One of the biggest challenges of student ministry in the smaller church is the typical need for student ministry workers to wear multiple hats. Through my years in ministry, I have never been just the youth pastor. Most often, I have served as a youth and worship pastor. In addition, I have served in the areas of family, outreach, media and more. There have been times when I have even been the church photographer. To be honest, I have enjoyed the challenges of approaching multiple ministries at once. It is never boring.
Many of us in normative sized churches (those 125 and under) will have to wear multiple hats. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it can be fun. However, it can be stressful if you aren’t used to balancing sometimes very different activities. So how do we wear multiple hats without breaking under the strain?
• Make your relationship with God the priority. As you navigate multiple areas of ministry, it is vital that you make your time with God the most important thing. We must minister out of the overflow. If we don’t spend time with God, there will be nothing to share with others. This is of even greater importance as you balance various responsibilities.
• Invest in your family. If you have a family, God has given you an enormous responsibility in discipling the children in your home. They must know that you love them and they are important to you. That means attending their games, concerts and other activities. You will sometimes have to make some hard decisions, but make sure your family knows they are of great value to you.
• Use a calendar and schedule. There are all sorts of calendar apps and systems you can utilize as you plan and schedule. Find one you like, then use it. If you don’t stay on top of your own schedule, you will be overwhelmed by it. A good approach to scheduling will help your ministry and your family.
• Understand the expectations of the church and leadership. One of the biggest issues that arises is when a church has not expressed what they expect out of their staff member. They may intend for this to be a 60/40 split or some other divide, but if that isn’t communicated well on the front end, there will be unneeded tension. If you are the staff member, be sure to ask questions as you head into the position. If you are the church leadership, make sure the potential staff member knows what the church is looking for in their service.
• Communicate well with those involved in your areas of ministry. If you are leading multiple ministries at your church, take time to communicate well with the various groups to whom you minister. As a youth and worship pastor, there were clearly times that I would have to focus on our worship ministry. There were also times when I needed to lean into our student ministry more. I didn’t always do it well, but it is important to communicate with your pastor and the people connected to those areas of ministry. Let them know what is pressing for your attention. Most will understand if you simply take time to share.
Would it be easier if we only had to focus on one area of ministry? Yes. Is it the reality for most of us? No. Be open to serving your church in various ways and seek to embrace where God has placed you. If you approach your ministry thoughtfully, you will be able to put on those multiple hats without breaking under the strain.