Youth Ministry

I also blog at The Journal of Student Ministry – but if you’ve read my previous posts about it, they “approve” your blog. A blog that needs approval isn’t a blog, but it’s cool.

I submitted one this morning, but in case it doesn’t approved, I didn’t want to waste my time by not having it published so I’m going to post it as well here. This is what I wrote. I called it “A Stepping Stone.”

I have been around youth ministry enough to have heard scores of people talk about how so many youth pastors use youth ministry as a stepping stone to something else. I was one of those that wanted to be so committed to youth ministry that I was going to be in it forever. It was a crippling thought in my life, but I didn’t know that until a mentor and a good friend told me that I wasn’t a youth pastor. I proceeded to tell him that I majored in it in college and in seminary. It was what I was doing, and he still held to the idea that I was not a youth pastor. I had never been so angry and confused at a fellow pastor-he was the teaching pastor at the church that I was at.

Looking back on that experience, I am really thankful to him. I am so glad that he was willing to be so bold and give me some perspective. I think that thought was pretty debilitating. I don’t know what people are saying to in youth ministry, but what are some of those crippling thoughts that you are hearing that limits you? Do you hold on to the idea that youth ministry is it.

There is a reason why youth pastors end up doing amazing things – like becoming college professors and college administrators, running lucrative and successful companies, and leading amazing initiatives all over the world. Inherent in youth ministry is this training for amazing leadership. Most youth pastors move on to do even great “youth ministry” because of the absolutely awesome training in youth ministry to lead. Where else can you learn to do so much with so very little? Where else can you learn to be the teacher and the administrator and the custodian? Where else can you practice such a breadth and range of disciplines from psychology to theology, philosophy to espn?

Youth pastors do not ever stop being youth pastors, and in many ways, never end doing youth ministries. Youth pastors end up leaving youth ministry because they are amazing, skilled people that would do things that most people won’t.

Use youth ministry as a stepping stone to something else. God isn’t worried about that and the church is resilient enough. Youth ministry will be fine if you leave.

8 thoughts on “Youth Ministry

  1. Pingback: Twitted by Lemness
  2. Wow there are so mant levels to this. I agree God will raise up new youth pastors but what about the students where is the commitment? Students can feel lost when a youth pastor decides to leave and move on I remember I worked with you! I think we move on to easily in life and thats an example I would like to change in me!We are always looking for the next “big thing” what happens when we can’t be content with the thing God has given us?

  3. I agree with Robin. Ministry- of any kind- should be a calling, not a business move. Do it because God wants you to lead a Bible study, mentor teens, make a difference in someone’s life, be a good example. Don’t do it so you can use the people you’re ministering to so you can get ahead in life.

  4. as i enter the last half of my 30’s, almost none of my peer group is still doing student ministry. i agree with you lem that it is a crippling thought to consider a youth ministry for life attitude or you are a sell out. i think that student ministry feels like a stepping stone because it is. if you are in your early 20’s and you feel called to ministry and into leadership, where in the church is the ONLY place you can serve and work it out. student ministry. and that shouldn’t be looked down on. we should work hard wherever god calls us in whatever ministry context that may be. and as god develops us, as we grow and mature, we should always be living more and more into who god is making us to be. and at some point it will be away from student ministry. let’s celebrate each other’s call into ministry, whatever form that takes!


    1. I love it Benjamin.
      As I read your comment, I can’t help but think about why we think this way about youth pastors. I also think about the responsibility of the church. Has the church created this scenario? It’s great insight that it’s the only place to serve when you’re in your 20’s. I love even more that you call us to serve whole-heartedly no matter what ministry we’re in. You’re so right. No matter what form it takes. I think I’m going to repost your comment as a post so that others can see your insight – well, the ones that follow my blog anyway. Let me know if you have a problem with that and I’ll take it down.

      1. Very Cool Benjamin. I’ll definitely check it out. In fact, I’m teaching a Youth Ministry Programming course, and I’m going to have my students interact with you blog/website to learn from you. I’ll bring a community and they’ll need to interact with your ideas. Thanks for the comment. Be ready for insights from all of us. It’ll probably be more questions than anything.
        Also, would you like to be a guest speaker in our class? Maybe we can have you come to class via skype. Let me know.

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