The three essentials of a youth pastor’s job

If we’re not careful, a youth pastor’s job description becomes very bloated very quickly, not just with all the stated expectations, but with all the unstated ones, too. Before we know it, we’re juggling so many balls we’re doing nothing but stressing out and ignoring what it is that God actually put us in youth ministry to do in the first place. Most of us seriously need to step back, take a deep breath, and figure out what it is we’re spending all our time on that is truly important and necessary for the ministry that no one else can do but us.

For me, the responsibilities boil down to three areas:

1. Relationships
No one else can build relationships for me. That is something only I can do and something I must do for the sake of effective ministry. That includes relationships with students, with parents, other staff members, school teachers, coaches, youth workers at other local churches, my family and most importantly, with God.

2. Solid Bible Teaching
I went through four years of Bible college and three years of seminary for primarily one reason: to know how to “correctly handle the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) and to learn how to effectively communicate it with others (Ezra 7:10). There’s no one else in our youth ministry who has that kind of training to take teenagers deep into the Word of God, not just to put a different twist on the same basic Bible stories they’ve heard since first grade, but to provide deep spiritual nourishment that the Holy Spirit uses to move them from spiritual milk to solid food (Hebrews 5:12; 1 Peter 2:2). I take lesson prep and delivery very seriously. What a tremendous responsibility and privilege (James 3:1).

3. Training Adult Leaders
As the resident “expert” on youth ministry, no one else can provide the training for adult youth workers that I can. Ministry to kids increases exponentially when I can multiply myself into other mature and passionate adults by training them to be effective in their relationships with teens. I can only reach a limited number of teenagers by myself, but together we can reach our entire community as I lead us.

That’s how I spend and prioritize my time. Anything that doesn’t fall into one of these three categories can typically be done by anyone else. I feel no need to organize events, make schedules, or design newsletters when anyone else can do it just as easily (and probably better) than I can. That’s why almost all of the major events in my church’s youth ministry are led and organized by adult youth workers. I don’t even coordinate most of our weekly meetings. If no one steps up to lead the fund raiser, for example, it just doesn’t happen — that’s all there is to it.

I have the privilege of just showing up to youth meetings, building relationships and teaching God’s Word alongside of leaders who are well-trained. That’s the way a body is supposed to function anyway.

Posted on May 20, 2008

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