Over the past three weeks, we have been looking at a question on our podcast, “What are people looking for in a youth pastor?” We have approached it from the viewpoint of a volunteer in the ministry, a parent of a student and the lead pastor. While every church is going to be slightly different, there are some common themes found in the expectations of these three groups, no matter the size of the church:
• A youth pastor should love God. How do we deepen our love for God? We dive into the Word and prayer. There are other ways we express love to the Father, but a youth pastor that is not willing to spend time in the Word is not ready to lead others. We share from the overflow. It is this discipline that will shape how we talk about God and serve Him.
• A youth pastor should love students. In general, God calls us to love people. We find it in the second half of the Great Commandment found in Matt. 22:36-40. However, the youth pastor must have a heart for students. He needs to love their goofiness, their enthusiasm and even the mistakes they may make along the way. It isn’t for everyone.
• A youth pastor should be a team player. Linking arms with the other staff members and parents is key to being a good youth pastor. It isn’t your show. The youth ministry is simply one arm of the ministry of the church. If you think you can do it all on your own, you are wrong. God calls us to community and to work with others to accomplish His will in this world. A good youth pastor will partner with the parents of his students and the other members of the pastoral team. There should be no “lone rangers” in ministry.
• A youth pastor should be growing. Like others in ministry, it is important for those that work with students to be growing. First, they need to grow in the Word. As I mentioned before, it is vital to spend time with God through the Word and prayer. Second, they should be growing in knowledge through reading and possibly considering higher education. Those of us serving students should be some of the most educated and prepared. Our students need us to be ready with an answer to the many questions they are facing. That is not an easy task because the questions aren’t getting any easier. Youth pastors need to be growing.
I am sure there are other characteristics that might be important to you, but I believe these four cover a number of areas and should be on our list of expectations as we consider who is serving with our students. If you work with students, you may need to spend some time in self-evaluation and invest in some of these areas. Taking the time to do so will not only strengthen your ministry but also allow you to serve longer.
Be sure to check out episodes 114, 115 and 116 of the Student Ministry Matters podcast as we talk with Amanda Bowman, Lori Cline and Wade Allen. You can find the podcast at studentministrymatters.podbean.com or through most major podcasting apps.