RYM 027: Setting Yourself Up For Long-Term Ministry

Whether you’re brand new to youth ministry or been in the trenches for years, establishing a plan for longevity is important—for you and the youth ministry you lead. But what does that plan for longevity look like? This week, ministry leaders are joined by Kurt Johnston, Pastor to Students at Saddleback Church, for a conversation on how youth workers can best set themselves up for effective long-term ministry.

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What’s the number one thing you wish you would have known on your first day as a youth pastor? (4:30)

Pay attention to yourself and learn about yourself as you go. (5:00)

When we build our ministries around ourselves, we will either cap the potential of our ministries or set ourselves up for burnout. (9:00)

Many people don’t last in ministry because they don’t have the necessary organizational intelligence. (12:00)

You last by refusing to quit. (15:00)

Student ministry is the best way to prepare to lead a church. (21:30)

What are the wins at your church? (24:00)

One of the keys to longevity in youth ministry is having a long view of the trajectory that you’re on. (26:00)

How can a youth pastor set themselves up for effective long-term ministry? (31:00)

Know Jesus. Know yourself. Know your church. (31:00)

To the young leader: Give yourself grace and room to mess up. (34:00)


Check out lots of Kurt Johnston books and resources: SimplyYouthMinistry.com

Book: Middle School Ministry Made Simple by Kurt Johnston

Book: My Faith (Middle School Survival Series) by Kurt Johnston and Mark Oestreicher

Personality test: Enneagram

Strengths test: Strengths Finder




CJ is the Managing Editor for XP3 High School and Social Media Strategist for XP3’s blog and social media platforms. CJ has been leading small groups for middle school and high school students at North Point Community Church for the past 10 years. He also placed 5th in his 8th grade class fun run. CJ and his wife, Teri, live in Alpharetta, GA.



Kurt has been leading students since 1988. Currently, Kurt is the Pastor to Students at Saddleback Church, where he provides leadership and coaching to the junior high, high school, and college teams at all of Saddleback’s global campuses. Kurt loves to encourage youth workers and has created dozens of resources with that goal in mind. When he’s not in the youth ministry trenches, Kurt likes to hang out with his family, surf, and ride dirt bikes in the desert.



Tom Shefchunas is the Executive Director of Student Strategy at Orange. In this role, he leads the development and strategy for XP3 Middle School and High School curriculum. Previously, Tom was North Point Ministries’ Multi-Campus Director of Transit, their middle school ministry, for 12 years. And before that, he spent 10 years as a high school teacher, coach, and principal. Additionally, he is the co-author of Lead Small with Reggie Joiner. Tom and his wife, Julie, live in Cumming, Georgia, with their three children, Mac, Joey, and Cooper.



Crystal currently leads the XP3 High School initiative at Orange. Before that, she spent 10 years as a high school teacher and student ministry leader, doing everything from leading small groups to speaking to curriculum design. Crystal and her husband, Tom, live in Alpharetta, GA with an ill-tempered chihuahua named Javier.

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Orange Conference 2018