Welcome to today’s edition of our new series Real Life Youth Ministry! Each week we are sharing the story of someone doing Youth Ministry somewhere around the world. We all need encouragement in ministry at times. And sharing stories is one way we can encourage others on their journey. The Devil loves to bring discouragement, confusion, and make us feel like we’re not doing a good job or just aren’t good enough to be used by God. But the Bible says,
“And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.” –Revelation 12:11
That’s why it’s so important to share our stories! Today we have the amazing Tina from Gilbert in the USA to share what ministry is like as a volunteer leader of a girls’ small group. I love that Tina is in this for the long haul and has stuck with the same group of girls for the last few years. Welcome, Tina!
Tell us a little about yourself and how you ended up in Youth Ministry.
I started by helping out in our junior high ministry for two years and then moved up to high school when all my 8th grade girls moved up. They are now Sophomores. I love attending events and leading a small group once a week. I have always wanted to volunteer with teens and this was the door that God opened for me.
What does a typical Youth night look like for you?
We meet on Wednesday nights from 7:00pm-8:30pm. We usually start the evening with a crazy game of some kind and then head into worship before our youth pastor gives the talk for the night. After the talk we have about 20 minutes for small groups where the girls and boys are split and then split again by grade level.
What is something your ministry does well and how did that come about?
I think that our church does a great job at getting kids to walk through our doors. We have events and social media to promote such events. We have a student leadership team to greet students and leaders to engage new faces.
Do you have any funny stories to share?
One year at a winter camp my daughter and her friends totally pranked me. I was just standing around talking and they just creamed me with shaving cream. I wiped some off my face and went after them. One of the girls ran and hid in a bathroom stall and so I ran after her. I couldn’t get through the locked door so I went in the stall next door, stood on the toilet and jumped to reach her. I was successful in getting her and tearing my arm up pretty good. I was bleeding A LOT. I still have a scar to this day!
What was your biggest challenge initially, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was actually getting to know the other adult leaders and to not shy away from them. I felt very inferior to those who actually worked for the church instead of volunteering. I took at least a good 6-8 months to really feel like part of the team.
What keeps you going when you’re feeling frustrated, worn down, or just want a night off?
My girls keep me going. I have been with them for 4 years now and I know that I am important to them and they know they are important to me. Teens face so many uncertainties and so much change. I really want to be a constant for them. My love is never changing unless it’s growing. These teens are a part of who I am and I feel blessed that God chose me to mentor them.
Any words of advice you’d give to others starting out in Youth Ministry?
The older kids try and act really cool like they don’t need adults around but they do. They need you. They want to have real discussions about life. They want you checking in and holding them accountable. They come to church to have a great time with friends and to learn about who God really is but they also come because they know you love them. Ask them the tough questions. Ask them how they are and then have time to listen to the answer. Question them about how they are spending time and who they are spending it with. Ask them how their journey with God is going, and almost most importantly talk to them when you know they are headed down the wrong path. They can handle the confrontation. They want to know that you care, that someone sees them. They need you!
–Tina, Gilbert (USA)