Saturday, January 31, 2009

What to say to a new youth pastor (part 4)

I think the next thing we need to remember is to think long-term. Youth ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. And results look different in youth ministry than they do in adult ministry.

Adults are much more adept at making outward changes than teens are. Inner changes are just as difficult for both groups. Teens are also good at "faking it."

The real test of a good youth pastor is if his or her teens are still serving God 10 - 15 years down the road. If my former students have solid marriages (and good kids) and solid relationships, if they are good employers or employees, and if they are still serving God and pursuing His plan for their lives years down the road, then I can consider myself a successful youth pastor.

If the timeline of their lives could be represented by a line (a continuum), then my influence in their lives as a youth pastor would basically be a dot. As a youth pastor, I have to concern myself with the line rather than with the dot. And that affects the decisions I make, the things I preach and the example I set before them.

What to say to a new youth pastor (part 3)

Next I would say to start with what you have.  You don't have to have a super-cool, rockin' worship team with MTV quality graphics to be a good youth group.  As I said before, just concentrate on what you have now, not what you don't have.  Focus on your strengths, and the strengths of your team and group members.  As you add more teens or team members with other strengths, you can add more capabilities.

When I was a youth pastor in Bonn, we knew in our rental facility (which provided us with a different meeting room each time we met) and with our members' talents, we could never be like the youth group down the street that had an amazingly cool, rockin' worship team.  We had to focus on what we could do best: loving teens.  We determined that each teen that came through the doors would be truly welcomed, engaged in conversation and loved, just as they were.

In the same way, you have to determine what you can actually do.  Yes, dream big.  And don't despise the day of small beginnings.  The youth group down the street started out with a less than perfect band, but kept working on it until they saw the dream become a reality.

But you have to start with what you have, not complain about what you don't have.  When you're faithful in little things, God is able to give you more.

What to say to a new youth pastor (part 2)

Along with that first thought, I would also encourage you to find out who you are.  God has made each of us unique.  We only need to look at fingerprints and retinal scans to see this.

He has given each of us unique gifts, talents and abilities.  And He gave us each of these abilities for a purpose.  He's an intelligent designer... He knew exactly what He was doing.

Jeremiah, speaking on God's behalf, says,

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jer. 29:11

It's important that you discover who you are.  As you discover who you are, it'll be easier to determine who He has created you to be.  And you'll be a better leader when you base your self-esteem on who He has created you to be.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What to say to a new youth pastor (part 1)


What words of wisdom would you give to a new youth pastor?


The first thing I would say is to be yourself  - get to know your strengths and weaknesses, that way you won't be tempted to try to be someone else.  You can never succeed by trying to be someone else.  Teens are drawn to someone that isn't afraid to truly be themselves.  Besides, you don't have to be the coolest person in the world to be a great youth pastor.  You have to love, pastor and teach/train your students.

Focus on your strengths and recruit to your weaknesses (ask those with strengths you need to volunteer).  One of the best ways to build a group is to do what you do best.