Ministry Planning in Uncertain Times

Our world is ever changing. A little over a month ago, and few of us had ever heard of the Coronavirus. Now, most of us have moved our offices and ministries into our homes and are hosting youth group gatherings through Zoom and YouTube.

With a changing world comes a change in the method and manner in which we do ministry. But the question is, “how do we do effective ministry and planning in times such as these?” Well, today I hope to give you some advice and tips for how to do this well going forward. This is not a catchall, but rather some tips that I hope help you to think creatively through where your ministry is at and where it is going.

Plan ahead

This is hard to do when life is uncertain and events, outings, and gatherings are being cancelled farther out than we would have hoped. That means that for some of us, summer trips have already been cancelled or we are preparing for that to happen. Let me encourage you to at least begin to brainstorm about what this summer will look like if trips fall through.

Begin to come up with contingencies: think through what it would like for you to host a mission trip in your community, consider if there is a local camp you could host a retreat at, think about hosting a multi-church retreat in your town.

But planning ahead is more than just about trips, it is also about normal programming. Many of us have already changed how we do programming, but have you thought about the long term? Do you have a plan for if your group cannot gather through the summer? Planning ahead can add more to your plate and yes, in many ways it is hypothetical, but it is also prudent and necessary. Think through what programming could look like if our present state continues. Thinking through engagement, leader training, and ministering to families in light of our current circumstances is beneficial now and will help you build a stronger ministry going forward.

Set yourself and your ministry up well

Many ministries are trying to do all the things right now. They have started using all types of social media, they have started live streaming, they are hosting Zoom calls every day, they are constantly trying to be relevant, and honestly it is leading to exhaustion and burnout.

The reality is that right now you should scale your ministry carefully. You need to put together a plan that is sustainable and usable after you get back into “normal” programming. To scale up to a large level that isn’t something you can continue for the long haul is not productive. You can always scale up, but if you start big and have to reduce, people will lose trust in what you are doing. Start at a good rate and build off of that.

Remember your people

During this period and other times of uncertainty, just because our rhythms have changed or because our schedule allows for us to do more doesn’t mean everyone else can. Your volunteers are feeling overwhelmed and scared, some are working extra hours, others have lost jobs. Because of this, we cannot expect our people to do all the things. We cannot mandate that they do more than they were before or even the same amount as their lives and rhythms are drastically changing.

But this also means we should be intentional about connecting and communicating with our people. This will look different than it did when we all could gather together, but it could be as simple as calling someone instead of texting. Sending someone a personal card in the mail. Clearly explaining the plan and how you will get there. Remember to care well for them as they care well for your students.

Set boundaries

Feeling more tired than normal? Working extra hours? Don’t have a safe place to call home because home is now your work space? That is the case for many of us. With our ministries going remote, we have seen an uptick in how much we have to do. For many of us, we are still trying to manage a normal schedule on top of learning new things, teaching in new ways, and equipping our volunteers and families.

All that means we are feeling tired and overwhelmed, and we need to make sure that we are not being set up to fail. In order to do that you must set appropriate boundaries. Some of these boundaries could include continuing to have normal working hours, hosting meetings and gatherings when you normally would have, taking time off when you normally would have, making sure to still invest in your family, and continuing to care for your own soul and health. You need to be holistically healthy to run a ministry and care for others; make sure you are doing that and setting healthy rhythms in our new normal.

Be willing to adapt

Have things changed for you? Are you doing ministry in a way you never thought you would? Are you challenging students to be more digitally connected when before you were calling for them to disconnect from media? Life comes at you fast, doesn’t it?

We must be willing to adapt, change, and overcome. Life has changed for us, which means our rhythm of doing ministry has changed as well. We are not changing our mission but simply the way we go about fulfilling it. We must be willing to adapt in order to further the mission. You may need to move to an online structure, you may not be able to meet together, you may need to care for your people in new ways. That doesn’t mean we throw in the towel, but instead find new ways to continue in the mission God has called us to.

Don’t take things personally

Have you had a conversation with an exhausted volunteer who is stepping back because you want too much? Has a parent emailed you demanding to know your plan for the future? Have you had a store clerk yell at you or a delivery driver give you a dirty look?

Welcome to where our world is at. People are fearful, tired, anxious, and isolated. That means that people will respond poorly and at times lash out, especially at those they are looking to for answers. It isn’t right or deserved, but we must remember the fragile state of so many in our world. Don’t take these moments as a personal assault, but be willing to still love and care for people in the midst of everything that is happening.

Care for your people

As was stated above, people are scared, alone, and unsure. It is in times like these that we must make every effort to care well for our people. Send texts, make calls, offer services like dropping off a meal or dessert, be willing to pick up items for others when you go shopping, write a letter, or simply let people know you are praying for them.

We are great at caring for people when we are physically with them, now we need to do it when we are apart. This is where our people will see that we love and care for them, and it provides us a real opportunity to show Jesus and His love during a difficult time.

Encouraging Students to Stay in the Scriptures

Before Coronavirus closed our programming, I was slated to speak to our high school students on studying Scripture. I was so excited to share; this is a topic I am passionate about. But at the same time, I struggled with the “how.” How do we impart passion for the Word to our students?

I think I’m still fighting to figure that one out. I also think it varies from student to student. Some will be more inclined to read, period. Some will be more interested in their Bible than others. Some may not care about the Scriptures until they’re older. Even though there might not be an easy answer, or a “one size fits all” solution, I don’t think that should keep us from trying.

The truth is that the Bible changes lives. The more time we spend in it, the more we come to know the God who wrote it. The more we know Him, the more we fall in love with Him. I had an illustration I had planned to share about how my husband Nick–who is also the youth pastor–and I met and became friends. Over time, the more I got to know him, the more I liked him, until one day I realized that I loved him. It wasn’t instantaneous–when we met, we were just two strangers. But over the years I came to know his character, his heart, and his passion for Jesus.

Falling in love with another person is amazing, but falling in love with God, that’s on another level. I long for students to fall in love with God, and for them to start that journey now. So how can we help them along that path? How can we encourage students to study and remain rooted in the Scriptures?

1. Lead by example.

This is so simple, and yet for many of us, so challenging. Whether we look at the Bible as a textbook, or a guide we study before giving weekly lessons, or something we barely have time for in the midst of our busy schedule–many of us struggle to make time in the Word a priority. But I believe the best way to encourage students to remain in the Word is to do it ourselves. If you are passionate about the Bible, that will be evident to your students.

I think there is a fine line between making this about a daily checklist and pursuing a consistent relationship with Christ. If we’re just doing it to do it, I think we’re missing the point. At the same time, there will undoubtedly be days we struggle to want to read the Bible. Our daily pursuit of God should not be contingent on our feelings, but it also shouldn’t be a religious duty we check off our list once it’s completed. Our efforts should be focused on daily seeking to meet with God and hear from Him, whether we have time to read a whole book of the Bible or only a few verses. I believe God will use the time we give Him to teach us and deepen our relationship with Him. Like any strong relationship, we have to be committed to putting in time and effort.

2. Share your story.

It’s one thing to tell students that they should read their Bible, anyone can do that. It’s another thing to share why you read your Bible. I think students need to hear the life change we have encountered through time in God’s Word. This is another way we can lead by example, and your story can take it from a religious duty to a personal recounting. How has the Bible, how has time with God, changed your life?

Students want our honesty, they deserve it. They can tell when we’re faking it, or just sharing a hypothetical story that we made up. I’ve seen how an honest, personal story can instantly harness the attention of every student in a room. They will latch onto it because they want to know how we’ve survived, how God is real in our lives, and if there’s hope for them. Sharing our real, honest stories is one of the best things we can do for our students.

3. Provide a way.

Some students may not have their own Bible. Some might have a translation they struggle to understand. Some need help filling in the blanks and answering the questions they have as they read. In as much as you are able, help them get the resources they need. Some students need a Bible; some need a new, more easy-to-read translation; some need a basic student-level commentary.

One of the things I encourage all students to get is a study Bible. Heck, I encourage adults to get study Bibles. More recently I’ve realized how much we as adults don’t know about the Bible, things we could easily uncover by reading the notes in a study Bible. Yet more often than not, we don’t look into resources, we just keep reading and ignore our confusion. Let’s not set that example for our students. Instead, let’s show them how they can begin to understand more and uncover answers to their questions during their personal Bible-reading time.

Whatever your students need to help them get into God’s Word and understand it, provide that to them. But while you’re doing that, I encourage you to challenge them. If they’re getting a brand new Bible or commentary, challenge them to use it and not to allow it to collect dust on a shelf. You are investing in them, challenge them to invest in their relationship with God.

[Not sure which Bibles to provide to your students? Check out this post for our top picks.]

4. Educate.

Pre-made Bible studies are great. They can help lead students through the text, drawing out important points and helping apply them to their lives. But what about the times students don’t have a Bible study on hand? What about when they go off to college and it’s just them and a Bible in their dorm room? Now is a perfect, and extremely important, time to teach students how to study the Bible on their own.

I encourage youth leaders to teach simple Bible study methods to their students regularly. This could be a yearly lesson–a refresher for those who have heard it, and an education for those who haven’t. This is an easy way to equip students to not just read the Bible, but apply it to their lives. A few basic methods include:

  • O.I.A., or Observation, Interpretation, and Application; ask what the passage says, what it means, and what it means for me.
  • Discovery Method; ask what I learn about God, what I learn about people, what the passage teaches me, what I need to obey.
  • S.O.A.P, or Study, Observe, Apply, Pray; read the passage, ask questions and write it in your own words, ask how to specifically live it out, write a prayer of response.

Students may gravitate toward different methods. Some may enjoy color-coding with pencils or highlighters. Some may want to keep a journal, while others may want to discuss with a leader or friend. Help students discover a method or methods that work well for them. Whatever they decide, encourage your students to always start their Bible time with prayer. Nothing will help them understand the Bible more than the Holy Spirit. I encourage students to start by asking God to help them know and understand His word before they dig in.

I would also encourage students to write down any question they have that they cannot find the answer to, but challenge them to look on their own first. If they can’t find an answer, encourage them to bring their questions to their parents, to you, to a leader, or another pastor in the church. This will not only help them wrestle with their faith and what they believe, but also build community and relationships with their parents and adults in the church.

5. Direct and encourage.

Besides struggling to understand the Bible, students may also struggle with knowing what to read. They may start at the beginning and get lost in a genealogy or particularly difficult text and then give up. We can help by guiding students into what to read. If you know a student well, you can give them a suggestion or two based off of their current context. Another option is to provide a list of suggestions and let students choose based off of where they’re at in life, or what they’re interested in. I’ve listed some suggestions below.

  • New to reading the Bible, or don’t know much about Jesus: John
  • Curious about the beginning of everything, or enjoy studying history: Genesis
  • Interested in the early church, or how the church began: Acts
  • Life is difficult, or feel like you’re struggling: Psalms
  • Want to grow in wisdom: Proverbs
  • Struggling to see that God is working or has a plan: Esther
  • Want more information on the Gospel or Christian life: Romans
  • Current events worry you, or need assurance that God is in control: Daniel
  • Struggle with feeling like you need to “earn” salvation: Galatians
  • Want to be a leader in the church: 1 and 2 Timothy

Remind students that they can find the book they’re looking for by using their Bible’s table of contents, and that they can uncover more information with notes from a study Bible or commentary.

6. Invite and equip parents to join in.

Not all parents are believers, but for those who are, they are the primary disciple-maker in their child’s life. They may not see it that way, instead believing you or your small group leaders fill that role. But they are the ones who spend the most time with their child. Their lifestyle, habits, and relationship with Christ are the examples their child sees the most, and will most likely emulate.

I encourage you to keep parents in the loop–if you are teaching on Bible study methods, providing Bibles and resources, and challenging students to study the Word, inform their parents. Parents can follow up throughout the week, do a study with their child(ren), ask and answer important questions, and model consistent Bible study. You can also provide resources to parents to help them feel equipped to guide their child(ren). Parents might not know where to turn for answers to tough questions, so make sure to share helpful resources, including yourself.

7. Cover your students in prayer.

As I mentioned before, nothing will help students more in their Scriptural study than the Holy Spirit. We can give them all the tools, tips, and answers, but without the illumination of the Spirit, they won’t get very far. Pray that they will hear from God, that He will capture their hearts and their attention, and that they will be drawn into deeper relationships with Him.

And pray for yourself, that God would help you educate and encourage your students. Ask Him to show you how to best guide your specific students in their study of His Word, and in their relationships with Him. He knows their hearts, their needs, their struggles, and He can provide–for them and for you. God has you in this place, as their leader, for a specific purpose, and He will empower you to lead well.

Have a tip for encouraging students to study the Bible? Share it by leaving a reply below!

Coronavirus: Tips and Resources for Ministry Leaders

Over the past couple of weeks Coronavirus became very real for many of us, and in the coming weeks will be a reality for all of our churches and communities. This virus has left churches and youth ministries scrambling to figure out what to do and how to respond.

I have seen responses ranging from fear to faith, condemning to affirming responses, arguments to flat out fights, and this was just in pastor and youth ministry groups on Facebook. Isn’t it interesting how in the midst of a global and local pandemic, we can so easily revert inward and become exactly who we don’t need to be?

This week I want to offer some ways to engage with what is happening, tips on how to care for your people, and resources to help you navigate the current situation. My prayer is that we respond with love, compassion, and understanding during a tumultuous and trying time.

Pray and trust God.

This is a no-brainer, right? Wrong. It is easy to let fear and panic overwhelm in our hearts and minds, even as we present ourselves as calm, cool, and collected. Remember that even in the midst of the unknown, God is ever sovereign and still in control. He is neither surprised nor caught off guard, but instead is empowering His bride to continue on and be the vessel that loves His world.

Be understanding.

There is a lot going on with the Coronavirus. People are scared and worried. People are consumed by fear and are overwhelmed. Still others are reacting with skepticism and cynicism. In all things we as shepherds and caretakers of our flocks must seek to love and care for them. Hear their thoughts and fears. Listen to their input and be willing to understand how others are feeling and why they are feeling that way.

Affirm your church’s decision and don’t break down others.

We all have reasons for the decision(s) we and our leadership have made and will make. Please stand by the decision and uplift it, especially if it is made by those in leadership over you. The weight of making these decisions is extremely heavy and not something done on a whim. I know many pastors who have agonized over the decision to move to online church services or cancel all together. The potential financial hit is enough to overwhelm any senior pastor.

But even more than affirming the decision your church and ministry is following, don’t accuse or condemn other churches who are not doing the same. Regardless of others’ decisions, let us still be the body of Christ. Let us love each other and look to assist and share resources and information. Rather than question people’s faith and their commitment to their people, we need to understand that everyone is looking to respond to something we have never responded to before.

Don’t forget the easily forgotten.

There are many people who, due to the nature of the virus and the advice of our government, are staying away from large groups. Our elderly congregants are very restricted and isolated. People who deal with anxiety and chronic fear are scared of what is happening. You may have church-goers who are quarantined. And there are people who love to be around others, but because of social distancing, cannot. Check in with these people. Call them, FaceTime them, ask if they need anything. Organize, love, and care for those who could easily disappear.

Remember your college students.

Many colleges and universities are suspending on-campus activities and sending students home. This means that our college ministries are now in a great position to minister to our students. Their lives have been disrupted; some seniors are unsure of whether they will graduate now. This is a prime opportunity to care for these students and let them know they are loved and valued. Send them a text, host a Zoom gathering, or if you’re still able to, meet them for coffee. A little intentionality will go a long way with your students.

Care for your community.

In as much as the next days, weeks, and months may feel uncertain for us as church employees and volunteers, this new normal provides amazing opportunities for us to care for our communities. My senior pastor has put it this way, “This our opportunity to be good neighbors.”

Let me encourage you to think about how you could care for first responders, hospital workers, nursing homes, students who won’t have meals now that schools are closed, grocery store employees, and whomever else God brings to mind. You may not be able to go to into all these areas due to restrictions, but you can open communication lines and see how you can come alongside and love them. Let us love our neighbors as ourselves, especially in times such as these.


Download Youth Ministry – The DYM team has put out some free resources to help youth ministries love, care, and minister to their people during this time. There are lessons, tips on streaming videos, social media resources, videos, games, small group resources, and much more. There is also a really helpful article that they put out entitled “5 questions parents can ask their kids about Coronavirus” to help students and children process through their emotions, thoughts, and feelings.

Restream – This is a great resource if you are looking for a product to stream your services or programming on a different platform than Facebook Live or Instagram Live. There is a free option as well as two paid options depending on your needs.

LiveReacting – This is a resource that allows for you to create interactive Facebook Live videos. You can load pre-recorded videos, play games, create polls, and more all through this one platform. There is a free trial version if you just want to try it out, as well as monthly subscription plans. – This organization is offering a free live streaming service for churches that plans to go live on March 20th. Check out to submit your email to be on the list of people who can sign up when it launches. This is a great option for smaller churches or youth programs looking to stream services and content.

Ministry to Parents – This is typically a subscription-based service that any youth program should sign up for, but with everything going on they have put out a really helpful article on talking to families about fears and the Coronavirus. This not only offers helpful steps, but it also has additional links for more information and resources.

Parent Cue – Another great resources to always be engaged with, Parent Cue has put together a really helpful article on “Managing fear and anxiety during a health pandemic.” It provides great talking points, helpful links and suggestions, and suggestions for managing life going forward.

Red Cross – The Red Cross has put out an article to help cope with this present reality. This article is extremely helpful for thinking about those who are dealing with fear, isolation, stress, and all the emotions coming through this time.

Church Leaders – Church Leaders shared a very comprehensive guide for dealing with the Coronavirus as a church. This is also available for download so you can have it handy to give to your staff teams. This can be easily adapted to your church and context, and it is super beneficial to have a ready-made guide to help build out your plan.

Slowing Down: An Approach to Personal Bible Study

Reading the Bible has been indispensable in my spiritual growth. This has been true from the day of my spiritual birth (January 24, 1976) up to the present. God has used this time in His Word to grow and shape me and, especially, draw me into a closer relationship with Him.

One of the biggest changes in my practice of Bible reading took place around 1983. At that time, a conversation with a brother in Christ helped move me beyond reading the Bible as a study exercise to reading the Bible as an act of worship. In other words, it became more personal, more relational.

For many years The One Year Bible has been my “go to” for my personal Bible time. What is that? Here is what the cover of my very weathered copy of The One Year Bible says: “The entire New International Version arranged in 365 daily readings.” (The One Year Bible has been published in other translation versions as well, at least two of which I have tried, but I have found I like the NIV best for my personal Bible time.) Each day’s reading is dated for the day of the year and contains readings from the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Psalms, and the Proverbs. In fact, the entirety of the book of the Psalms is in there twice: from January 1 – July 2 and again from July 3 – December 31.

The copyright date of the edition I read is September 1988. Why is that significant? I believe I have had this copy almost from that date, perhaps from sometime in 1989. A dear mentor of mine, Jim Paul, gave me the copy I have. My wife Sue Ann and I began serving a church in Dallas in February of 1988. Jim Paul led the Spanish-speaking congregation which was part of that church’s ministry. Jim frequently came to my office, most often solely to pray with me. What a gift that was! On one of those occasions he had this red The One Year Bible in hand and gave it to me. To use a well-used phrase, it was a gift that has kept on giving!

My latest development in Bible reading has been to slow down the pace of my reading. For many years my goal was to finish reading through my one year Bible within the calendar year. And, for a number of years I met that goal, but not in the last couple of years. I found that frustrating. What often got me off my pace was vacation, or any other stretch of time where I was out of my regular routine (e.g. attending conferences, etc.). I tried to catch up; sometimes I succeeded and sometimes I didn’t. The result, along with the frustration, was a sense of self-imposed pressure. Needless to say, this distracted me from enjoying and benefiting from my reading.

My new approach? Read as much as I want, or, as much as I have time for. Then I mark the spot and pick up my reading there the next time. I got the idea from my wise and dear wife, Sue Ann.

Now, instead of being focused on getting to the end of the day’s reading, I focus more on the content of what I am reading. I can linger over a verse or a paragraph or even a phrase. I can jot a note in the margin. And I underline. I use highlighter pens and colored pencils to underline specific themes (e.g. red for salvation, green for God speaking, orange for the Holy Spirit, etc.)—a color-coded way of bringing those themes out visually.

In the past, when I completed reading The One Year Bible, I would pick a new theme to look for while reading in the new year, and use a new color to underline it. I am still doing that. I have found it to be very beneficial in helping me focus while I read. And now that I am reading more slowly, I can see where I have missed those themes in some passages in past readings and I can underline them in their respective colors.

I am encouraged with my new approach. I feel less pressured in my reading and sometimes thoughts from my morning reading linger throughout the day. I think this has been a good step for me—slowing down.

Tom Loyola is a senior pastor at an Evangelical Free Church in Iowa. He and his wife Sue Ann have partnered together in pastoral ministry since 1984 and are the parents of two children. Tom received his Master of Theology and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary and enjoys reading, running, oil painting, and a good movie.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Volunteering in Student Ministry

In several months the school year will be over, summer ministry activities will be starting, and youth leaders will be gearing up for a new school year–which always includes the search for new volunteers. If you’ve considered jumping in as a student ministry volunteer, now is the perfect time to evaluate if this is the role for you.

It can be hard to discern where we should serve, whether we’re “called” to a particular role, or how to prioritize our ministry involvement. But these are important things to work through before stepping into student ministry. There will always be things you can learn only through involvement, but there are also essential things to ask before you get there.

Today I’m outlining a few top questions that I would encourage potential volunteers to ask themselves before jumping into student ministry. These can also be helpful questions to use as a personal evaluation for anyone already serving. If you want to use this post for evaluation purposes, I recommend answering the questions and reading only the first paragraph under each heading before you read the remaining paragraphs. This will help you evaluate your honest answers.

Ask: Why do I want to serve in student ministry?

Let’s start simple: why do you think you want to serve? Be brutally honest as you answer this question because often your motives will reveal your heart. List as many reasons for serving as you can think of.

If most of your reasons start with you–like what you want to get out of it, or what you think you can offer to students–it might be good to press pause and take a step back. In as much as you will get something out of volunteering and you might bring a lot to the table, these should be secondary, not primary motivations. Student ministry is about sacrificially serving Jesus and the students, about being there for them, showing up consistently, and having the fortitude to dig in when the going gets tough.

If you step in with self-centered motives, you will end up disappointed, and you will most likely struggle in your role. You may find yourself comparing and competing with other leaders, looking for student affirmation, and feeling rapid burn-out when you don’t get it. On the flip side, if your motives are oriented toward serving the Lord first, you will look to Him to define your success and give you strength in the hard times. And if you put the students and their needs ahead of your own, you will have a better perspective on your purpose in student ministry.

Remember: It’s not wrong to feel like God has gifted you in this area, and that you have special gifts you would like to use to serve students. Just because it may feel like a motive is selfish doesn’t mean God can’t and won’t use it. Actively seek to give your gifts and desires back to Him.

Ask: How do I honestly feel about and view students?

If you were to be completely honest on how you feel about middle school and/or high school students, what would you say? When you see them at church or out in your community, how do you view them and what do you think about them?

How you feel about students deep down will manifest itself as you serve in student ministry. If you find them annoying, obnoxious, entitled, or a lost cause, those views will eventually manifest themselves. You can’t fake it with students.

If students frustrate you, ask God to change your heart and help you see them the way He does. Allow time for God to break your heart for students before you jump in and serve. Keep in mind that if you find one age group challenging (i.e.

Remember: Even if you view students with love and respect, your heart toward them will still be tested. Student ministry can be very challenging, and there will be times you don’t want to love students. In the moments when you feel incapable of love, look to God for strength and direction. Only He can sustain you through difficult seasons.

Ask: What priority level can I give student ministry?

Some additional questions to answer include: How many ministries/extra activities am I involved in and how much time do they take? How much time am I able to commit to student ministry? On a scale of 1-10, how important is student ministry verses the other activities I’m involved in? To help you answer some of these, you might need to first talk to whoever is over the student ministry to get an idea of how much time you will need to commit each week.

The bottom line is that student ministry often requires being a top-tier priority. You will discover that it doesn’t just require a couple of hours each week. To truly invest in the lives of students, you will need to interact and spend consistent, regular time with them. This is not to say that you can’t have a life or other involvement outside of student ministry, but at times other things may need to take a back seat to your role as a youth leader.

If you commit to numerous ministries and activities, eventually one area will suffer. If you’re already serving in several large roles, it may not be a good time to get involved in student ministry. It’s important to know that more isn’t always better. Sometimes keeping your commitments minimal will help you have time, energy, and space for those who desperately need you.

Remember: Over-commitment in life is not sustainable long-term. This also includes over-commitment in student ministry. Make sure to create space in your life for spiritual in-flow outside of student ministry. This can include time with family and friends, a Bible study with peers, and regular time in prayer and the Word.

Ask: What am I hoping to get out of serving in student ministry?

In a way we touched on this in the first question, but let’s dig a little deeper. What are you hoping will be the end result of your time volunteering in student ministry? Do you have a certain vision or goal for your involvement? What are you hoping will come out of your time investing in students?

This is a way to assess your true motives, to ask the tough questions, and seek God for the answers. It’s hard to always have pure motives all of the time, but if your motives are rooted in things like affirmation, recognition, or building a brand, it may be time to do some heart work outside of student ministry.

The truth is that student ministry isn’t about any of us; it is about God, His mission, and being a willing part of what He is doing. If your hope is to see and join in what He is doing in the lives of students, then you are on a good track. Remember that at the end of it all, it won’t be about you or what you did or didn’t do (so in that, don’t worry about perceived failure), it will be about God and what He did.

Remember: If you step into student ministry and see change and growth in your own life, it doesn’t mean that you’ve made it all about you. God will use the crucible of service to refine and shape you, especially in the moments that feel like failure. If He has called you to student ministry, He will use you and He will equip you for the work. Continue seeking Him, in the triumphs and the setbacks.

Ask: What do I have to offer?

Ask this question genuinely, not pridefully. What are things unique to you that you can bring to the table? What are things you can offer to the ministry? What passions can you share with younger generations?

The truth is that God has gifted all of us for service in His kingdom, and I think we can miss what we have been given if we don’t identify it and seek to use it. It may feel awkward to list these things, but they can help you determine if student ministry is the place for you.

If you do decide to step into student ministry, look for specific areas where you can implement your skills and passions. If you love to teach or speak, look into opportunities to share with the group. If you are a musician, look into leading and teaching students. If you enjoy baking, bring sweets and treats to share with the group. If you have a passion for social justice, look for ways to empower and equip students with the same passion.

Remember: Don’t disqualify yourself for trivial reasons. If you think you’re too old, know that inter-generational relationships are crucial to the life and growth of the church. If you think you’re too out of touch, ask genuine questions and let the students teach you. If you think you’re ill-equipped, ask God to empower and embolden you. And if you feel scared, remember that students are people too, and they desperately need the love of Jesus.

If you’re still uncertain…

It may be time to set up an appointment with the pastor or student ministry leader. Be open about your desires and concerns, and let them ask you questions. They can help you discern if student ministries is the place for you. You may also be able to sit in on one or two nights of youth group to get a feel for the ministry and what you would be doing. Sometimes it takes jumping in fully and committing to a year to see if student ministry is where you feel called to serve. Remember to be honest and to be open to where God might lead you.