Historically, youth ministry has always been a young adults game. For many their first foray into working on staff at a church/parachurch, or even a first real professional job of any kind, comes with a call to youth ministry.
As I’ve gone to youth ministry conferences and youth pastor meet-ups over the years they always seem dominated by folks in their 20s and 30s.
And that’s awesome! Just like any career some get into and realize it’s what they were made to do. Others quickly step into and then out as they realize it’s not what they thought it was. And– probably the majority– genuinely love it while recognizing it might be a career for as long as they can but might not be forever.
A Not-So-Subtle Shift
At the same time, in the past several years it’s become more prevalent for churches to hire what I describe as “the right person for the job” as opposed to “the most prepared for the job.”
Perhaps that person is a growing and faithful member of the congregation who the lead pastor has identified as having ministry potential? Or maybe it’s a church plant and the youth ministry is delegated to a member of the plant team? Or maybe they aren’t quite sure how it worked out but– here they are, serving as their church’s youth worker.
There’s not thing wrong with that other than they don’t have much of a youth ministry background.
And so here is the current state of our tribe. We see a mix of people entering the game:
- gone to college to study youth ministry
- people who came up through their church to get the job
- people who maybe sensed a calling but it’s the path God put them on vocationally more than a path they saw ahead of time.
As I’ve seen this trend emerge my heart has turned more and more towards equipping. What I see is TONS of passion & energy for youth ministry but often times lacking the skills or relevant experience to turn that into something that’ll grow into a sustainable ministry.
They spend a lot of time re-inventing the wheel. And they spend a lot of time lone-rangering.
The Onramp Cohort of the Youth Ministry Coaching Program
Each year Marko and I get away for a few days in December to look back and evaluate the past year and dream a little about the year to come.
Among the things we talked about was what I would describe as this skill and experience gap in youth ministry. Our tribe has no problem getting people in the front door to take jobs. And there’s no real shortage of people who are absolutely in love with the profession who are 5-10-20 years in. (The Youth Ministry Coaching Program serves these folks very well!)
But how do we help people get from that passionate starting point to a healthy long-term path? This is how the Onramp Cohort was born.
We’re taking some of the best practices from the full Youth Ministry Coaching Program cohort and building cohorts for people in their first couple of years in youth ministry.
We’re making it as accessible as possible, financially accessible at $899 ($750 for the first two beta cohorts), geographically accessible by doing the whole thing online versus having to travel means anyone anywhere can join, and mixing in all sorts of great stuff like 1-on-1 coaching calls from our certified coaches, quick input blocks to deal with current stuff in your ministry, and access to our full, growing catalog of online courses.
And we’re bringing in guests like Marko and April Diaz who will help newer youth workers get on the right path for a long, healthy ministry career.
Getting Back to My Roots
For me personally, I’m stoked to be leading these new cohorts because it’ll help deal with one of my bigger needs… getting out of “office mode” and back in the game a lot more. As the Cartel has morphed and grown I’ve gotten pulled more and more into managing and doing lots of office tasks which are totally important, but not directly doing what I love– working with teenagers, training youth workers, encouraging/fostering our tribe. So to have a couple of online cohorts launching this fall, that’s huge for me!