before we can address the world of the youth pastor, we 1st have to address the world of the sr. pastor. Otherwise, what you’ll advocating for youth pastors will never happen.
Youth pastors should only work for spiritual fathers
I got an email from a guy who is going to write an article about how training for short-term missions is inadequate. I replied,”The problem is not that youth leaders don’t have access to training, but that they don’t value it, have time for it, or have pastoral support for it.”
He wrote back: “How do we break the cycle as it applies to youth ministry?”
Well, that question opens a can of worms. Let’s see, I guess we need to fix the whole broken model of youth ministry for starters. I threw it out to Michael Hindes and he said you should begin with the the relationship between the youth pastor and the pastor.
Specifically, youth pastors shouldn’t take assignments from people who are not spiritual fathers. If pastors would commit to discipling youth pastors, then all kinds of problems would go away. If you’re a youth pastor candidate, Hindes (who has been a senior pastor), recommends saying the following to the pastor when he interviews you:
- I need access to you for a couple of hours twice a month outside staff meetings.
- I need to be able to ask you the bigger questions about life and ministry without you being nervous, because one day I want to be a senior pastor too. Also, I want a safe place to process issues from life and marriage and know that your confidential.
- Don’t delegate me out to the executive pastor, I didn’t buy into his vision, I bought into yours.
- I want to know the four things every employee wants to know: where are we headed, what role do I play, how am I going to be evaluated and how am I doing right now.
- I want consistent feedback, I don’t want you to garbage collect. I want to become a man of God like you.
- Here are some things I didn’t get in seminary that I may need from you: how do I balance my checkbook and budget? How do I disciple others? How do I do a hospital visit? Would you go on a few with visits with me. Would you help me do a few counseling sessions. And, from your personal experience, teach me about love languages for my wife and I.
- Will you back me publicly even when I mess up? I will welcome private rebukes.
Good stuff … I wonder how many senior pastors would actually do that – or even see that as a chief role to fulfill? All ministries would be so much more effective if everyone involved had someone to disciple us and a couple/group we were discipling too … hmm, guess that Jesus guy knew what He was doing…
Thanks Seth and also for the input from Michael.
A “little secret” from my past is that for 19 months I was a “youth pastor”. It was Tabernacle Church in Norfolk, VA.
It was a great experience and almost killed me because the term “pastor” was really a bucket for whatever anyone needed.
I counseled kids. Coached parents off the cliff. Encouraged. Preached. Went to the hospital. Mopped floors. You name it. 🙂
Things have changed since then.
At least I hope so.
Missions then was an after thought.
I agree with Dan. While this is great advice for youth pastors, and I totally see the need for this advice for youth pastors, what if the senior pastor doesn’t know or doesn’t even do some of these things? I guess maybe though, according to this post, the answer would be that the youth pastor shouldn’t work there… Tough situation – kind of like a circle more than a straight line – no clear start point. I’ve seen both sides, where this could work and where it wouldn’t. It would be great if the senior pastors were willing to lead in this aspect, both relationally and by example, and the youth pastors were willing to seek out this relationship.
Agree with Ashley and Dan – this isn’t just about coaching Youth Pastors, its about coaching Senior Pastors as well.
The job of the guy in first place is to disciple the men and women behind him. The end result should be him beginning to live and think about a multigenerational vision.
Which must include one of those brilliant young men or women taking over his job and taking the church to a next level.
Sadly this requires more secured identity than most Senior Pastors have…
Love these….this should be used in so much!!!!!
Interesting comments… I think it also raises an awesome opportunity for accountability and for grace to meet it. The youth pastor who asks for such a relationship would be such a great partner for the sr pastor. Both could grow just from the request. I love the surprises that can come from asking the questions everyone assumes the answer to. You never know. It could be the spark to step up or the spark to move over. What an awesome church where this could actualy play out.
This post from the Internet Monk is required reading for both head pastors & youth pastors:
Five Things That Youth Pastors Need to Hear But You’re Afraid to Tell Them:
My 2 centavos:
Until the “corporate” culture popular in many US evangelical churches goes out of style, we will continue to have pastors who operate like corporate CEOs instead of spiritual fathers.
Until the “youth culture” obsession popular in many US evangelical churches goes out of style, we will continue to have youth pastors who act like 15-yr olds instead of “big brother” type mentors.
Head pastors: we need you to be more like a Zen master, not Donald Trump.
Youth pastors: we need you to be more like a wise big brother, not Ashton Kutcher.
Greg, couldn’t agree more. But then the whole church would have to change. The people would need to stop electing corporate boards who look for a CEO to run the thing and an energetic little boys to entertain the youth.
In fact maybe the people shouldn’t vote at all b/c the church is a Theocracy not a Democracy.
So it’s back to a conversation about apostolic leadership with the heart of the Father.
Greg, love to talk more with you about this….
I love to discuss the church!
I agree wholeheartedly Seth. BUT…most green youth pastors fresh out of Bible school or seminary don’t see the need. I speak from experience. I received this kind of discipling at a time I didn’t want or “need” it. I was ignorant and arrogant.
All but one, maybe two of the sr. pastors I have served w/ or whose church I attended would be all in on this. It has generally been the youth pastor who resisted for whatever reason.
The solution??? Leaders, pastors and boards who demand this as priority & are willing to let some other thing slide.