It’s easy to rush into full-time, or part-time, student ministry when you’re young, fresh out of college, and are passionate about working with students. But if your not careful, you can rush into a position that may not be the best for you. There are a few things you need to look for when you’re searching for that first student ministry position. Like many young adults fresh out of college with a ministry degree in hand and a heart burning for students, I jumped on the first ministry position that was offered to me. I didn’t take enough time praying about it. I didn’t look into the church enough to see if my ministry philosophy matched theirs. I didn’t stop to see if my heart was passionate about the things that they were passionate about.
During my first year of student ministry, I found myself in a church that was extremely different from me. Everything from my personality to ministry philosophy didn’t line up with the church. By God’s grace, He allowed me to have a smooth exit from that church, and even though it wasn’t the church for me, I am grateful for the people who embraced a young guy and allowed me the opportunity to gain experience. I learned a lot and enjoyed my time there as their student pastor. But at the end of the day it wasn’t the right place for me. God has now placed me in a church that is a perfect match for me and I’m thankful for it.
I don’t want other young student pastors to just jump on the first position offered to them. I want them to be patient and to find a church that is in God’s will, as well as a place where God can use them to grow a healthy student ministry. Here’s what you should be looking for in that first student ministry position.
Find a church that you would attend even if you were not on staff. This is a huge one! Don’t just look for a church to work in, look for a church that you and your family or future family would enjoy. You want to be at a church you’re excited about, not because you work there, but because you go there.
Find a church your doctrine and ministry philosophy line up with. Don’t just glance over their doctrinal statement on the website. Spend time asking questions about the church’s stance on important doctrinal issues and make sure you agree. You may not agree with everything 100%, but make sure that those are the issues you can flex with. Also, make sure their ministry philosophy matches yours. Don’t expect that you’ll be able to change their philosophy or just do it your way. Their philosophy will always win, so make sure it lines up with yours.
Find a church that God gives you peace about. Don’t take a position unless you have peace from God. That means you will need to pray a lot and seek wise counsel from Godly people in your life. Wait until God gives you the green light. If there is some doubt and lack of peace, it may not mean a no, but at least spend more time praying and looking into the church. These are just a few thoughts about what you should look for in a first student ministry position. Believe me, if you’re patient and you allow God to lead; you will end up in a church that you love and a place where you can do effective ministry.
Searching for that first position is tough, but be patient and wait for the right church where you feel like God is leading you. It may take longer than you wish, but you will be glad you waited when you’re in that position that is just right for you.