The top 5 things I learned this summer, while interning for the youth ministry of my church…
1) You have to say something, at least 5 times, for the average high schooler to hear you.
For one event, I had high school and college students helping set the event up. I fed them dinner and told them when they finished to head to the lobby. I asked this at least 4 times.
Finally, one of the college students got irritated and says, “We get it, when I finish eating, I’ll go to the lobby.”
I responded with, “I have to say it several times or they won’t hear me.”
As I finish this statement, one of the high schoolers looks up at me, all confused, and asked, “What did you just say we were supposed to do?”
2) Social Media advertisement is harder than it looks.
There might have been one time this summer when I forgot to let everyone know that we were cancelling youth group for the week [insert sigh]. It happens to the best of us.
3) Students will do whatever you ask of them.
I was in charge of our student leadership team this summer. I took them on a few retreats. I’d never really done this before, but I did some research and found this team building game where the whole team had to get over a rope.
So I set this game up with the rope about 5.5 feet up off the ground. They told me there was no way they could do it. I said, “Do it anyways.”
And one head injury later, they did.
Thankfully, everyone survived, but I did earn the nickname “Satan”.
4) Ministry is a full time job. As in, some kids don’t know the meaning of 4:00 am being too late to send me a text message.
This happened too many times to count.
I learned quickly to leave my phone in a silent mode. Most emergencies can wait till the morning ;).
Learning to be flexible in recognizing that your events either go great, horribly, or don’t happen at all.
The last event I put on, I decided to put exactly no effort whatsoever. Someone asked me for help and my response was, “No. I’m putting nothing into this. I didn’t even advertise this, I will be shocked if more than 8 people show up.”
That’s when the entire church showed up for the event + all their friends.
One of the leaders came up and said, “I thought you said no one was going to show up?”
“Yeah. That was the plan.”
I look back and laugh because that was one of the most successful events that happened. Everyone showed up, games were played, people laughed, people ate, and it was a ton of fun.
And so I learned that even if you don’t plan the event, God already has. I think He loves when a community who loves Him comes together and enjoys the life He has blessed us with through laughter and friendship.
Overall, this summer was incredibly busy. It was a good and refreshing kind of busy. Ministry is hard, long, and tiring, but one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. I got to love God deeper, and love the people He surrounded me with this summer.
What could be more special than that?