Over a Cup of Coffee: 15 Lessons on the Ages + Stages of Ministry

If we had a chance to connect over some good coffee, I am pretty confident that we would start talking about the 15 things that I am about to discuss below. I have found many leaders asking me about these things... AND reflecting back on my ages + stages in ministry, I want to share the 15 experiences that I’ve learned in ministry for YOU; so that you can go further faster in your ministry + calling. Here they are:

1.     Get rid of debt!

Paying off debt frees you up in the future, sets you up for financial success and can build an equity for you and your family. Here are some practical ways to make more money:

  • Get a part time/occasional job from someone in the church,
  • Ask your leader if you can speak on the side (up to 2-4 weekends away or 2 camps to speak at),
  • Have a budget + stick with it. Use the 50/20/30 principle. 50% towards housing costs, 20% towards saving + giving, and 30% towards travel + food. If this isn't doable, use point 1 + 2 to help supplement. 
  • PRAY - it is amazing how God shows up, every time. RELY on God... HE will show up as you do your part, too!

2.     Honour your leader

Learn to listen, engage, serve, honour and minister to your leader. Youth ministry will ONLY be as successful as your leader wants it to be.

3.     Protect your heart

You need ministry too! Learn to minister to yourself + allow others to minister to you – friends, counsellors, family, spouse – to help you and bring out the best IN you. 

4.     Know your rhythms

Manage your schedule before it manages you. I talk to MORE young leaders on this than anything else. Check out some great resources here

5.     Build relationships BEFORE you share vision

Relationship builds trust. Vision builds unity, oneness and ministry. You NEED relationship before vision because you WON'T have the trust to BUILD the vision. Proverbs 29:18 stuff...

6.     Stick it out in your context

Too often young leaders leave too early and seasoned leaders leave too late. As a young leader, you are called to stay in your context to LEARN as much as you can. Don’t leave too early because you haven’t taken the creativity, prayer and humility to learn through the HARD things. It is a SIGN NOT to leave if you are wanting to resign because things get hard. Stick it out. 

7.     Build leadership teams

Building ministry strategies on your own is lonely, but if you build leadership teams, ministry can be a lot of fun. It is the difference between working foolishly + wisely. Work hard + smart within teams.

8.     Build disciples

EVERYTHING you do should be about building life-long, effective, Spirit-led, confident disciples of Jesus. Having a process to do this helps you evaluate, guide and mentor your students through. You have about 5 years with your students… build them up for life, not just as teens!

9.     Know how to build a ministry budget

This wins points with your leader. Don’t ask for more subsidies, bursaries or staff; build a budget around vision. This will help you grow as a leader.

10.  Stay fresh

It is easy to get caught up in the church-vortex of ministry. Staying fresh in your faith doesn’t happen in the church but in the community. Get involved on a student campus, coach a sports team, go to the gym… get to know people who need to know God.

11.  Build a philosophy of ministry

You are NOT just a pastor! You are a minister WHEREVER you go – that includes your home, family, spouse (if you are married), children (goes without saying) and to yourself. Building a philosophy of ministry keeps you focused, guarded, accountable and effective.

12.  Study the WORD

You are not the best thing that God has created for youth ministry. Young leaders who are hungry for God, hustle in ministry and humble towards the mission are a powerful combination of ministry effectiveness. This ONLY happens to those WHO are in the WORD. Create SPACE for prayer + the WORD.

13.  Get a mentor to call you out

You need someone to call out the garbage – the selfishness, pride, lust, greed, etc. – in your life. We ALL need someone like this. This has to be not just your possy friends but someone who is seasoned and will bring out the best in you. This doesn't happen easy, but it can happen for your through #ANEWME

14.  Be a mentor

Mentor someone – build something AND someone BEYOND yourself.

15.  Keep learning

NEVER stop growing! Growth takes intentionality, work and strategy. Build a growth plan. WHY? Because you will NOT grow if you are not willing to put the work into it. Leaders who learn are leaders who GROW.

Hope this helps. Cheers over a great cup of JOE!

PS - If there is anything else you would add to the convo, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments BELOW.