If you’re a youth pastor, you might have the same reputation I used to have. Awesome with teens but lacking in organizational skills. Great at communicating the gospel in an exciting way but weak in communication with other church staff. Known for the ability to get 100 kids across the border and back for a missions trip but unable to return an email. Sound familiar? Our reputations have earned us the best seat under the bus because that’s where people like to throw us. My favorite was when I got thrown under the bus for balloons that had floated to the gym ceiling. I had nothing to with those balloons, but because of my youth pastor reputation, under the bus I went without a chance in the world to defend myself. Balloons!
I’m not too proud to admit that I did a lot in the past to contribute to my own “youth pastor” reputation. But taking the blame for everything under the sun, being stereotyped as less than professional, and not being respected by co-workers was not the most encouraging way to approach ministry day in and day out. That’s why I went on a mission to ruin my youth pastor reputation. I didn’t earn my rep overnight, and I didn’t change it overnight, but I did commit to making ongoing positive changes. To really ruin my reputation I had to step out of victim mode and into servant mode. I needed to be more aware of how my role and ministry impacted my teammates. I also needed to gain new found trust from my ministry partners and supervisors.
Below are 5 reputation killers I discovered on my mission to ruin mine.
5 Big Reputation Killers
Don’t be a superhero: There’s only so much one person can do and should do. We take on a lot as youth pastors. Maybe we think it’s easier to just get stuff done than it is to invest the time in building a team. The more time we spend taking on every detail alone, the less time we spend with students. Youth don’t need a superhero, they need superheroes! The more superheroes you have around you, the more impact your ministry will have. Surround yourself with superheroes and cheer them on.
Team Player: For years I suffered with ICS, Insufficient Communication Syndrome. I was so busy, and so wrapped up in what I was doing, I failed to communicate ministry details to the team around me. In the life of a church, the smallest details matter. What time my group will be out of a room so the next event can start matters. Whether or not I need a sound tech for my event matters. Letting people know when teens are dropping off donations and where those donation will be stored matters. Will the world end if these things aren’t communicated? NO, but here’s the thing, over communicating allows our teammates to work with us instead of around us.
Accountable Schedule: A youth pastor who is out in the field and not in the office is a good youth pastor. But sometimes being out in the field can be mistaken for missing in action. Making our schedules available and consistent allows co-workers to know when they can find us, instead of looking for us when we’re not there. Not knowing our schedule can be frustrating to teammate because we seem unavailable. If you don’t already have a set office schedule, think about creating one. It’s a great ministry plan to have a well-executed office schedule. Having a tight office schedule isn’t meant to trap us in the office; it’s meant to make our time in the office more productive.
Reach back out: Emails, calls, and texts come with the territory. Respond to all of them. In this age of social networking, people want to be connected. When parents or other youth supporters email us, they want us to reach back out to them. Failure to correspond makes people feel like we’re disconnected and unorganized. If we want people to reach out to us and support us, we must be diligent enough to reach back out to them.
Visibility and a Powerful Presence: Youth Pastors and their ministries are not meant to exist in the shadows of “big” church. It’s our job to make youth ministry visible. We must connect our youth to the life of the church and community they are such a critical part of. When new members visit our churches for the first time, we should be one of the first people they meet. Finding the youth pastor of a church can be like playing “Where’s Waldo.” Who wants to ruin that with me? We can do it. Delegate, and recruit volunteers so you can be hands on with families, students, and visitors before, after, and during services.
What are you doing to ruin your youth pastor rep?