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In a Pandemic, Youth Workers are “Essential Workers”

In the 1920’s, after the Great War and the Spanish Flu Pandemic, Gertrude Stein, the mentor and patron of Ernest Hemingway, referred to youth as “the lost generation.“[i] A century later as youth are faced with a new pandemic, the world is at risk of another lost generation; one where the global youth sub-culture is defined by despair, discord, and disillusionment caused by the seismic cultural shock of COVID-19 and the resulting social tremors to come. In this social pandemic, societies must view youth workers – from mental health providers to youth pastors to community center directors – as essential workers (not that I’m suggesting they should ignore distancing or ‘shelter in place’ orders, but that their jobs are more important than ever). Before we can comprehend the magnitude of this statement, a few words about culture are in order.

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Pivoting in a Pandemic: Five Shifts in Global Youth Ministry

In the uncertain times ahead, I believe global youth ministry is being presented with at least five pivotal opportunities to shift how we minister to and through youth. At every level – from local church ministers to denominational and social movement influencers – God is stirring significant shifts in the world of youth ministry as ministers adapt to the crisis brought on by the Coronavirus. As Colin Piper, Youth Commissioner of the World Evangelical Association, recently shared, “It’s a surreal season where on the one hand everything has come to a stop and on the other, things are developing at breakneck speed.” In my work with youth ministers around the globe, I’ve noticed five pivots amidst this pandemic.

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Take the Compensation Survey

Help us help you!

We are once again partnering with fellow youth worker Dan Navarra on his Youth Worker Compensation Survey.

Over the past three years this survey, and the reports that come out of it, have helped countless youth workers like yourself get compensated more fairly. Want to get a raise? You need data. Want to make sure you’re hired at the right rate of pay? You need data. 

That’s why we need you to participate! The more youth workers who take the survey the more accurate it’ll be. Help us advocate for you.

The survey takes a few minutes but is well worth it. We’ll even send you the completed report when it’s ready in December.

Who Should Take the Survey? 
If you are a part-time or full-time youth worker with youth ministry as part of your paid work duties. As much as we love interns and other support staff roles, this survey is for the paid youth worker. 

TAKE THE SURVEY

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Onramps – A cohort for youth workers in their first few years

We are currently wrapping up our second group of the Onramp Cohort of the Youth Ministry Coaching Program. It’s been so great and encouraging. We’re looking forward to launching the next one later this Spring.

What is the Onramp Cohort? It’s an online training approach focused on skills and priorities needed by people in their first few years of youth ministry.

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2019 Youth Pastor Compensation Report

In my experience there are two big factors that drive people out of professional youth ministry.

  1. Burnout – We are a tribe that works too hard, for too many hours, for too long, and forgets to take care of ourselves. One of the things my co-laborer at The Youth Cartel, Mark Oestreicher, says is, “A healthy youth ministry starts with a healthy youth worker.” I’ve seen this play out time and again throughout my career. Sadly, many of us drop out of youth ministry– and ministry altogether– because of the impact of burnout.
  2. Compensation – When I started out in youth ministry I think I was just amazed that I got paid for doing what I loved and was called by God to do. But then my wife and I had kids, bought a house, started thinking about the future, started dealing with the expenses of raising a family… adult life got expensive! Over the years I’ve watched an enormous amount of my friends leave youth ministry for other types of ministry or other careers altogether over compensation issues.

These two items are inter-related. In our Youth Ministry Coaching Program cohorts we work hard on the first item, helping youth workers develop life rhythms that promote longevity in ministry. And we’re thankful to partner with Dan Navarra to bring issues around compensation to the forefront.

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Take the Youth Pastor Compensation Survey 2018

We all know youth workers are underpaid.

Fellow youth worker Dan Navarra set out on a simple mission last year to do something about it. He created his first compensation survey to get fellow youth workers the information they needed to have an informed conversation with their church about their compensation.

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5 Tips for Launch Week 

For most youth ministries around the country this week is huge as you launch your fall programming.

Sure, you’ve not even finished your expense reports from all the summer stuff, but hey… it’s go time! LAUNCH WEEK! Without further ado, here’s some tips to make the most of Launch Week.

5 Tips for Launch Week

  1. Fun! It might sound crazy to mention, but don’t forget to make your Launch Week fun. Why? Because when people have a good time, when they laugh, when they act a little silly, they let their guard down. See, having fun isn’t just the opposite of being boring, it’s also highly functional. Whether it’s with games, skits, funny videos, or something else… fun levels the playing field and gets everyone on the same page.
  2. Vision! Imagine you’re a middle or high school student. The first couple weeks of school are all about casting vision as each class goes over what they’ll learn, what to expect, and how to prepare yourself to come to class. Your Launch Week should do the same thing. If you’ve got a big, over-arching vision for the school year this is the time to share it. “What are we trying to accomplish together this year?” Don’t make the mistake of launching into a 6-week series without casting some big vision for the year to come.
  3. Teasers! During the first couple of weeks, as you’re casting vision, as you’re having fun– shamelessly tease big items on your ministry calendar for the year to come. Is it the Fall retreat? Is it the Spring Break Mission Trip? Is it camp next summer? Start talking about it right now so that your group will start looking forward to it… and more importantly, they’ll put it on their family calendar.
  4. Announce, announce, announce! During Launch Week you’re going to repeat yourself a lot.During Launch Week you’re going to repeat yourself a lot. And that’s OK.  Families are establishing new schedules and routines and you need to over announce things to make sure your stuff gets in. Don’t assume they know anything, say it over and over again. “We meet Wednesday nights at what time?”
  5. Train your volunteers! At the end of the day, volunteers need to know a lot more than when to show up and what to do. They need to know WHY you are doing things, they need to know HOW they fit into your vision, they need to know HOW to prepare for each week.

Ready to get a Masters Degree in Launch Week? Do all of this with parents, too. I mean… that’s who is actually getting them there, right?