Dear Youth Worker or Pastor,
I am very excited that God has placed a call on your life to work in student ministry. There are some amazing things about working with teens that I know you will enjoy. Throughout your time in student ministry, many of the students will be in a place where God moves them to make life decisions for Him. From time to time, God will bless you to be part of this direct change in their life. It is great to see students fight sin, devote their lives to Jesus, and grow spiritually.
The all night events kinda suck, mostly because staying up all night is not as fun as it used to be, but playing sports, hanging out at sporting events, playing Halo and Call of Duty are all way fun, and I know the students will love doing them with you. Also, make sure you take the students to concerts. It is a blast, and you can always charge the church for your ticket cost. When you look at all those things, add in lunch out, time at Starbucks, late nights talking; working with teens is great. But I must warn you that you need to be prepared for:
-Students who get pregnant
-Students who get other students pregnant
-Students who are addicted to pornography
-Students who won’t stop masturbating
-Students who have sexual attraction to someone of the same gender and don’t know what to do
-Students who hate their parents
-Students who will attempt to kill themselves
-Students who are addicted to drugs
-Students who smoke cigarettes, weed, or about anything else they can get their hands on.
-Students who are caught drinking
-Students who post images of others naked online
-Students who will be attracted to leaders
-Students who are attracted to you
-Students who will put you in a place to sin
-Students who will make you mad, annoyed, ticked off, hate life, and wish you had another job.
-Students who Facebook, twitter, text message, call, and stop by your house all the time because they think its normal
-Students who put you against their parents
-Students who get kicked out of school
-Students who go to jail (so be ready to go to court)
-Students who end up in the ICU, ER, or on Life Flight
-Students who don’t understand what it means to read their Bible, fight sin, be in community
-Students who go crazy (so be ready to go to the psych ward)
-Students who run away from home
-Students who are attracted to someone twice their age
-Students who get kicked out of their house by their parents.
-Students who steal from you
-Students who bring porn on camping trips, overnight events, missions trips, youth group events (pretty much everywhere they go)
-Students who threaten other students
-Students who don’t make it on the sports team, drama team, into college and as a result their life begins to fall apart.
-Students who cheat on their boyfriend, girlfriend or even husband or wife
-Students who get in relationships with leaders (this one is a real fun one)
-Students who text message the whole time you are teaching
-Students who ‘talk’ to satan, worship satan, and think its all ok
-Students who see dead people, talk to the, and have a deep fear about the spirit world
-Students who have ‘peered into hell’ and seem to think its normal
-Students who cut themselves
-Students who choke themselves until they black out, and think this is fun and normal
-Parents who want you to simply ‘make their student good’
-Parents who catch students having sex or looking at porn
-Parents who hate their kids and tell them constantly
-Parents who beat their kids
-Parents who molest their kids
-Parents who offer/expose/encourage drugs, sex, and alcohol.
-Parents who teach their kids you’re an idiot, all pastors are corrupt, and the church is evil
-Parents who constantly berate you, slander your name, insult your spouse and kids
-Youth leaders who fail you
-Youth leaders who lie
-Youth leaders who don’t listen (I know, shocking)
-Youth leaders who talk behind your back
-Churches give you no budget, but expects you to do what the mega-youth group down the road is doing
-Churches who overwork you
-Churches who threaten to fire you over numbers
-Churches who fire you over numbers
-Churches who cut your salary in the middle of the year for ‘the new sanctuary’
-Churches who cancel your benefits just because
-Pastors who don’t back you up
-Pastors who talk bad about you
-Pastors who don’t respect you because, ‘you’re just the youth pastor”
-Pastors who sabotage
-Pastors who throw you under the bus
-Pastors who think (and tell you) what you’re doing is worthless.
-Pastors who think that what you do doesn’t matter because, ‘their just kids’
-Pastors who try to get you fired
-Pastors who start rumors
If you’re not ready for all of those things, and I am guessing many more, then I am not sure you are ready to work with in the church with students. And see, none of us will truly ever be ready to address these issues. No class on earth can prepare you for when a student kills them-self. This is why the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, must be central to our thinking, we must be ready to bring the theological truth to bare on all of these situations. Simply teaching students, parents or other leaders a nice devotional and playing games after group will not help address any of the issues listed above. Even though you may feel inadequate, remember this wonderful truth – you are! But Jesus is not. Cling to Him, trust Him, run to Him. He will give us the things to say, the response to have, and the message to bring when these, and many other things, come up in your gospel ministry.
I know, it does not sound all that glorious. Trust me, it is not. But remember, we don’t merely serve students, parents, and fellow youth workers. No, we serve Jesus, and He is the one from whom we receive our power.
Josh Cousineau is a graduate from New England Bible College with a bachelors in Theology and Christian Ministry, has planted Redemption Hill Community Church, and has a passion to preach the gospel to those who are in need of Jesus.