No, it’s not the percentage of Student Pastors that are prepared for Youth Service tonight or the probability of that JR High boy using deodorant today.

Statistics say that only about 7% of ministry happens behind the pulpit.

That means 93% of your effectiveness as a Youth Leader will be predicated upon how you lead outside of the 30 minutes per week you speak to your students from behind the “sacred desk.”

I’ve been involved in Student Ministry in some capacity for close to 18 years now. In that time frame, I have had the opportunity to cross paths with a ton of leaders. After studying the most successful of them, do you know what trait stood out to me the most?

You don’t have to be a great orator to be a successful Student Pastor.

Many leaders are gifted communicators. I believe some of the most amazing and talented speakers come from the ranks of Student Ministry. And while I think it is important to work on that craft, it is not a prerequisite for reaching students. It is not a requirement to impact the lives of students.

Like I said, only 7% of ministry happens behind the pulpit.

There was a huge disparity in the communication skill set of the Youth Workers that I studied. Some were phenomenal. Some had speech impediments. Some motivated you to the point you felt you could run through a brick wall. Others caused you stop what you were doing and think introspectively. Some bounced from topic to topic like a Kangaroo on a sugar high.

Not all of them were great communicators, but ALL of them were great connectors. All of them spent extra time engaging their students on a one-on-one basis. By their own admission, it didn’t come naturally for all of them. It was something that many of them had to work on. It was a continual growth process.

But without exception, every single successful Youth Worker paid special attention to the genuine connections they made with their students.

If 7% of what makes you successful happens behind a pulpit, then 70% of your success is going to be whether or not you are connecting with your students on a personal level when you’re NOT standing behind it.

(the other 13% is connecting with parents, planning events, administration, and your pastoral relationship, by the way.)

One of the biggest discouraging factors for Student Pastors are feelings of inadequacy. We’ll talk about them more on this site in the future, but one of the major of those is relative to communication ability.

“I don’t feel like I’m a good communicator”
“I can’t teach/preach like __________________”
“I’m not as smart as ____________ or as funny as ____________ or as popular as _____________”

And so we let something that equates to 7% of our successfulness cause us to feel like we’re failing as a Youth Leader. Yes, develop that craft. Work on your skill set. Listen to other communicators to glean ideas. Study talented communicators throughout history.

But more importantly, connect with your students beyond the pulpit. Engage in their lives. Build those relationships. Develop and cultivate that bond between you and your students.

And I guarantee you’ll be the most successful Youth Worker your congregation has ever seen!


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