The Role of a Youth Pastor


It seems as though most Youth Pastor’s feel like at one point or another someone assumes their job is the equivalent of a day care provider for teens. I know I have, and I know many others have.

I guess thats why I found it so amusing last night when my wife told me how her coworkers have been asking so many questions about what I do for a living because they don’t feel like I really have a job. It was amusing because my wife works at a day care, and so on the one hand, we often have parents who assume were a day care provider for their teens, yet here I have actual day care providers saying I don’t really have a job.

It should be noted, firstly, that none of my wife’s coworkers are Christian, and therefore its  hard for them to understand the idea of a “Youth Pastor.” It’s such a foreign idea to them, that it just doesn’t even register.

My wife was kind of taken aback when they asked here these questions as well, and she got home so flustered at all that could come out of her mouth in a way they would understand was that I’m trying to provide an atmosphere to keep kids off drugs and alcohol in the town. She felt so stupid after it came out, but didn’t have another chance to explain to them its so much more than that.

But then last night it kind of ate at me, what is the role of a Youth Pastor. And I mean sure, all of us in youth ministry can come up with something pretty great to say to that pretty quickly. But, to describe it to someone who doesn’t use Christianese or church-talk, how do you explain what you do?

I mean some of the primary functions of a Youth Pastor include things like  Mentor and teacher, but we don’t work in a school, so we can’t say “I’m a teacher” and I’m not part of the Big Brother-Big Sister program, so I can’t say thats what I do. A Youth Pastor is also a shepherd, and believe me, we do have sheep in Trenton, but alas, they wouldn’t believe me or understand me if I told them “I’m a shepherd.”

And I know how I would answer this question, and I’ll share it later this week or next week, but how would you answer someone who doesn’t speak Christianese as to what you do? Leave it in the comments, thanks!

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2 Responses to “The Role of a Youth Pastor”

  1. Hi, I typed in google small youth church minitry and your site popped up. I’m 35 and married and lead the youth group at my church. Things have been going well, we have had about 40 this past year and they were digging into the word of God, then we had some families move to the city and out of state and we have about 10 consistantly. Well out of the 10, 2 sisters have started to hang out with this person not involved in the ministry at church, just a routine member who talks bad about people from church and myself. Now those sisters never come to class, in fact they now have other kids not respecting us and not saying hello and not caring about me and the other leader. We have spoken to the mother of the girls and that was no help. Here in Augusta its difficult to gather support in our neighborhood and I don’t want their to be problems with the other kids. Its terrible because I nor my leaders did anything to warrant this, now its just terrible with those girls not coming to class.

    Do you have any ideas or tips on how to confront this issue? I’m not very confrontational, maybe I should pray for courage. God Bless You.

  2. John, sorry its taken me a few days to get back to, I’ve been away from a computer a few days and just on my phone.

    Its a tought situation, and those are never fun, but those are the root of youth ministry. I would say for starters, something I have always been told by my Dad, “Hurt people hurt people” and that popped in my head as soon as I read your situation. Start with the student who has lead these 2 sisters away from the class, because that person is clearly hurt, and is taking it out on the church. Ultimately, no matter what you do to reach out to the two sisters, it won’t mean anything if you don’t build a relationship with the student leading them away. As to what has hurt them, I can’t speak to that, but building a relationship with them will be crucial to this situation and extremely beneficial to your group. Hope that helps, if theres anything else I can do, feel free to email me. Thanks! God Bless

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