How to Keep a Youth Guy: Ten Ways My Church Encourages Me to Stick Around (by John Elkins)

John Elkins is the Student Pastor at First Baptist Church of Brazoria, TX

The current reality of tenure in youth ministry is atrocious.  I’ve see youth guys come and go at a rapid rate since I started in the ministry and have mourned the losses to my fellow churches.  I have been at my church for almost 8 years now as the Student Pastor (official title).  I serve at First Baptist Church in a small town south of Houston Texas.  Last weekend I was privileged to stay with some great friends and through the course of our conversation it came to light that their church has not been able to keep a youth pastor for more than 2 years.  They asked me why?  Why is it that Youth Pastors leave so soon?  What can they do to help them stay?  How do we change the paradigm when the average tenure for a youth pastor is 17 months and 3 years for a senior pastor?  (I know, you’ll find different numbers everywhere.)

Well, my church is awesome!  So I thought I’d share with you 10 things they do that encourage me to stay.  They are not in any particular order.

  1.        Treat the youth pastor the same as all the other pastors.  When my church looks at me, they see a pastor (or at least that’s what they communicate in their discussions with me).  I am asked about theological issues and Biblical issues by youth and adults.  I am asked how I would structure things and my input is valued as a premium.  Church members listen when I give instruction and I don’t have to fight for authority.  When I speak, the members grant me the same respect and gravity that they would my fellow pastors.  So respect your youth pastor, he’ll stay longer.
  2.        Make sure your staff gets along.  As a congregation you can give them opportunity to get away together.  This will breed fellowship among the leaders that is invaluable.  Nothing will kill a youth pastor quicker than an unbalanced and contentious staff relationship.  If your senior pastor micro-manages your youth pastor, he will leave.  If your staff treats the youth pastor like he is second fiddle or a child and refuses to take what he is saying seriously, he will leave.  Now, to be clear, there are youth guys who fit the stereotype mold and they might need to be kicked a little by their other pastors.  But, most of us are hard-working, have some semblance of what makes a good leader, and we do what needs to be done.  My church provides time for the staff to get away and enjoy each other and we are very connected as a result.  I frequently feel as though I am serving with brothers who are laboring along-side me.  I am never second fiddle and they include me in decisions.  I am not treated as a child, but as a brother.  We are colleagues and friends, and that’s what most youth pastors want and need in a staff.
  3.        Help without being asked.  Assume he needs you to do what you notice needs to be done and then go let him know you want to do it and do it without needing him.  This doesn’t happen all the time, but my church is great about helping when it looks like I need help.  One of my favorite memories was when some adults came to me and said, “we love your emphasis on teaching our students, we see this need, we’re going to do it for you.”  That was an incredible blessing.  Take note of what your Student Pastor does well and fill in the gaps without being asked.  If we don’t want you to, we’ll tell you.  While this is awkward it is far better than standing back and being upset at him for not asking for help.  By nature Youth pastors tend to think that they are supposed to do EVERYTHING.  When you come along-side them and just start doing the work, it frees them up to focus on what is important.  My church is awesome at this!
  4.        Pay him the same scale that you pay the other ministers.  A horrific reality of youth ministry is the pay scale.  I know of Pastors who make well over $100,000 serving with youth pastors who make less than $30,000 with no benefits!   This is an atrocious wrong.  My church pays me well and the rest of our staff is paid well too.  Pay your youth guy equitably and you’ll see marked improvement in his attitude toward the position.  I know a youth guy that makes $25,000 a year and is expected to work 60 hours a week (we counted them) under the supervision of a pastor who makes $75,000 a year, has less education, less experience in ministry, works a flat 40 hours a week, and has all benefits paid.  Needless to say, I have his resume if any of you are looking for a hard working youth guy.
  5.        Don’t ask your youth pastor when he is going to get a real pastor job.  You may mean well, implying that he is a great leader or preacher and you think he should take a greater leadership position.  But your complement comes with a devaluing of the position he is already in.  We are pastors already.  Value the position he is in as well as the job he does in it.  Treat the position as a permanent one and do not assume a corporate ladder mentality.  Most of us are not seeking to climb the invisible ladder of supposed success.  Most of us are just happy to work in a church and genuinely feel as though God wants us where we are.  So remember, he is called youth “pastor” because he is already a pastor.  Complement his preaching or leadership, ask him about his future, but be careful not to assume he is only there to step his way up.
  6.        Have his family to your home for dinner and/or go to his house.  Relationships are incredibly valuable for youth guys.  We don’t have many deep relationships because our career is built around relationships with 12-18 year-olds.  Believe it or not, hanging out with a bunch of 16 year-olds on your free nights is not as fun as it sounds.  The only adult fellowship most Youth Guys get is the staff at the church.  Student pastors need adult fellowship beyond the staff.  You can accommodate this need by providing a small group opportunity for him and his family or you can just be intentional and eat with the guy.  Invest your time in your youth pastor as a friend and he will be much more likely to rethink leaving.  Another positive to this is that he will take your advice more readily.  We are much more likely to listen to people who know us and who we know well.  So, love your youth guy and he’ll stay longer.  There is a particular man at my church who took me aside when I got here and said, “what do you need in ministry.”  I told him I needed a friend.  It is partly because of him I have turned down some positions, so that I could maintain that friendship.
  7.        Submit to his leadership in public and discuss disagreements with a humble heart in private.  By nature of the position, youth ministry is filed with leaders who are self-conscious about their abilities to lead and insecure about their authority.  We are very aware of the criticism of others and are extremely sensitive to disrespect for our position.  If you have a disagreement with your youth pastor, model humility for him.  He needs to learn humility, model it by submitting yourself to his leadership, even if it seems unnecessary to do so.  In doing this you will show him what humble leadership is, and will encourage him to learn well how to lead well.  He will stay longer.  My experience at FBC has been loaded with people who will submit to my decisions even if they think I am wrong.  They will respect my position and give me latitude to make mistakes.  As a result, I am still here.
  8.        Forgive his mistakes; he will make a lot of them… especially if he is good at his job.  Let me explain.  If you’re a youth pastor who loves students, you’re going to take some risks.  You’re going to over-plan, under-budget, and offend EVERYONE in the process.  (if you’re a youth guy reading this and you haven’t offended someone yet, you must be young or dense.) But these mistakes are done out of love for the students and a deep desire for Jesus’ name to be made great.  He is not intentionally offending anyone, unless he has stated that offense is his objective (lol, sometimes it’s necessary.) So, he is going to make mistakes.  He is going to be obnoxious.  And he is going to fail you.  He needs to know, failure is ok.  He needs to have the freedom to do so.  Let him run with abandon after a new idea and let it blow up in his face!  Let him fail and you will have a much stronger youth guy in the position.  He needs the freedom to exercise his creativity and the tenderness to be taught when he fails.
  9.        Don’t give him pointless tasks that are unrelated to his passions and/or job.  I remember my first weeks at FBC.  I was incredibly nervous I was going to upset my senior pastor because I was unaware of some unknown task I needed to do.  I was sure that I was going to be asked to set up tables, organize a party, fix some problem.  I was very concerned and was even getting jittery about it.  I walked into my senior pastor’s office and asked “Jim, what is it you want me to do!?”  Jim Doyle sat back in his chair and said, “Teach our students the Bible and run a comprehensive youth program.”  In a rather irritated tone I asked, “when are you going to ask me to set up chairs, or plan a party!?”  Jim smirked, “I’m not… I want you to teach the Bible and run a comprehensive youth program.”  After clarifying my job description, I left his office before any tasks could be added.  It was then I realized how much FBC values this position.  I’m not asked to do menial tasks.  FBC asks me to do things that are related to my job and I’m not asked to do things that are inconsequential.  Often I am told that I don’t need to do certain things because they would take time away from the teaching of the Word or the Students.  Find your youth pastor’s passion and assign him any extra tasks that may relate to that passion, otherwise, let him work without any additional weight.
  10.    Overlook offenses.  Youth pastors can be extremely busy dealing with students and are incredibly emotionally involved with their students.  Further, good youth pastors are much more concerned with your holiness than your happiness.  As a result, we will often offend and sometimes forget that we need to shepherd adults as well.  We may be inconsiderate, callous, or just plain unaware of and toward offenses.  Forgive them without having to be asked.  Model humility and mutual submission by forgiving and forgetting offense without having to bring it up.  He will feel the love from you and you just might be what keeps him there.  I cannot tell you how many times I have been forgiven offense without having to be asked.  It is probably why I am still here.

So, I hope that helps…  If you’re a youth pastor, what are some things that your church does to encourage you to stay?

Comments

  1. says

    Point 5 I think its on a major issue in the ministry. Far too many churches AND minsters view “Youth Ministry” as a stepping stone before moving on into a Senior Pastor’s position. I have been asked by people in and out of the SBC, why don’t I go be a youth pastor? The simple and clear answer is I am not called into it. Youth ministry, just like Music Ministry, or indeed being a pastor in general is something one is called into. If you are not called, you should not be trying to do it. For those called into that ministry, there is nothing wrong with being a youth pastor well into your 40’s and 50’s. Our churches and young men would do well to treat Youth Ministry as the complex and “separate” ministry that it is, and not just the “stepping stone” for experience.

    Great post beyond this point too.

  2. John Wylie says

    I guess I will have to be the proverbial fly in the ointment, but if our youth pastor had done what you did in #9, we would have had a head butting match. I wouldn’t serve with a youth man who had a problem setting up chairs or doing things outside his job description. As a matter of fact, our youth pastor’s job description is the same as mine, whatever it takes to get the job done. If I’m not above setting up chairs, then he shouldn’t be.

    • says

      I think there is a difference between staff members chipping in when something needs to be done, and one particular position being treated as the “go to person” to do all the stuff that “others” are “too busy” to do. Now maybe that is not what the author is talking about, but I suspect it is. It goes back to the larger problem that a majority of churches view the Youth Pastor as a position it is not “real” ministry; that is all fun and games; and that the youth pastor has “a lot” of free time meaning when there are chairs that need to be set up, he automatically is the one who gets that assignment. Again because he “obviously” does not work as hard as the other staff members. That is the problem and THAT is what I think is being talked about here.

      • John Wylie says

        SVMuschany,

        I can certainly see where that may be a problem in some churches, but if you go back and read #9 it appears that the author of this blog had a problem with being asked to chip in on these “menial” tasks. I personally think that every staff member, including the senior pastor, is not above performing “menial” tasks. I’ve been in my church for more than 14 years and I have cleaned toilets, made tea and coffee, carried out the trash, drove the bus and a whole lot of other things and my church respects me for it.

        • says

          Again that is not how I am reading his post, especially given the tone of the whole. I continue to see his words as a reaction against something like, “Well we don’t have enough money for a custodian, so cleaning the church will be the Youth Pastor’s responsibility.” That attitude, that I hope is indeed few and far between in our churches, is 100% wrong. If, and I stress IF, you are right in that the author was saying he NEVER will set up chairs no matter the circumstances, yes that is wrong. But, I don’t believe that is what he was implying.

          As it happens, at my church, when we need to clear the auditorium of its chairs to set up tables for a dinner or something, usually after service, a large number of members (and the staff) all “chip in” and we get the task done in less 10 minutes. It’s great when everyone works together. But if the church said, that on Monday, the youth pastor, because he doesn’t have a “real” ministry job, will move the chairs/tables/ect because the Senior Pastor and Music Minister are doing “real work”, THAT is wrong. Again, THAT is what I am seeing the author say.

          • John Wylie says

            It might not be how you are reading it, but it is what he said. What the author said was that he only wanted to do things that he considers “related” to his youth ministry and he did not want to do anything “menial” or “inconsequential” to his job. I think his attitude is all wrong.

    • says

      Thanks for the comments John… There is a slight miss-read here. I wasn’t at all implying that I am or ever have been “above” these activities. In fact, the story I cited was an illustration of my fears that I was not aware of expectations that were unspoken. Not that I was unwilling to do them. My pastor was a very gracious and wise man to talk me through it as I am sure you would be as well. But, make no mistake I roll up my sleeves and move stages or wash floors when necessary.
      Rather, what I was trying to intimate is that when the youth minister is treated in-equitably to the rest of the staff and regarded as a man who is there to simply take care of parties and set up for events, then they are likely to leave. I’d also like to stress, if you’ll note… my church has never treated me this way. Hope that helps to clairify. Thanks again for the comments.

      • John Wylie says

        I’m sorry if I misunderstood your post, John, but your statements in #9 certainly came across as though you had a problem with being asked to perform those tasks. I just have the attitude that we all should forget about precise job descriptions and simply do whatever it takes to get the job done. When our youth pastor needs me to drive a bus I jump right in and I expect that attitude to be reciprocated. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

        • says

          No sweat, I went and re-read it and I can see how you came away with that intonation. Though it was not my intent, I think the error was probably on my end. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. says

    John
    you express some good points and valid frustrations within the ministry, many of which should be taken into consideration. however, much of what is expected from me and my youth pastor have nothing to do with being church “staff” as much as they do being “church members.” in my estimation, under Biblical instruction we are to be “ensamples to the flock”. i remind our people all the time that not only am i a pastor, i am also a Christian, and a church member, and no task is too menial. when it comes to the the “tasks of” the church, anything i expect from a church member they have a right to expect of me.

    i do understand your frustration that youth men are not often being appreciated enough and i know that it happens, i’ve seen it too. i’ve also seen it go both ways.
    i’ve never had a church that didn’t go overboard in their efforts to show their appreciation. what i have found is that when the Lord’s people feel ministered to, they reciprocate appreciation. students know who real teachers are, listeners can tell you who has the gift of singing, congregations know who actually feeds them, and people know when they’ve been ministered to.
    i’m not saying that it is always our fault when we are unappreciated, because it is not. some churches are full of empty people, regardless of how much sure ministry goes on. at the same time, it is not always the churches fault either.

    either way your article has good thought provoking points . . .

    • says

      Jeff, thanks for the comments.
      I appreciate your point and agree whole-heartedly. I did just want to state though, it’s not my intention to express frustrations but to share how churches can encourage their youth guys to stay. My church has been a tremendous encouragement in these 10 areas and I have loved the ministry here. Thanks again.

  4. Steven Patrick Morrissey says

    You make some really good points. One point to consider, from one “youth guy” to another:

    You say that a youth guy is “going to be obnoxious.” But earlier, you advocate that youth pastors should be granted the “same respect and gravity that they would . . . fellow pastors.” Here is the rub, in my opinion. Youth pastors often exude an aura of delayed adolescence. They dress/act/behave like the JR/HS/College students in the group. This raises questions among other adult congregants. Is this really how they are? Is this a shtick? “Becoming all things “. . .? Whatever the reasons, it can have the effect of diminished respect for the simple reason that you tend to treat people commensurately to how they act in terms of authority, respect, etc.
    So in conclusion, I would suggest that any youth guy reading this who feels he is not getting sufficient respect from his pastoral staff/congregation ask himself if his demeanor warrants the respect he seeks.

    Moz

    • says

      Well put, thanks for the comment! A great book to read to help conform our hearts to this truth is “touching Godliness through submission.” By K.P. Yohannon. Good point!

  5. says

    I can understand both arguments to point number 9. If “pointless” tasks are reserved for the youth pastor that is wrong, However if those tasks are shared with the entire staff, the situation changes.

    My bigger issue however is , Who is going to do “menial tasks”. Someone has to arrange the chairs. The implication seems to be this is a “laymen’s” job. Therein is my problem: for me that is too much division between clergy and laity. It makes the ministry too much of a profession when in reality it is a calling to service.

    If the senior pastor treats the youth pastor with respect and dignity both privately and publicly, the congregation will follow suit.

    • Greg Buchanan says

      DL,

      I understand what you are saying about he disparity, but I think the idea that it should/could be a laymen’s job is biblical: Acts 6. The Apostles were called to the ministry of the Word and Prayer, not to wait on tables. That doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t do so, but I think it is a fair expectation of a congregation. Preach it, encourage it, ask for it, praise it when it’s done that there is nothing too small that is service. It might encourage more participation than the oft quoted 20%.

      I understand your apprehension at the division, but I think that is needed to some extent in that we are called to “prepare the saints for ministry” not do all the menial tasks for them. If we don’t provide even small things for people to do, and expect them to do, such as setting up chairs, how difficult will it be when we ask for a “church clean up day” or “church grounds-keeping day” or even “mission outreach to the soup kitchen day.”

      This shouldn’t be used to beat a church into doing “menial” tasks, but it should be used to teach that “church” is an everyday thing that needs participation everyday by everyone. The pastor(s) shouldn’t shy away from it nor should it be demanded of the congregation, but I think it is fair to say it should be a holy expectation.

      The congregation isn’t set apart ONLY for Sunday morning or Wed night activities or the Thurs praise team practice or the Men’s/Women’s breakfast one Saturday a month; we are set apart for every day. Someone can and should (in submission to Jesus, not the pastor) find a time to minister at the church in big and small ways such as setting up chairs just as they should find time to minister outside the church in big and small ways.

      • says

        Greg

        Valid points, I don’t disagree. You have shown a great wisdom and a good grasp of scripture. I just get a little concerned with the divide between clergy and laityI remember the days gone past that my Dad would not be allowed to do some thing in the ministry of the church because he was a layman. In the church in which I grew up (SBC) he could preach on laymen’s day, but not any other sunday…a “testimony” yes but “preach” no.
        To be sure those days are gone, but I guess I still react somewhat.

        Again you make good points

        • Greg Buchanan says

          DL,

          I agree with you. I was in a church not to long ago that is still the same way you describe: the pulpit on Sunday morning is for ordained Baptist ministers only… it’s almost Landmarkist, though they’d never admit it :)

          I don’t want that to continue either. I honestly wouldn’t mind setting up chairs once in a while (which i do anyway, but for the sake of argument) because God had given a message to one of my youth to share rather than me: what a blessing to see Him moving in their lives.

          I appreciate your comments and observations DL and you are right: there should be no job that a pastor of any stripe is above doing. If Jesus is washing feet, then what can I honestly refuse to do as being “not my job” as a pastor.

          • says

            As one who generally agrees with Landmark principles, it really isn’t a pejorative. Contrary to popular opinion Landmarkism isn’t considered theological fringe by everyone who holds to Baptist doctrine. Something to consider.

          • John Wylie says

            Jeff,

            With all due respect brother, Landmarkism in my estimation is very closer to heresy. It’s views about the Bride of Christ, Baptism and the nature of the Church are terribly dangerous.

          • says

            Greg

            I was thinking about this over lunch. This question occurred to me: In the Lord’s church is there such a thing as a “menial” task? Don’t know, just asking…

          • Greg Buchanan says

            D.L.

            If it is done “as unto the Lord” I don’t think there is such a thing as a “menial” task. Great thought!

  6. Adam G. in NC says

    Like SVMuschany’s experience, in my area, the Youth Minister is largely considered a “stepping stone” to the rank of full-bird Pastor.
    However, this could be relative to the small size of churches (usually under 200) and the proximity to SEBTS (from whose students Youth Ministers are likely called).

    • says

      I served at a church in that area for two years… You are right, it is often looked at as a stepping stone in that area and it is tragic. Thanks for the comments.

      • John Wylie says

        I think that is true everywhere. Almost every pastor I know was a youth pastor at some point in their early ministry, I was.

      • Greg Buchanan says

        I can attest to that observation out here in AZ as well. Many have done youth prior to becoming a full-partner… er full-pastor and there is a disparity in view of them both.

        The Pastor or Senior Pastor or Lead Pastor or Chief Under-Shepherd is seen (by the titles) as one who has “made it” or “arrived” where as a Youth Minister or Associate Pastor for Youth is almost there, but not quite. Many view the youth ministry (intentionally or unintentionally) as ETC for teenagers or, at worse, a glorified spiritual life monitor: just try to keep them from cutting up in church and pray they make it through HS without a major screw-up.

        I think some of this comes from the SBC method of leadership development: grow up in church, “feel” a call to ministry, go to seminary. Very little leadership development or discipleship at the church because, well, seminary is supposed to prepare folks for being pastors.

      • Tarheel says

        It’s looked at as stepping stones because many a man called to be a senior pastor used it as such.

        Let’s be honest…how many seminary and bible college students have said as much.

        “I’ll take an assoc. pastor position so I can ________________________ until I’m ready or a church hires me as a senior pastor.”

        Church people view it that way because they have been conditioned to view it that way….by experience.

        • Tarheel says

          It cuts both ways….churches shouldn’t view assoc. pastors as second class pastors….and pastors shouldn’t view assoc pastor positions as stepping stones to lead pastor positions.

          I think we know both Views are reality and feed each other.

        • Adam Blosser says

          Is it not possible that a person could feel truly called of God to serve as youth pastor in a particular church knowing that he also does not feel called to remain in that position forever?

          I agree wholeheartedly that the youth pastor position should not be viewed as a stepping stone. We should all be faithful to the ministry that God has called us to at that time. With that being said, the ministry that we feel called to does sometimes change over time.

          It is wrong to treat an associate pastor as second class. He should not be constantly asked when he plans to become a “real” pastor. At the same time, it should not be assumed that someone who served as a youth pastor for a few years before stepping into a senior pastor position did so for ungodly reasons.

          • Tarheel says

            Absolutely, Adam.

            Sure over time calling may change.

            I am simply saying that to enter a position with the intent of ‘moving up’ is a stepping stone mentality and is wrong, IMO.

            I am saying that if one takes an associate pastor position knowing full well that they plan to move to a senior pastor position later….perhaps they should consider not taking a position to have a position and wait until the God provides the path to the calling that he has provided.

            I think that perhaps we have bought into the ideas of the world…that “it is easier to get a job when you have one” or “take a lesser job than you want to gain experience so you are ready for the real thing when it comes along.”

            I am coming at this from a position that all pastors are “equal in calling” yet vary in roles….I guess that comes from my valuing a plurality of elders/pastors model.

            Anyway, if that is what I believe than the idea of taking a position that is lesser to prepare for the ‘better’ strikes a uncomfortable chord with me.

            Of course I am not downing internships or mentor-ships…they are important and necessary…but if one is certain he is called to be a lead pastor then I am not sure he should take on an actual associate pastor role ‘while waiting’.

            Of course this is just my opinion.

  7. Sam Downey says

    Although I was never called to be a Youth Pastor, I spent a few months as a Children’s Pastor in conjunction with a bus ministry. I was once a young pastor, now I am old. The comments about #9 have moved me to comment about the “lost art” of ministry in general as I see it from afar:
    “But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45 KJV)
    This has always been a reminder to me, whenever I thought my position precluded my involvement in what might be called unimportant or menial tasks. I am making no reference to anyone involved in this discussion, but I am judging the necessity of repentance in my own life on many occasions, lest I regard the ministry as a hierarchy in which I am entitled to a certain position. “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” (Psalm 84:10 KJV)

  8. says

    I’ve been very blessed at the church where I serve. I’m their first full-time youth pastor with educational responsibilities – starting at the age of 41. I followed a youth pastor who did move on to a senior pastor role. For myself, I’ve never sought to use youth ministry as a stepping stone to another position. Matter of fact, I relish the idea of being in my 60’s plus and still being involved in youth ministry – as a youth pastor or avid volunteer. Maybe part of that desire was developed growing up as a PK. Over the years, I’ve developed talents/abilities that I’ve used to assist in enhancing other ministry areas – without being asked, but rather seeing it as a good steward of those talents.

    On your list, #3 is probably the one I would most relate to. Early in my ministry (in other churches I’ve served in, too), it has always been difficult to “recruit” volunteers to be teachers, small group leaders, and other roles within my youth ministry. At the current church after four years of investments and prayers, God is blessing with a few more adult volunteers. We are also making it a point to involve our seniors in leadership development and encouraging them to take roles after being out of the youth group for at least two years. Still, our needs are many, but the heart of our volunteers are big. Over the past several years, my volunteers have developed the willingness to remind me of their availability and willingness to help. Most times they will dive right in and at other times they will approach me in private. I cherish the times the help keep me balanced in the “work” of ministry.

    I’ve tried the dress thing to an extent, but it’s not me. I have my holey jeans that I wear on occasion, but I’ve given up trying to be the young youth pastor. Now I’m settling into being the “old” youth pastor – and I’m enjoying that. I think our students need to have seasoned youth pastors involved in their lives, too. I’d like to see more of us. The “youth” in youth ministry does not reflect the age of the minister, just the age of those being ministered too – and that can be anybody of any age.

    The senior pastor is marking his 21st year of service here. Together with the help and support of the Elders, the mutual respect and communications (and relationships) have never been better at any other church I’ve serve at. This has been one of the key factors in my stay. The other has been the investment of the parents leading up to my start through prayer. They were looking for someone to truly be a pastor to their kids. I allow myself to have my adolescent moments with the kids and leaders and they enjoy that – it throws them off sometimes, but helps to know that I can be just as silly as they are even in my 40’s. But I am also not afraid to very honest and frank. I try my hardest to balance the kid inside me with the heart for their souls.

    Well, I believe that’s all. Maybe this should have been a blog of it’s own – lol.

    • says

      As one who has been youth, associate, and senior pastor, i never thought of such as “stepping stones” as much as “training ground.” I was called to serve the Lord, and knew that my calling was to preach and eventually pastor. i also viewed each “calling” as a place to serve and an opportunity to learn. i am thankful that i had the privilege to serve under “seasoned” leadership as i have followed the Lord through the calls that He has placed in my life. at 42 i have learned to “abide in the calling where i am called,” and love it. if it is my final call praise the Lord, if he has other calls for me then i’ll follow Him when He makes that clear. my home is where He is, and my service is where He says.
      as far as “stepping stones” go, i think the greater danger is not necessarily in men who view positions, (youth, associate, etc) as stepping stones, (though that’s not correct) but who view churches, (small, a little bigger, a little bigger, a little bigger) as places of advancement. in my estimation that attitude is an abuse of the ministry, and the “calling” has become nothing more than a career.

  9. says

    The secret to a healthy church in the future is to focus on the spiritual development of children today. A wise investment for most churches is in retaining a good youth pastor with decent pay and supporting his ministry with plenty of volunteer time. While he may not be the primary preaching pastor of the church, he is speaking life into your youth. As such he has a greater challenge than the senior pastor in one significant respect: He needs to be a mature Christian and still be able to identify with the youth. Afford him a ton of respect for that and give him all the help you can.

    …and do everything you can to keep the curmudgeons off his back. One church in our area had been running ministers down to the point where they could barely afford the pastor. So the youth ministry was open for whomever would volunteer for it. At one point, over some non-issue that conflicted with the personal goals of the “chief curmudgeon in charge”, the last remaining volunteer was told that if she didn’t like it, she could leave. So she did. The church is all but dead now having been one of the fixtures in town. With conflicts between older Christians and youth over the silliest things, biblical manifestations of longsuffering and grace need to be explicitly taught, and those who refuse to practice them need to be headed off at the pass.

  10. Stuart says

    I concur with the sentiments that youth ministry shouldn’t be viewed as a “stepping stone” by either the youth minister or the congregation. “Stepping stone” terminology implies motive. Still, the call of God should be allowed to be just as dynamic in the lives of youth ministers as it is pastors.

    Presumably, most pastor’s “felt called” to serve at the church they were serving before they “felt called” to go pastor a different church, to start a church in the next suburb over, or to the mission field. The same privilege should be extended to youth ministers who “felt called” to move from youth ministry into the pastorate.

    • Tarheel says

      agreed, and I did not mean to imply otherwise.

      I only meant to address those pastors who intentionally and knowingly use an associate pastor position as a stepping stone.

      For that matter pastors do it with churches….”I’ll just go there until I finish my degree and go someplace else” – or “I will just stay here until I finish my degrees and can be a professor in a seminary like I really want”

      My point is that it is not only congregants who view and use associate pastor positions as stepping stones….as I indicated above – perhaps one reason congregants view it that way is because they have seen it happen so often?