Do you have the assignment of leading youth and college ministry in your church? If so, you’re not alone. Many churches hire one person to lead both of these ministries. Though it may seem on the surface like a logical combination it can be quite a difficult assignment to balance ministry in both areas. We asked some leaders who do both to give us their perspectives on balancing ministry.
What is most challenging about a dual position?
Time was a common theme. There never seems to be enough time to do all that is needed in both the youth and college areas. “What is most challenging is making both ministries a priority,” says Cody Favor of First Baptist Church Abilene. “It is very difficult to make each one ‘top priority.’ Naturally speaking when more time is devoted to one, I lose a little with the other.”
Both youth and college ministry are highly relational and require a high level of personal involvement. Though none of the leaders who answered were “assigned” a set amount of time to devote to each group, they continue to work to balance time spent. Jason Smith, Minister to Students at Hampton Road Baptist in Desoto says his balance has shifted over time as the group has grown. From an estimate of 95% -5% time wise 3 years ago to 75%-25% now that the college group has grown.
Dividing time commitments and schedule can also be personally draining. Trey Bledsoe, Minister to Students at Canyon Creek Baptist Church in Temple says there is a need to have, “seasons of down time to refresh.” It’s meeting the simple demands of a full schedule.
“It is a reality that I cannot be at every youth and college event that is on the calendar,” says Cody Favor.
So, how do you meet the challenge?
From Jason Smith: “Getting college students invested in my youth! My Sunday night discipleship program is run by my college students."
Cody Favor: “Finding people who can invest the necessary time and energy to help make both successful and healthy. Fortunately, I have great volunteers and 2 part time staff (HSU Students) who make the ministry successful. Both ministries do better when more people are involved so we have found that the challenge of doing both has actually helped both ministries.”
Trey Bledsoe: “We tend to focus more in college in the fall as we incorporate new students and refresh old relationships. And we tend to focus more on youth in spring and summer because of fewer conflicts with football and band.”
What else is working well?
Jason Smith: "Starting with a core group, that I invest in personally, as in, I disciple them and am looking for those who want to be leaders and may go into ministry. Once they were on board they started bringing in people/friends to the group."
Trey Bledsoe: Bible Study. "They like the Francis Chan BASIC series, especially the one on prayer. I can recommend it because it is something that can be done in an hour or so or broken up over many weeks."
Cody Favor: "What is working best for us in the college ministry area is how we stay connected with college students who are graduates of our youth group. We have made it a priority to keep in contact with these students whether they are at a local university or hours away. Our goal is that our youth continue to be disciples as they emerge into adulthood so we see the need to continue to provide support, encouragement, ministry and missions opportunities, and connection to adults who care for them. This has helped our college ministry and has helped our focus with high school seniors as well."
Our thanks to these Youth and College Ministers who contributed their perspectives to this article. And thanks to all of you who work to invest in the lives of both youth and college students.