Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry | Notes & Review

Posted on July 16, 2006


Doug Fields. Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry: A personal and practical guide to starting right. Youth Specialties, 2002. (290 pages)


before you dig in

1. where do i start? committing to the essentials

Youth Ministry as a Marathon. (20)

Doug’s Top 10 Youth Ministry Commitments

  1. I will move slowly.
  2. I will regularly check my motives and evaluate my heart.
  3. I will steer clear of the numbers game.
  4. I will not criticize the past.
  5. I will avoid the comparison trap.
  6. I will focus on priorities.
  7. I will pace myself.
  8. I will serve.
  9. I will be a learner.
  10. I will pursue contentment.

2. why do i feel this way? dealing with discouragement

What’s the Truth about Discouragement?

  • Discouragement is painful.
  • Discouragement is untimely.
  • Discouragement is selfish.
  • Discouragement is lonely.

Practical Steps to Battle Discouragement

  • Be confident that you’re not alone.
  • Find an experienced, but neutral, mentor.
  • Find an upbeat friend outside youth ministry.
  • Realize that not everyone will understand you and your ministry.
  • Take a day off
  • Schedule solo time away.
  • Clear the piles.
  • Get some sleep.
  • Begin a discouragement journal.
  • Begin an affirmation file.
  • Make a personal commitment to last.

3. how do i stay spiritually fresh? establishing a heart foundation

Spirituality…Doing versus Being. God is much more concerned about your being than your doing. (66)

Warning signs: Loss of passion, Physical fatigue, Prayer vacuum, Life is too easy, Life is too hard, Spiritually skimming, Relational conflict, Loss of awe…

Staying Connected.

  • Pursue consistency.
  • Go public. Be courageous enough to invite a friend to lovingly ask you about your consistency, your desire, and the quality of your times with God. (74)
  • Return to the basics. Don’t’ be prideful and label those feelings as immature, thinking you’re too advanced for baby steps. Nothing could be further from the truth! (75)
  • Pursue variety.

4. what’s most important to students? being with them

Big Picture: Put People before Programs.

Big Picture: You Can’t Minister to Everyone.

Big Picture: Everyone Doesn’t Want You to Minister to Them.

Big Picture: You Are a Model.

Developing a Relational Style of Youth Ministry. Understand the power of presence. Ask strategic questions. Learn to listen. Be real. Know when to nudge. Be available. Establish boundaries. Use technology to your advantage. Learn to refer. Understand the power of little things.

5. how do i work with parents? becoming family friendly

My Journey…From Viewing parents as the Enemy to Parents as Partners.

Big Picture: Foundational Truths about Youth Ministry and Parents. You’re an influence, not the influence. Family-friendly youth ministry is important, but it’s not easy. Don’t teach parents how to parent unless you’ve parented teenagers.

Develop Family-Friendly Habits. Understand basic family needs. Always consider your impact on the family. Consider the impact on families when you schedule programs. Lighten up on the programs. Master communication as a simple, but powerful, tool. Don’t underestimate little expressions of thoughtfulness. Take the trauma out of transitions. Encourage parents on their journeys.

When people read a poorly written document, they can’t help but wonder whether the youth ministry is poor too. (110)

The process is nearly the same for parents as for students. Get to know them, care for them, listen to them, help them, encourage them…then watch your youth ministry deepen. (115)

Caring for Angry Parents. Don’t avoid angry parents. Listen until they finish. Think rationally, not personally. End on a positive note.

When You’re Angry with Parents. Be slow to respond. Don’t undermine parents. Go to the source. Walk in their shoes.

6. why all the conflict? dealing with difficult people

During Conflict…Be a Leader.

Often the person who’s the loudest is either the most insecure or the most passionate. (136)

You typically find an agenda behind criticism. (136)

When you get people to row the boat, they don’t have time to rock it.


7. who’s the leader? understanding submission and supervision

  • Do I confront or run from divisiveness?
  • Am I supportive of new ideas?
  • Do I support my lead youth worker in spite of his/her weaknesses?
  • Do I show love when my youth worker messes up?
  • Do I affirm the lead youth worker publicly?
  • Am I the last to leave an event (or do I at least make sure someone else is there)?
  • Am I a positive person?
  • Do I actively look for other volunteers to join the team?
  • Do I solve problems of my own?
  • Do I have a heart for long-term youth ministry?

8. where do i get help? working with a team of leaders

I am more than I am, but less than we are.

Why a Team? With a team, you don’t bottleneck growth. With a team, you’ll have more energy and last longer in youth ministry. With a team, your church is stronger. With a team, your impact broadens. With a team, your ministry skills will increase. With a team, you’ll have more fun.

…share your heart, not your strategy. (175)

One quality leader exceeds three mediocre ones without question. (180)

I’ve learned that the best youth workers are not the young, funny extroverts. They’re the ordinary men and women who love God and like students. (184)

…don’t say yes to adults who are looking for teenage friends. (184)

Most people serve because you value them enough to look them in the eyes and offer them an opportunity to take part in something bigger than themselves. (187)

9. can students handle responsibility? investing in student leaders

…adult leadership is what makes the difference in developing student leadership. (196)

Why You Want to Develop Student Leaders. Student leadership provides an enticing opportunity for students to consider full-time ministry. Student leaders aid your youth ministry. When you involve eager students in ministry, your own faith benefits. Developing leaders is a biblical command.

…focus on developing leaders, not on creating a student leadership program or a leadership team. Leaders? Yes! Team? No — at least not now. (199)

10. are we doing the right thing? evaluating youth ministry programs

Consistent and accurate evaluation humbles me, and humility is a great way to be used by God. (214)

  1. Have we identified the primary biblical purposes for this program?
  2. Are we reaching our target audience with this program?
  3. Have we met our specific intended outcomes for this program?
  4. Are leaders fulfilling their responsibilities for this program?

Once You Know the Questions to Ask… Discern the real. Define the ideal. Determine the growth areas. Make adjustments.

11. how do i make changes? navigating the phases of change

Truths about Change. There is no change without pain. People love to repeat the familiar. Programs can and should change. Change requires flexible leaders. Change requires faith-filled leaders.

Seven Phases of Change.

  1. Personal Preparation Phase. Being prepared spiritually for God’s leading.
  2. Idea Phase. Gathering ideas about change from God and other leaders.
  3. Testing Phase. Talking out the idea with a few safe people.
  4. Question-Asking Phase. Asking and answering questions that critics will ask.
  5. Selling Phase. Communicating changes to your people.
  6. Opposition Phase. Dealing with your critics.
  7. Waiting Phase. Trusting God’s timing and moving toward being personally prepared for the next change.

We don’t have to create God’s next wave of change. We just need to be prepared to catch it. – Rick Warren

12. what do i do now? defining a realistic job description for your first two years

— VIA —

There’s far more in here with very specific notes and directives. That is both the blessing and burden of this book. If you’re looking for a good guide with highlighted principles, skim. If you’re looking for specific actions, reference. If you’re looking for a good reminder or exhortation, just flip it open and put your finger down somewhere. Truth nuggets abound.