3 Essential Steps To Help You Refocus In Your Youth Ministry

Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work in hand. The Sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus” ― Alexander Graham Bell

“Focus!” At times, that’s a tough thing to do in youth ministry isn’t it? The nature of our ministry will often be a moving target with changing issues and challenges. Working with students is anything but predictable. While we cannot change the foundational nature of youth ministry,  there are certain areas that should always stay in focus regardless of the changeable landscape of youth ministry. If you are struggling to stay focused and manage ministry well, you should keep reading…

Youth Ministry Focus

Just this week ‘Dave’ (one of my elders), came into my office and gave me some clear focus that I want to pass onto you today. Here’s what he said:

“I want to encourage you to stay focused on these three things: Be in the Word. Be in Prayer. Be committed to Shepherding.”

Let’s ‘focus’ in on each of these areas: 

1. Be in The Word. As a youth worker, it is essential I am drawing from a deep well of personal growth and study that I can pass on to students and my volunteers. It’s imperative that I study the Word for myself and not keep looking for my next lesson as I study.

In times of ‘spiritual drought’ it’s easy to use our own reading to find our latest message.

In times of committed reading and study, messages don’t need to be found, they simply overflow…

2. Be in Prayer: The complexity of working with students and families is challenging enough for the most seasoned veteran youth workers. However, in my experience, it is the ones who are committed to prayer who are able to display great leadership, discernment, and vision.

Prayer is the pathway to direction and discernment when commit ourselves to listening to God’s voice…

3. Be Committed to Shepherding: I began doing youth ministry as volunteer youth leader 20 years ago because I had a heart to invest and shepherd students. I knew nothing about budgets, schedules, and plans. I just wanted to love students and share Jesus with them… Although I knew very little about real discipleship back then, some days I think I was more effective back then because I had time…

Today, when Dave stopped by, it helped me to refocus on my most essential task. For me personally, I know that if I miss everything else, my imperative role is to shepherd students and volunteers. So often we can get bogged down in meetings and tasks and we quickly lose our focus on what really matters in ministry… It’s always been about the people hasn’t it?

What is distracting you? What needs your focus? What would you add to this list? How are your elders supporting you? Are you getting clear focus from others? If not, who do you need to seek out to get wisdom and a renewed focus?

Phil <><


What is taking you away from shepherding people? What needs to be ruthlessly removed from your schedule?

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  • Felicia Lapread

    Thank you for your encouraging words. It is, at times, difficult to stay focused. However, the youth are my calling. I will following the three steps that you have suggested which are not that hard to do anyway, but sometimes the cares of life try to interfere. But i believe that if i stay in prayer, in the word and continue to love teaching my children, I have the 4-5 year old( my babies), i will be fine. Thank you again for you words and I look forward to hearing from JESUS via you.:)

  • philbell

    Felicia, thank you for your kind words. You are right, it’s so easy to get distracted from the essentials. This week was a great reminder to me from a great elder and leader who I respect. Sometimes we need those reminders to get us to focus on what matters most! Thanks for reading!

    Phil <