Effective Youth Leader

How am I going to do this?

Was the question I often asked myself and to some degree even to this day. I believe as a youth leaders we often find ourselves trying to figure out what will attract our generation back to Jesus. I’ve served as youth pastor at Camino Worship Center in Edinburg, TX and over time I have experienced things behind the scenes that no one else will see. Those are the times that your character will arise and be evident. Your greatness is not what is displayed in the stage but how you handle the backstage grind.

I am not a PK (pastor’s kid) nor did I grow up in a church. I gave my life to Christ almost 7 years ago and as cheesy as it may sound it is literally the best decision I have made. From youth president to youth pastor I learned a few things in this journey that I have embarked with Jesus. In doing so my desire is to help young leaders with what I have learned in their journey. Some of the things that have helped me are:

1.     Establish a Prayer Life Style.

No matter how corny it may sound if you are dealing with Gods people then you must have a communication with God. I believe as youth leaders we have been entrusted to lead this generation and with this responsibility we cannot sustain it without His guidance. Your prayer life in secret will be evident to them in public. It is in my prayer time that I have received the strength and boldness for the season that I am in right now. Every season causes a need for prayer. Implement this lifestyle in your young people. Prayer is not boring and definitely not a waste of time. Just ask all the men and women of God who are doing great things.

2.     Engage in Focused Thinking

“Good thinkers are always in demand.” – John C. Maxwell (How Successful People Think). Making time to think about what does your youth need, what does God want them to know, how can you lead them to be better marks a huge margin on how you do youth ministry. Developing your way of thinking can literally change the way you even see rejection. The way you think will allow you to realize that you have to go through some no’s to get to your yes! Good thinkers know where they want to go and will not stop until they get there. You may not be where you want to be but you are definitely not where you used to be. How God thinks of you should tell you the great importance of thinking. 

3.     Plan in Advance

Avoid leaving any event, gatherings, or special services at last minute or even to the last week. You may say, “Julian that’s a given!” I know it is but we often think because of the years under our belt we don’t have the full need to prepare ahead of time. Planning in advance allows you to see every aspect of an event from who are going to be your volunteers to the program itself. I believe when I plan in advance there is this sense of excitement for the day to get here and that is contagious to the young people who you are leading. Upon planning ahead gives you minimal excuses to cancel any event or gatherings. You never want to cancel an event because it has an ill effect on the youth. Write down your plans and objectives at all times. We now have so many tools and resources to organize our plans. Use them.

4.     Master the Art of Delegating.

I learned early on from my Pastor Andres Tapia when he told me, “Julian, you can’t do it all by yourself.” It wasn’t that I was unable to do certain things it was the fact that if I did I would have burned out. Doing things by yourself not only affects you personally but the youth ministry as well. Learn to give small responsibilities to young people such as praying for dismissal, handing out flyers, greeting etc. Having a team is very important simply because just imagine a quarterback being the head coach, wide receiver, water boy and cheerleader all at the same time. I believe it’s a beautiful thing that we get to impart our journey and the church vision to the next generation. Know that we can’t do it by ourselves, and that’s a great thing, we need to learn to delegate. Jesus had 12 disciples and no matter what, they have marked history.

5.     Rejuvenate Yourself.

You want to give yourself time to breathe, gather your thoughts and rejuvenate yourself to keep going forward. One Saturday of the month I like to go to SPI by myself to just relax, reflect and have some me-time. Now a 6 month vacation twice a year is extremely different. Now you’re not just rejuvenating yourself you’re on long term vacation. It’s not the same. Haha. Focused thinking and taking some you-time is not the same although you do think about youth ministry but you also think about yourself and your loved ones. So take a day or two for yourself to refuel yourself and then come back ready to work for the Kingdom. Also attending some leadership seminars or conferences help you to rejuvenate and come back with new strength and boldness than ever before. Then go back to your home church and make an impact with the youth God has entrusted you to lead. Excel in your craft young leader!

Jesus never said leading people was going to be easy but it is definitely worth every moment.


By: Julian Reyes