The job of a youth minister is different from any other typical job.
They are expected by many to invest in the lives of the teens that make up their youth group.
If taken seriously, this is not just a nine-to-five job that you can clock out and manage not think about the rest of the night.
Youth ministers spend much of their time after their office hours planning events, writing sermons or devotionals and spending one-on-one time with teens.
Every year there is a National Conference on Youth Ministries, which attracts hundreds of youth ministers from Churches of Christ giving them a much needed break and rest time from their busy schedules.
One of Oklahoma Christian University’s youth ministry professors Dudley Chancey serves as an executive board member for the conference.
That is not the only tie the university has to the conference.
A few students from campus were able to attend this year’s conference held in Colorado Springs, as well as many alumni of the school.
The week of Jan. 7-10, junior and current youth intern at Memorial Road Church of Christ Sadie Rosenthal was able to attend the conference along with her youth staff and get a closer look at the lives of Church of Christ youth ministers from around the country.
One of the first obvious things one could notice from looking around the room at the conference is most of the youth ministers in attendance are younger men who are newly married and starting families.
A survey taken of the attendees the first night showed most of the youth ministers have been in youth ministry between five and eight years.
Since most of the youth ministers were married, there was a lot of emphasis put on the wives of the youth ministers.
They are seen as just as important as the youth ministers.
Carla is a 2010 communications graduate from Oklahoma Christian and attended the conference along with her husband Curtis.
Curtis also graduated from Oklahoma Christian and is now one of the youth ministers at Memorial Road Church of Christ.
Carla speaks about the benefits of attending the conference as a youth minister’s wife and the importance of her role.
“This is my fourth year attending NCYM,” Carla said. “I like to learn whatever Curtis learns at this conference, just because then I can be a real asset to him, and it helps me to understand his job better and to be a support system as well as encourage him.”
Many consider being a youth minister’s wife as much of a job as being the actual youth minister.
Carla was well aware of this and started preparing for this role of her life while she was still attending Oklahoma Christian.
“When I was at Oklahoma Christian I even took a class with Dudley Chancey just because I knew that sometimes I would be as much of a minister as Curtis, since I knew I was marrying a youth minister and that it was going to be a big part of my life,” Carla said. “I just want to learn as much as I can at this conference so that I can help Curtis anytime I am needed.”
Carla is thankful for the time she is able to spend with her husband in youth ministry.
“It really hasn’t been too hard on us,” Carla said. “I feel like some people may struggle with youth ministry life just because there are no set work hours in youth ministry. For us it has just always been fun because we have always been in it together as a team.”
Current senior and New Hope Church of Christ youth minister Corey was also able to attend the conference.
Corey has been the youth minister at New Hope for two and-a-half years and has been able to attend NCYM for the past six years.
Corey talks about his times attending NCYM before becoming a youth minister and what brought him to the decision of making it his career.
“I was pretty on the fence about youth ministry,” Corey said. “I knew I was interested, but I didn’t know for sure if that was what I wanted to do as a career.”
Now that Corey is a youth minister, his appreciation of NCYM has grown.
“I feel that every youth minister that is able to attend NCYM should,” Corey said. “NCYM serves as the best form of re-energizing and just getting a fresh look on how your youth ministry is doing. It’s good to escape for a week from your typical day-to-day routine and focus on the bigger picture of what you’re doing right and what you can improve in your career.”
The National Conference on Youth Ministry occurs yearly in the beginning part of January.
Next year it will take place in Daytona Beach, Florida on Jan. 6-9.