Putting your senior pastor in his place (part 2)

Senior pastorsHi, my name is Tony Myles and I’m a former-Youth-Pastor-turned-Lead-Pastor who is a volunteer youth worker in my church’s youth ministry under the volunteers who lead it.

(I typically hear a pin drop when I say that out loud – that is, once I catch my breath from that mouthful.)

It’s all true, though.

As I shared last week, one of the more challenging relationships for youth workers is the one they form with the senior leadership of the church. For most, it’s the Lead Pastor or Elder Board, although it could be an Executive Pastor or Ministry Director who oversees that area of the church.

To keep things simple, let’s presume you’re a youth worker and you’re trying to put your senior pastor into his place.

The question becomes what his place will be.

When I first came to my church, I remember eyeballing the state of ministry to teenagers and noting that “something needs to happen there.” Literally two weeks later, I received an email from someone who told me that he had read the values of our website and was intrigued. He wanted to meet with me about the possibility of being a part of our church.

A few days later, I was gnawing on a bagel at Panera Bread with a guy I’d never met. He told me how he’d just graduated from Bible college and wanted to build a youth ministry in our church.

Keep in mind, he’d never actually come to a service. Likewise, this was our first meeting and conversation.

But boy, did he have ideas. Lots of them. The more he shared, the more I ate my bagel and chewed on the absurdity of what I was hearing.

When the sales pitch was done, I wiped my mouth with a napkin and asked, “What can you tell me about our teenagers?”

He paused, then answered, “I don’t know. I haven’t met any.”

I followed up with another hum-dinger. “Then why are we talking about a ministry model?”

I could tell he wasn’t comfortable with where this was going. “I just know that what I’m sharing you will work.”

“It might,” I said. “Tell you what – how about you come hang out with us for a month and tell me if the Lord is stirring your heart in any way.”

“Sure,” he replied. “Sounds great.”

I never saw him again.

About a month later, a woman in our church approached me outside of the movie theater we were gathering in. “I’m ummm… I’m not really sure how to say this… but… well… I noticed there isn’t anything happening for the teens. I wouldn’t know where to start, but, well, I love them and think there ought to be something for them like there is for us, you know?”

She appeared nervous, but I never heard a more eloquent call to youth ministry.

“JoAnn,” I said, “you’re awesome. How can I get behind that?”

I share these two stories because each youth worker had strengths and blind spots that caused me to respond to them in specific ways. Consider that, for most of the time youth workers feel their senior pastor is __________ when he may be responding to the ___________ he sees in you.

Next week I’ll share more about my current role in youth ministry, but first chew on that last point. How is what you bring to the table as a youth worker affecting the “utensils” your senior pastor is pulling out?

Posted on July 12, 2011

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