates even the best thing in the worst ways. Conflict, disagreements, criticism, and judgments are unfortunately all a part of ministry.

Posted on April 30, 2007

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