10 Things to Learn after Graduating

Chapel went well last Friday.  There was no PowerPoint, so I did it sans photos (very ’90s!)  This was not quite what I talked about, but I wanted to write out 10 things I have learned after Graduation.

  1.  Prepare for failure.  Class time was great for the theory of ministry and how to theoretically deal with people.  But in the real world, nothing is perfect.  A new graduate must realize that you are not going to fix the world with your “new ideas.”
  2. Prepare for success.  At the same time, new graduates must learn to focus their energy and excitement into their new ministry. Recent grads often provide a stagnant ministry with renewed energy and ideas. Be sure to offer ideas you learned in college to your new ministry setting.
  3. Look for other opportunities to learn.  By this I mean look to broaden your horizons by experiencing other parts of the ministry.  Coming out of school, I had a ton of youth ministry experience, but zero business or administration experience.  Over the last year, I have learned a great deal of what it takes to make a ministry run, business wise.  I have learned how to market events, negotiate contracts, and do all the other minute things that make a ministry work.  
  4. Read.  Even though you are not required to anymore, you must read.  Read youth ministry books, read general ministry books, read theology books, read childrens’ books. Just read. Continue to educate yourself. 
  5. Take time for yourself.  Relax. Enjoy life.  No one needs to rush into the Real World, especially a recent college grad.  Make sure you relax on your off days.  Have others respect your off days as well (no one likes calls from work when at home).  Be sure to get enough rest, also.  A youth worker who practices a personal Sabbath is one better prepared for a long ministry.
  6. Take time for the Lord.  Be sure to feed yourself spiritually.  Make sure you are studying the Word so that you can better teach the Word to your students.  A youth worker out of touch with the Lord can quickly drift into hypocrisy and worse.  This not only affects the youth worker, but the entire ministry. 
  7. Stay Connected with School Contacts.  Remember all those people that were in your Youth Min classes? Well, most of them are in some form of youth ministry right now! By maintaining those friendships and contacts, you now have a network of youth workers spread out over the country.  These people are great sources of new programming ideas.  They are also great sources of encouragement and support.  And who knows, maybe your youth group can meet up with your former roommate’s group for a joint retreat or activity? Any time you get students to meet other Christians from another group, friendships and lasting memories are bound to happen.
  8. Stay Connected with Other Youth Workers. It is important to network and meet with youth workers in your area.  These workers have the experience and knowledge about what works and doesn’t work in your specific region.  Join (or start) a monthly meeting of youth workers, and make it a time of sharing, praying, and encouraging one another.  Be sure to invite all youth workers, don’t limit it to one denomination or circle.  Some of the best encouragement and advice I have received have been from youth workers from churches that I do not agree with 100%  Make it an open group of youth workers passionate about reaching students.  Some youth workers may see other groups as competition.  However, any youth worker can look at today’s schools and view a sea of unreached students.  As Jesus said “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few”(Matthew 9:37, ESV).  Encourage the other laborers so you may all focus on the harvest.
  9. Find a mentor.  After graduation, you may feel accomplished and experienced.  However, you are still a novice in the Youth Ministry field.  You need gain experience in the field before you are truly a Youth Min vet.  To help ease you transition into the field, find an experienced vet that will mentor you. They can pass on their valuable experiences and suggestions that will help you and your ministry.  They have “been there and done that,” now they want to pass the baton to you.
  10. Pass on Your Knowledge.  Fresh out of college, some might be given the reins to a youth ministry.  The leaders of the church have entrusted their youth to your care.  It is now your job to minister to these students.  However, you need to minister to the volunteers as well.  Most, if not all, of them have no formal youth ministry training, and they all have full-time jobs and families.  They have a passion to serve your students, and you need to equip them.  Pass on the tools and training that you learned in school to these leaders.  Provide a monthly training session, equipping them to minister to the students more effectively.

So there is my list.  I am not done learning, so maybe I will be like Doug Fields and write another list after 2 years in ministry.

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