A Different Approach
Youth ministry has always been an intriguing career. There seem to be so many different parts to it, but then is the main focus on the youth. So, aside from the normal office and minister work in the church, there is the planning of all the different trips, volunteer work, and even regular bible studies. But, the most important aspect is simply spending time with the youth: teaching the bible studies, going on the retreats, helping with the community service, even just getting coffee with them-in short, making a connection with them. And this connection seems rather inexplicable. Something between the minister and the youth just seems to “click.” The most intriguing thing is that the youth minister is not necessarily trained or taught this, they just seem to have a natural ability to bond with the kids.
Jad Taylor is a youth minister in Clemson, South Carolina. He works at Clemson United Methodist Church (CUMC), where he interacts with kids ranging from starting middle school to high school seniors. He is a youth minister now, but he did not start exactly where one might expect. He got a degree in Engineering from Clemson in 2008, which pretty much seems like the polar opposite of youth ministry, right? Not long after that he quickly changed paths, as he was hired by CUMC to take on the role of their youth minister.
From there, Jad went on to study youth ministry at Duke Divinity School, while keeping his job at CUMC. He graduated in 2013 and then continued working with youth at CUMC, now with more formal training. The interesting thing, however, is that he became a youth minister and then chose to go to seminary, instead of becoming ordained and then becoming a youth minister.
Since then, Jad has worked and interacted with youth for four years, and he is always able to befriend anyone, as he often spends time with those outside of his youth group. Anyone is always welcome at almost every youth event he hosts, and this often leads to a large number of kids showing up to many of the activities. Because of this, Jad ends up being friends with practically everyone.
Jad is rarely alone, especially during youth events, and often is overcrowded by multiple youth wanting to talk to him or tell him something all at the same time.
However, Jad will just as often try to make time for the individual kids who want to talk to him, whether it is simply about their day at school or they want to focus on more deep aspects of their life. This helps Jad get to know all of his youth, and other youth in the area, pretty well.
During church services on both Sundays and Wednesdays, Jad often helps to lead the entire church in worship, both preaching and guiding in song.
Another major part of Jad’s job as a youth minister is his planning and leading youth trips. These range from mission trips to the Caribbean to retreats for the seniors to his parents lake house. He always keeps a strong focus on the youth and their experience, even making the motto for a recent retreat “FTK”- For the Kids.
Recently Jad has decided to return to seminary, meaning that after almost ten years, he will be leaving CUMC. While all of his youth are excited for him, they are also saddened to see him go because of just how significant an impact he has made on them.
However, Jad definitely plans to continue his work as youth minister beyond his second time at seminary, having said before “I don’t know why everyone in the world doesn’t want to be a youth minister.”
Although planning to begin seminary in the fall, Jad still spends a huge amount of time with his youth. And just as often as worshiping he takes time to hang out and have fun with them, strengthening the bond he already has with them.
All photos, including the featured image, were taken by me.