November 29, 2012 by eimrick
I’ve been a youth pastor now for 14 years. I’ve seen trends come and go. I inherited a position at Cuyahoga Valley Church that had a whole garage of “youth ministry in a box” type items, Doug Fields books (which I loved), VHS tapes, and monster feet (the type that roar when you take a step). I used to be facinated with all of that. Not anymore.
At the risk of sounding cheesy, I chose to call my new blog “teenbuilding”. I’m new to this so in a year or so, I may regret this title. Let me share with you a few reasons why I chose this title.
In order to build up teens and equip them to be all they can be for Christ;
1. Youth Pastors need to think more like architects rather than circus clowns.
Architects build. Circus clowns entertain.
You always land on the foundation you build. The more we focus on the foundation when students are young, the more likely the structure will be strong down the road. Circus clowns focus on “cool events” and only look at the numbers of students in a ministry. Circus clown youth pastors don’t have any achitectual plan and help to develop students that build their houses on sand.
2. Youth Pastors need to actually partner with parents rather than saying nifty phrases that make other youth pastors think they are.
I hear youth pastors talk openly about the need to partner with parents, but very few have a plan to do so. Take a step back and ask yourself a couple of questions:
a. How is my program this week intentionally assisting parents?
b. How many hours of my week is dedicated to parents?
c. How are we assisting and equipping parents to really be the spiritual leader of their homes?
3. Youth Pastors need to have a strong singular focus that is pursued with creativity and clarity.
The best youth pastors are working themselves out of a job (a lifelong endeavor of swinging the spiritual responsibility pendulum back to mom and dad and away from themselves). Everything needs to be centered around that goal with laser focus.
4. Youth Pastors need to realize that there is very little time between the ages of 12-18.
It wasn’t until I hit 35 that I realized the truth of this statement. Most people who commit to Christ do so by the age of 14. The next four years are crucial to their overall development. Every hour that’s spent in the office, with parents or with students is absolutely crucial.
5. Youth Pastors have to have a plan for their youth ministry that helps parents become better, more godly parents.
Whether students are ready for it or not, by the time they hit ages 22-26 (adolescence has been extended), they will experience full autonomy and high responsibility. Our program needs to keep this in mind and help parents keep this in mind as they plan. The only real difference between the last day of high school and the first day of college should only be the place a student lays their head. Are we helping parents think this way?
What are things that might distract youth pastors from thinking like architects? What are ways you overcome the temptation of thinking like a circus clown?