Do you have an office? If so, what does it look like?
How would a visitor feel once they walk in?
How would a student feel?
How about a parent?
Here's the bottom line of this blog post:
I've been a part of lots of youth minister circles and social media groups in which youth ministers complain of not being taken seriously. They argue that the church leadership sees youth ministers as fun-loving entertainers. Others see them as event coordinators. And some youth ministers are not even considered as ministers or pastors. This treatment also comes from parents and teens themselves. What have we done to deserve this?
Well, for one, I'd like to challenge all youth ministers to challenge the status quo. That's right. I'm going to be in your face in this blog post, but remember that I'm on your side.
Here we go...
Stop making your office an extension of your personality. Sure, it's fun to decorate your office with a bunch of Star Wars memorabilia or collect a bunch of silly stuff to make visitors laugh or ask questions. But, your office should be a welcome place for parents, staff, team members, visitors, and students to drop in. I'm not saying that you need to take down all your Nerf Guns from the wall (maybe you should), but I AM saying that you need to stop making your office a man cave, or a woman cave, or some place you escape to.
If you want to be taken seriously, you have to take your office space seriously as well. If you've been given an office or office space, you should do your best to be effective in that space AND effectively minister to students, parents, and visitors. You should also be able to hold meetings, planning sessions, and prayers in your office space. Don't just decorate it like you did your dorm room. That would stink! (See what I did there?)
Are you offended yet? That's okay. I'm offended whenever I walk into a youth room or office and feel like I'm in an episode of "Hoarders" or I'm back in my old college dorm with my extremely messy roommates (Sorry Sam, Junior, and Dan). Is collecting dust bunnies, coffee stains on your desk, and 17 Amazon boxes a part of being a youth minister? No. Though these things, unfortunately, come with the job, we do have to handle them properly, responsibly, and effectively.
I get it. None of us went to school or seminary to learn how to stack chairs, vacuum the floor after a movie night, or wash the rental van after someone barfed in it (Yes. I typed "barfed" instead of "puked". I'm from the 80s). But, you are the youth minister! Either delegate or do it yourself. But, get it done because it is your responsibility within the ministry under your care.
Here's a confession. I have a small R2-D2 that sits on my bookshelf right by my Youth Ministry books. I also have four small Celtics stickers on a wall by my coffeemaker. But, that's about it. My Nerf Guns sit in a closet. When a student drops in, I say, "wanna see something cool?" And I show them my Nerf arsenal. When a parent drops in, they look at my bookshelf and sometimes even ask to borrow some books. When a visitor drops in, they look at my high school and college diplomas on the wall (Maybe I look sketchy). When a staff member drops in, they check out my Relevant and Group magazines or use one of my commentaries. I have a couch where church staff loves to hang out on. My desk is cleared and wiped clean every few weeks or so.
I want my office to be a welcoming, serene place where ANYONE can drop in. That is how our offices should function. Does yours?
So, now that I've written about your office and how it should function, it's time to leave it and spend time with students and parents in coffee shops, at sporting events and more. Get out of your office space and into a staffer's office to build community, share a coffee, and dialogue about vision and strategy. Ask them how you can help their ministry. (More on this in a future blog post)
Want to be taken seriously in ministry? Take my advice seriously. I'm serious.
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