Let me start by saying that I love my role with Youthmark. I really like what I do and have chosen this line of work; it flows directly from my previous role of 16 years as a Youth Pastor. And I am quite happy to not be a Youth Pastor right now.
Now I’ll continue by saying that there are a few things that I miss about being a Youth Pastor. I am reminded of these things as I meet with the variety of Youth Leaders I get to interact with very often. So, for the top 5 today, let’s look at the things I miss the most about my old job.
The criteria: These were all things I got to do as a Youth Pastor that I don’t necessarily have the opportunity to do right now (yes, I know I can volunteer in a church youth ministry, and do to a degree, but I am also a Young Life leader so, there is only so much time available).
Without further ado, the list.
Five: New and Innovative Retreats. Retreat for the sake of retreat has been done. However, doing a new and exciting way of retreating became a nice challenge. Whether it was crashing another church to save money and use their facility or doing a retreat where students led every aspect, there was always new twists to put on a retreat. My favorite of all of the ones I made-up was the Senior Thing. It was a pre-senior-year retreat I took with just the seniors-to-be and their core-group leaders. This retreat would focus on student leadership–not defined by being upfront, rather, being a leader is using your gift, whatever it may be.
Four: Creative & Admin Stuff. Yep, I’m a freak. I liked putting together the calendar for the entire spring, thinking through the different events, games, skits, talks. I actually enjoyed assigning this person for that role, emailing the chart and keeping up the general communication chain. Like I said, I was a freak. I miss being a freak that way. I equally enjoyed the “Big” program events that needed creativity behind them. Like a once-a-year big retreat where we’d pull out the stops with the program. Because I was so non-program for the most part, doing it once a year was a lot of fun.
Three: Staff Retreat. I could categorize this one as the entire Volunteer team, because I did love and truly miss having those teams, but I REALLY loved doing our staff retreats. I enjoyed ending the summer with a couple weeks of “down” time for the students before we started the program year. During this time I ran the aforementioned “Senior Thing” but would also do a staff retreat during this time. It was a time to do some training, but also bond as a team. We’d get away to a cabin, eat well, tell lot’s of stories and play lots of games. It was really part training and part reward for those involved.
Two: Mission (before, during & after). It should come as no surprise that THIS is one of the things I miss the most. Though I still participate to a degree and will from time to time go on a mission, it’s not the same as when you are the shepherd of your own group. I loved the entire process of interviewing, training, taking and following up after the mission. It’s where this whole Mission51 concept was conceived. On the actual missions the “family time” at night was certainly the highlight! The highlight after was seeing students come home with a passion for their lost family members and friends and the struggle that ensued seeing that the field is really no different than the home-turf, but it sure feels different when it is loved ones you’re trying to reach.
One: Core-Group. No doubt about it, the best part of being a Youth Pastor was having my own small group of guys I discipled through their high school years. I think I was good at it (not in a cocky way, rather I believe God gifted me in this area). The weekly interaction with a bunch of teen guys and seeing them grown through the years and continue in friendship is such a blessing. I count it an honor that to this day I am still in contact with most of the guys I have been involved with through these groups.
I am sure there are many other things that I miss. Church Staff meetings NOT being one of them. Did I miss any?