Welcome back to Uncomfortable Youth Ministry! As you know, my goal with this blog is to encourage and challenge all of us to do youth ministry with excellence. The topic for today’s post is an integral part of doing just that. There’s no way that we can be excellent without it – primarily because that would involve a whole lot of pride. Today I want to talk about the need for mentoring and peer groups. Let’s get right to it!
This post as a whole is about how we need to be involved with other people, who can speak into our ministry and invest in us. There are primarily two groups of people I’m concerned with, mentors and peers. Mentors are the people who are usually older, but have certainly been in ministry longer than you have. They’re the people who can provide wisdom and advice that’s been forged over a long period of time.
Perhaps the most comical and extreme example of the value of mentors can be found in 1 Kings 12. After King Solomon dies, his son Rehoboam takes his place. In verse 8, we read that “he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him.” When Rehoboam casts aside possible mentors and only looks to his buddies for advice, they tell him to brag that his pinky finger is bigger than his father’s manhood, and to come down hard on the people to assert authority. That didn’t end well – Israel was split into 2 kingdoms from that point on.
The negative effects of us forsaking mentors might not be that drastic, but it is certainly foolish. There are things we can only understand about God, people, ministry, and life after decades, and rather than wait to learn all of them on our own, we should look to those who have gone before us. We need to recognize the value that mentors have to provide perspective and to disciple us, as we seek to disciple others.
So don’t be a fool and forsake mentoring. It has to be present if you want to be as excellent as you can in your ministry. While it’s a valuable thing for us to have more experienced voices in our life from all walks of life, I want to stress the importance of having mentors who understand the uniqueness of ministry, especially youth ministry. Perhaps your mentors might include former professors or pastors, but I hope you can think of at least 1 person who can fill this role in your life.
Mentors are essential, and peer groups are equally as important. The main reason why we need to be in relationship with other people who are in youth ministry alongside us is for just that reason. Often, the people who are mentors to us are not currently in a youth ministry setting (and if they are, that’s awesome!). We need to be in relationship with other people who are currently in youth ministry, because youth culture is constantly changing. There are unique challenges and opportunities in youth ministry in 2018.
I’m part of a group of youth pastors and youth workers who meet once a month. We eat together and discuss topics that are pertinent to our ministries. I encourage you to investigate and see if there is something like that in your area, and if there’s not, then start one! Unless you’re like an hour from the nearest church, there have to be other youth pastors and parachurch workers near you, and you all would benefit from building into each other. Now, I’m not talking about networking. I’m not really the networking type, and if we’re networking for networking sake, that’s not what I’m interested in. Let’s build relationships to encourage and challenge each other to deeper faithfulness, not so we’ve got some contacts.
It is absolutely essential that we do not attempt to be a lone ranger in youth ministry. Whether you are the only person in your church or ministry who is responsible for the teenagers or you’re part of a large youth ministry staff, you need to have mentors and peer groups in your life who you can look to for wisdom, advice, and to discuss what’s going on in your ministry. We want the teenagers we serve to have both of these relationships in their life, so why wouldn’t we want to have them to?
P.S. The title of this post is inspired by this.