Nothing can zap your energy quite like walking into the youth room and seeing the teens just sitting there on their phones, bored out of their minds. Here is how to get YOUR teens fired up!
Know Your Why (and share it!)
Make sure you know why your ministry exists, but also be sure to communicate that WHY to the teens. Young people need to understand that your ministry exists for more than just smashing pie in each others faces. Especially your teens in leadership roles, they need to understand why you do the things you do. Upperclassmen tend to drop off as their schedule gets busier, but teens who understand the mission and goals of your ministry are more likely to get excited about being a part of it.
Get Excited About THEM
Sometimes youth ministers think that the way to get young people fired up about the ministry is just for them to be excited about the program and events. While that is important, it is actually secondary. For teens to care about the things you care about, you have to be excited about THEM first. Take an active interest in their lives and the things they care about(like sports, music, etc) Their energy level about your ministry will directly reflect your energy about things that are important to them!
Set the Example
You have to be the thermostat, not the thermometer. You have to SET the temperature and excitement level in the room, not just reflect it. Sometimes you don’t have the energy after a long day, a long week, whatever it is. But you have got to get yourself pumped up before you walk into your ministry. Create rituals that get you in the right mindset before a youth night, whether it is a song, a specific prayer, or maybe just grabbing a cup of coffee. Just make sure your energy is high! Gather your volunteer team to pray before each youth night to make sure everyone is ready and fired up before the teens walk in.
Let Them Lead
Young people are WAY more excited to see their peers up front leading every once in a while instead of just the same adults every week. Create leadership roles, but don’t feel like they have to be permanent positions. You can add things like “Teen Takeover” nights where a group of leadership students help plan and lead the youth night. You can have a teen take photos to share on your social media pages. Whatever it is, offer them opportunities to lead and give them the tools they need to succeed in that role.
The Space Matters
This one is difficult because we hear from youth ministers all the time who don’t have a dedicated youth room (or their “youth room” is an old broom closet!) Even if you have a shared space, invest in making your space a fun, cool place to hang out. You can set up lights, throw rugs, decor, etc. Just the fact that you took time to transform the space can get teens excited to be there. Even on a budget, you can change a space and create an environment that helps set the tone for your ministry.
It’s Not About YOU
If you want the energy level in your ministry to go through the roof, you have to realize that it’s not about YOU. You aren’t creating a program suited to your personal tastes, needs, or desires. You are creating it for young people and for them to encounter Jesus! When you are picking music, topics, decor etc. make sure your are doing it with the teens in mind. The goal is not to have the teens become a fan of you, but rather for them to become a fan of JESUS.
There is nothing more important you can be doing than praying for your ministry and for your teens! Pray for them, pray with them, and try different types of prayer. Find the type of prayer that fits your community and change it up every once in a while. If you are not praying daily for your students, and praying for them by name, NOW is the time to start! You can write each of their names on an index card and cover your wall with them so you don’ forget anyone.