I answered God’s call on my life to vocational ministry when I was 18 years old. I was so certain of what God wanted me to do that I immediately went to Bible college and started serving anywhere a door was open. I went to Bible college to pursue training in Biblical Studies and Youth Ministry. At the time, I never thought I would be a lead pastor. The Lord opened the door for me to serve as a Youth Pastor and later on as a Lead Pastor. Throughout these 18 plus years of full-time ministry I have always been involved in youth ministry one way or another. There is a movement today amongst some Christian circles that there is no need for churches to have a youth pastor. As a matter of fact, good youth pastors are few and far between today. It is very difficult to find someone who is called to that specific area of ministry. There are many factors as to why the traditional youth pastor is becoming a thing of the past, however, addressing that issue is not the purpose of this article.
The purpose of this article is to stress the importance of the youth pastor and the need for churches to have a youth pastor. I firmly believe that the role of the youth pastor is of vital importance in the life of the church. Youth ministry in the local church as a vocation is much needed and is a viable part of vocational ministry. I highly encourage any young men who are called to vocational ministry to not count out the possibility of serving as a youth pastor. Here is why I believe every church (if at all possible) should have a youth pastor/minister of students:
- Children and Youth need a godly role model. Children and youth need someone they can look up to. Wouldn’t it be great instead of hearing young people say, ‘I want to be like _______ (celebrity name)’ to hear them say, ‘I want to be like my youth pastor.’
- A good Youth Pastor can supplement parents teaching. For children and youth who have godly parents who are bringing them up in the admonition of the Lord, it is good to have someone who will have the parents back. A good youth pastor can take those young people who come from strong Christian homes and help them to understand how blessed they are and how they should respect and honor their parents. A good youth pastor can be a parent’s best friend.
- A good Youth Pastor can stand in the GAP for young people from broken homes. Some say that a youth pastor is not that great of a thing because after all, it’s the parents job to teach their children. However, most children do not come from solid Christian homes. The majority of young people today come from homes where the Bible is not taught and practiced. A good youth pastor can be that good father-figure that many young people need.
- A good Youth Pastor provides a special kind of friendship. There is something special about the relationship between a child or teen and the youth pastor. There are things you can do and say with your youth pastor that you cannot with the lead pastor or other people in the church. A youth pastor gives children and youth the opportunity to be themselves around an adult, who though mature, is also one of them.
- A Youth Pastor is different than the ‘regular’ Pastor. I have been in situations where I am both the lead pastor and the youth pastor. Sure, a lead pastor can do youth ministry. However, it’s not the same as having a good youth pastor. As much as I love the young people of every church I have served in, as the lead pastor, there is always somewhat of a disconnect. It is difficult for the young people to open up to the guy they hear in the pulpit every Sunday (not to mention it can become rather dull to have the same guy teaching youth group also preaching every Sunday). The bottom line is, there are things the youth pastor can do to minister to the young people of the church, that the lead pastor just simply cannot do. (this is one of those things that only those in ministry can fully understand)
- A good Youth Pastor helps the church to grow. A church with a strong quality youth ministry is certainly a draw for young families. A strong youth ministry helps to build mature disciples of Jesus who will not leave the church when they become adults. A good youth pastor will go a long way in closing the revolving back-door of the church.
- A good Youth Pastor brings life to the church. When you have an energetic (notice I didn’t say young, a youth pastor does not have to be ‘young’) youth pastor that loves life and knows how to have fun and make people smile, it brings an element of life to the church. There are often times when there is an expectation that the lead pastor is to be the serious guy. However, the youth pastor has much more freedom to be that wild and crazy dude that brings life and energy to the church.
- Being a part of a group means something. Children and youth need to know that they belong. They need to feel that there is a place for them in the church. They need to feel like they are really a part of something greater than themselves. A good youth ministry provides just that. It gives them an opportunity to connect with their peers to grow in their faith and to learn how to be on mission for Jesus.
- A good Youth Pastor is invaluable to a Lead Pastor. It is the dream of every pastor to have a right-hand man that they can count on. A good youth pastor can provide support for the lead pastor in amazing ways. He can lift the pastor’s burdens. He can give assurance that godly young people are being developed and the future is bright
As you may have noticed, I mentioned over and over again ‘a good youth pastor’. There are some out there that may not be good. A good youth pastor is one who is doctrinally sound, spiritually mature, and has a love for God and for people. A good youth pastor is one you can trust to raise up a godly generation that is on fire for Jesus.
I am sure there are many more reasons as to why every church needs a good youth pastor. Are there any you can add to this list? If you grew up in church, what was your experience with youth ministry and a youth pastor? I welcome your comments.