3 Tools For A Strong Personal Care Ministry Toolbox

Allison Williams
October 1st, 2019

This post is part of a feature series highlighting insights, encouragement, and inspiration from many of our speakers at this year’s National Youth Workers Convention in Tampa, FL. To join us, these speakers, and thousands of other youth workers, register today!

Being a youth worker can feel like a never-ending list of tasks: Prepare a lesson, run background checks, organize receipts, grab coffee with that potential volunteer, sit through meetings, program youth group for this week… the list is never-ending. Everything we do feels critical to someone, right? 

Sometimes in the midst of our busyness we can miss the moments where students, families, and volunteers in our ministry need more personal attention and care. 

Taking time to individually care for people has many benefits:

Personally caring for people was Jesus’ example of ministry to us.

Jesus knew that one person mattered. We see Him prove that time and again in the Gospels. We can read about many occasions where Jesus was in a large crowd but still stopped to take time with one person that needed His attention. 

He ate with them.  

He listened to them. 

He touched them. 

May we as ministers never forget that a person trumps our schedule or task list. When we pause and care for a person in their time of need or crisis, we are directly following the example of Jesus. 

Relationships can be strengthen in difficult seasons. 

Youth ministries embrace the power of relationship and connection. That’s why we recruit small group leaders and strive to keep leader/student ratio lows. Students want to walk in the door and feel connection and belonging in a community. 

When you as a youth worker walk through a hard season with a student, family, or volunteer, you further build trust into that relationship. The ultimate goal is for that person to feel the love of Jesus through your care of them. The hope is also for them to feel loved and more deeply rooted in your community after their challenging season has passed. 

Done well, personal care aids longevity in ministry. 

Most of our important day-to-day tasks in ministry aren’t memorable. For example, you might feel like you absolutely crushed your message this week, but I bet you’d have a hard time finding a kid that will still remember it next semester. Or perhaps you are so proud of your calendar graphics until you see that beautifully printed mailing crumpled in the floorboard of a student’s car. Most everyday tasks are quickly forgotten. 

What people will remember are the times that they needed someone and you were there. That you were in the ER after their kid’s first car accident (and let them borrow your phone charger). That you wiped their tears in that difficult moment in the cemetery (and made sure someone fixed them supper that evening so they could just rest). That you gave them a prayer to pray or a Scripture to hang onto when it felt like their world was caving in around them. That you sat with them and cried when life on earth just didn’t seem fair. We do those things because they are what we are called to do as followers of Jesus. 

But as an added bonus, doing personal care well helps you stay at your church for the long haul. When church leaders have to make difficult decisions they will be able to recall those individual moments where you showed love to people. Anyone can be trained to program summer camp, but you were the person that was there when one family was navigating a miscarriage or that freshman was trying to get a grip on a sudden split at home. Those moments matter and will speak volumes about your ministry over time. 

Personal Care Toolbox (a breakout that I’m leading first thing Sunday morning at NYWC), will give you practical methods to personally minister to individuals and families in your care. Just like a toolbox in your garage has tools to handle different kinds of repairs, this breakout will attempt to supply you with various tools to work with when facing various pastoral care situations. 

More often than we’d like, we get phone calls or texts that make our stomachs drop. My goal for our time together is that you feel better prepared and equipped the next time you walk into one of those unexpectedly heartbreaking days. Being prepared in this area is critical and often overlooked. You will walk away from this breakout with ideas and resources that could be put into use immediately in your context no matter the size.   

Allison Williams

Allison has been in full-time ministry in Southern Indiana for 14 years. Her current ministry is crib to college. She has a heartbeat for pastoral care and seeks out creative ways to shepherd and encourage students and youth workers. She’s created over 40 youth ministry resources available on Download Youth Ministry. Allison has never met a stranger, loves cooking up new recipes, and is so organized she has two label makers (just in case).

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.