advocating for youth

Is Your Youth Ministry A Joke?

I was heading out to my car to drive to a youth ministry meeting when I heard, “Hey Chris, why are you rushing?” I stopped and saw the parishioner and told her that I was heading to a meeting hosted by APYM. She quickly asked, “What’s APYM?” I told her it stood for Association of Professional Youth Ministers, it’s a group focused on investing and developing youth ministers in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. She responded:

I didn’t know there was such a thing as professional youth ministers.

I didn’t have time to respond but it ate away at me for the rest of the day. I was annoyed because it wasn’t the first time I had heard that comment. There are people (some of them are youth ministers) who don’t take youth ministry seriously. It’s seen as adolescent babysitting and activity planning when it’s really to be something more. So, the question becomes, “How do we get youth ministry to be taken more seriously?”

It starts with:


Youth ministry mostly occurs at times when most of the staff and congregation are at home. To expose the rest of your parish to what you are doing can be challenging. To magnify your ministry you need to go beyond sharing pics on Instagram and Facebook and:

  • Empower your team to be advocates by sharing wins. Encourage your team to share all the great things happening in the ministry with their coworkers, family members, and fellow parishioners.
  • Get to know your parish leadership. Who do you know on your parish council? How well do they know you? Their view of what you do will be limited if they are simply relying on your pastor’s report (Even if he’s a huge fan).
  • Invite parents to participate. Invite the parents of your teens to come to the programs to observe. At the end sit with them, talk about their teens and what plans you have for the ministry.

One of your main responsibilities is to advocate what’s going on so that people are more enthusiastic about supporting your ministry financially and with their time. The more you magnify it the more love it will receive.


If you are going to invite people to observe and invest in your ministry then you are going to have to give them a look at the big picture. That comes from knowing:

  • Where you want the ministry to grow in 5-10 years?
  • What is the ideal outcome for a teen who travels through your ministry?
  • What unique issue or situation do you feel God is calling your ministry to tackle?

Having a big picture not only gets people on board, but it’ll also show that you are invested in what you are doing. The best part about having a bigger picture is that it’s one of the best tools for creating a strategy that builds margin and keeps you sane.


While some people take youth ministry seriously they might not take you seriously. It could be due to the fact that the last person wasn’t competent for the job or maybe they are judging your age, your gender or lack of education. While we can’t control all of those things we can look at how we:

  • Manage conflict
  • Delegate and lead others
  • Honor authority and leadership
  • Listen first and speak last
  • Handle gossip and slander

Again, you can’t control how everyone perceives you, but managing relationships properly will build trust and respect from those that matter most.

I know some of you might be thinking, “Chris, youth ministry is supposed to be casual, and fun. Teenagers don’t want a ‘well run’ machine.” But, it can be both professional and authentic. If you want your ministry to be relational if you want teens to feel loved and connected. If you want the church to be engaging and fun you need to be able to handle the preparation, managing and vision casting that comes with it.

If you are looking for someone to walk with you and help you develop a more professional style of ministry then check out Marathon Youth Ministry Coaching. We’ll set you up with a seasoned youth ministry expert to walk with you as you build something great for the next generation. To learn more and discover the benefits of professional youth ministry coaching click the button below to set up a free consultation today.

What are you currently doing to invest in yourself?



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