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Starting Out in Youth Ministry

Reflections from an experienced leader

I recently sat down with Jennifer Oxford, regional leader for Student Impact, the youth ministry of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. Jen has five years of ministry under her belt and lots of experience orienting volunteers into a world that is new to them. Here's an excerpt from an interview with Jen that we just published in our Orientation Guide for Volunteer Youth Leaders.

What advice would you give a volunteer who is just starting out?

The first six months are very awkward. It's like going back to junior high or high school. You're the new person without a lunch table. You go home every week and think, What am I doing? But even those confusing times help you become a better leader, because you can empathize with the new students coming into the group. And it does get better.

I would also suggest that someone starting out should mentally commit to serving for two years. Once you get through the initial awkwardness, you start to sense real ministry happening. ...

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