Virtues of a Successful Youth Pastor #4 – Never Grow up

Here’s an extra freebie for any youth pastor out there that will be candidating soon. I remember when I was around 12, we had a Youth Pastor that was called away as a a missionary to Mexico, the church was thrilled for him, and it was honestly a good departure. But I remember the first guy that was brought in to candidate, my dad picked him up at the airport, and had me and a few other kids around my age or older in the car with him. My dad purposefully left this guy in the car with three of us tweens/teens while he ran into a store, so that later we could tell him our thoughts. The guy didnt say a word to us in the car though. He just sat in the front silent, looking around, almost oblivious to the fact that there were youth kids in the car.

They continued on with the interviews as planned, but from the outset they knew he wasnt the right guy. What kind of youth pastor can be in the car with three youth kids for 10 minutes and not say a single word to them?

I was reminded of this recently after realizing I might need to remove one of my leaders. Not because she is failing morally or saying bad things to the kids, but because she has grown up too much. She’s not interested in the “little problems” of some of the girls in our youth group so she is failing as a listener.

That one little idea, though, got me thinking about a whole mess of other things. I think too many Youth Pastor’s are Growing up. We are losing our interest in the things these kids are doing and we are making the kids in our youth group try and catch up with us. I think we need to get over ourselves and get back to enjoying the things our kids do!

When was the last time you stayed up all night playing video games with the boys in your group? When was the last time you really listened to a girl tell you how distraught she was over her recent break up and truly understood her and didn’t just write her off as childish?

Last night, my wife and I got to be 14 again at our church’s thanksgiving dinner. We had all the youth sit in one corner, and over the course of the meal, things quickly escalated from dropping a pinch of salt on someone’s drink while they weren’t looking, to 10 minutes later dropping a slice of pumpkin pie in their drink, along with creamer, corn, salt, pepper, stuff, turkey, on and on and on, and then challenging someone to drink it. I can’t tell you the number of dirty looks I received from old ladies in the church, but I do know that my wife and I had a blast just being with the kids. I can’t imagine what would have happened if I had been too grown up for that to have happened.

All that aside, I haven’t even touched on it on the spiritual side, or how we prepare our lessons. Do you remember what it was like to be 14 and trying to read the bible? It was long and confusing and didn’t make any sense. I think too many times we focus on that and try and explain it away. What can we do to impart a sense of awe and wonder to these teens we work with? How can we get from trying to explaining away the bible to getting them excited about the fact that we as humans can never fully understand it because God is too big of a God for us to grasp what he is saying?

The bible tells us to have faith like a child. In my mind, if you want to be effective in ministry, this holds especially true.


One Response to “Virtues of a Successful Youth Pastor #4 – Never Grow up”

  1. Good thoughts on trying to explain the mysteries of God. I hope my students never lose their child like faith

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