The Biggest Mistake You Can Make in Youth Ministry

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Don’t start with change, start with listening.

So you managed to get a new youth ministry position, congrats! That is no small victory in this economic climate. I can imagine you’re all fired up, filled to the brim with thousands of ideas on how to make this new youth ministry you just got hired for better and bigger. But can I just make one small suggestion? It’s just one thing really that will help you avoid making the biggest mistake you can make in a new youth ministry.

Don’t start with change, start with listening.

I know the youth ministry you inherited is somewhat old fashioned and not family friendly at all. And of course starting a student leadership program would be a great idea, as is having the students lead worship. I’ve seen your vision for this youth ministry and it ain’t bad, but please believe me when I urge you to wait.

Don’t start with change, start with listening.

The biggest mistake you can make in a new youth ministry is to start with change instead of listening.

You only think you know what’s happening in your new youth ministry, but you haven’t even scratched the surface. There are wounds you haven’t discovered yet and there’s a history you haven’t been told. Sure, you know the last youth pastor got fired and that he was to blame, but you don’t know all the facts, do you?

Your predecessor had the same energy when he started and his plan didn’t look all that different from yours. Yet he was fired after just two years. Haven’t you wondered why? Could it be because, just like you, he wanted to realize all his plans in two years, dreaming of the best youth ministry ever? His dreams were wonderful, his motives pure, yet he failed miserably.

It’s because he started with change, not with listening.

Your team seems like a great group, there is certainly a lot of potential there when it comes to leadership. But what you don’t know is that Rick and Laurie have huge marriage troubles, that Jeff wanted to become the new youth pastor and resents you for getting the position, that the only reason Bob and Sylvia are still serving is because she’s the pastor’s daughter and that Cindy has decided you are way too young for the job. What do you think will happen if you tell them your big plans? My guess is you won’t even last the two years your predecessor did.

You have to start with listening, not with change.

Take your first year to get to know your team, the leadership, the people in your church and, last but not least, your students. Ask questions, build relationships, gain trust. And listen.

Listen for clues to what’s happening beneath the surface.

Listen to discern what people really want and need.

Listen for the Spirit to reveal the spiritual atmosphere.

Listen for wounds, for pain, for hurt.

Listen and see where God is at work already.

Listen for dreams, for vision, for hope.

Then, but only then, start a conversation about change. A conversation mind you, not a 10-point plan on becoming the best youth ministry ever. A conversation with real people on real students in a real youth ministry where a real God is at work.

If you want your new youth ministry to ‘succeed,’ start with listening, not with change.  

Rachel Blom Rachel Blom has been involved in youth ministry in different roles since 1999, both as a volunteer as on staff. She simply loves teens and students and can't imagine her life without them. In youth ministry, preaching and leadership are her two big passions. Her focus right now is providing daily practical training through to help other youth leaders grow and serve better in youth ministry. She resides near Munich in the south of Germany with her husband and son. You can visit Rachel at

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  • Christina Thees

    the antichrist is the spirit of this world, the prince the power of the air. Revelation 16:13-14, Ephesians 2:2, Daniel 8:5, Revelation 13:18, 2 thessalonians 2:9-10, Acts 20:26-30. men preaching another gospel, another jesus. Matthew 24:24. WE are that generation that Christ saw at the mount of temptation. WE are that generation according to matthew chapter 24 when Christ told his disciples!
    2 Corinthians 11: 13-15! Satan is mindful of the things of man not of God. Isaiah 14:12-14, Luke 4:31-34- making buildings, people playing instruments with man’s hands for worship, etc. revelation 18:22-23
    Revelation 16:17 and Revelation 11:15-18 the Lord and his Christ take over both worlds. the spirit and the natural world after revelation 11:11-13.the spirit world of the great city receives her hour of judgement! this brings in the last day and hour for all mankind and the earth!
    the testimonies of the two witnesses are received and those of revelation 15:2. the seventh shofar sounds to unseal the mystery of God. the seven angels with seven vials leave the temple after the judgment of the Great City, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt.

    must watch and hear video on youtube titled, “Christ testimony of the churches -around the world.” there are two identical Jesus Christ revelation 17:8.

    most of revelation is happening in the spirit world. that’s why Jesus said it would be like the days of Noah and Lot. the abomination of desolation is happening in the spirit realm inside all these man made buildings set up for worship. the Christians and catholics, etc are not aware of what’s happening to them and around them in these places, (churches -any four wall building representing God to gather believers of Christ). these churches around the world are all connected to “The Great City” Revelation 11, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt and Mystery of iniquity. Church leaders around the world are searching of the earthly signs. this will not happen until the very last day and hour. God will not allow man to destroy the earth with nuclear bombs. read matthew 3:12 and Revelation 20:9. God sends his son to the earth with the fire behind him consuming all his enemies which are left from the resurrection of the dead and those that are alive. the body of Christ is gathered as the son of man appears at last sound of shofar, he is coming while the wheat are gathered and the tares are left as the chaff and earth is consumed by the fire of God.
    The true outpouring of the Holy Spirit of truth happens before the 5th shofar and 5th vial is poured. Revelation 7:3-4,13-14 Revelation 9:4! Joel 2:28-29-this happens in the homes of God’s people and their family members (read Isaiah 26:20-21)! the people of God flee all man made churches, anything of the identical jesus christ movement. then Joel 2:30 which shows the aftermath of the sixth and fifth shofar sounds and fifth and sixth vial poured. then Joel 2:31-32 happens…
    what all revivals, signs and wonders happening in these churches, huge ministries around the world is revelation 16:14 and revelation 19:19-20
    this message is not a joke. this is not a game. I am telling the truth! God’s people must come out of the identical jesus Christ movement NOW and seek God in prayer without ceasing and seek God’s forgiveness and be washed in the blood of Jesus Christ!