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Friday, November 04, 2005

What Youth Ministers Wish Their Senior Pastors Knew

Youthpastor A while back, there was quite a storm about the post about "Six Things Worship Pastors Would like to Tell their Senior Pastors"... now "Pastor J" has a sequel for Youth Pastors... see what you think... (props to Rachel for this link)...

Pastor J writes...

After having been in youth ministry for over 10 years, I have had my share of great and not so great pastors to work with and be around. I have talked with many a youth pastor and shared over a table at Taco Bell (the ultimate YM hangout) the frustrations and laughs of pastors. Many just don’t “get” youth ministry and end up fighting us along the way. I have my top 10 of what Every Youth Pastor Wished Their Pastor Knew About Youth Ministry:

1. YM is not Adult Ministry – don’t expect it to act like it. YM is unpredictable as we deal with so many variables from teenagers, adults and school schedules.
2. YM is not about the numbers – true YM is about discipling and seeing teenagers lives changed for Christ. This is something that may not be seen sometimes for years to come. It is not about “How many we have”…
3. Because we are not in the office does not mean we are “taking time off”. We are out there in the trenches where the teenagers are.
4. YM is not the dumping ground for what the church doesn’t want to do – Please don’t give us the chores that the adults don’t want to do around the church. If only I had a nickel for every meeting I was in that the phrase, “that sounds like a good project for the YM”, was used.
5. We are more than “babysitters” in the church – we are ministers called and equipped to lead.
6. Include us in the Ministry of the Church – Communication is key to unity. Information reduces anxiety. Keeping each other informed out our ministries only helps us.
7. Please allow us to fail – let us try new ministry approaches. Remember what is now “tradition” was once “new and cutting edge”. Also, when we fail, love us back to where we were. Don’t belittle us in front of church or it’s members. Praise us publicly for taking risks in the name of Christ.
8. Mentor us – Make sure we are getting fed. Let us go to conferences, pray with us, hold us accountable, challenge us and teach us from your wisdom.
9. Be teachable – Please be teachable yourself. Don’t assume that you know more than us. We just might have something intelligent to add
10. We also need a sabbatical. YM is a tiring and rewarding ministry. But we also need our time to be refreshed, renewed and time to be with our family.

That is my top ten list. Have I missed something? Let me know.
What do you wish your Pastor knew or understood about youth ministry?

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November 4, 2005 in Senior Pastors | Permalink

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I would like to add one. Allow us to disagree with you. Just because you think something is not going to work doesn't mean it won't.
Also am I the only youth pastor this happens to. Every October during pastor appreciation month the staff gets invited to peoples houses for dinner. Always, ALWAYS My wife and I sit with the kids while the other ministers sit with the adults. Hello!?!?! Now granted I am a youth minister, but that don't mean I don't like to talk to adults. I am one! Have been for awhile now. Am I alone here?
Sorry got on a Soap box. For the most part however I have had really good relationships with my Senior Pastors.

Posted by: Jade | Nov 4, 2005 10:41:06 AM

THEIR, Todd. Hehe, sorry, I had to say it.

Also, great list. I'm a YP...and reading the list I'm not sure I would add anything. The "don't give us all the chores others don't want to do" made me chuckle, because sometimes I feel that way.

My pastors are really supportive and awesome so I think I'm more fortunate than your average YP, but even they could benefit from this list. Nobody's perfect.

Posted by: Jackson | Nov 4, 2005 12:18:03 PM

"YM is not the dumping ground for what the church doesn’t want to do – Please don’t give us the chores that the adults don’t want to do around the church. If only I had a nickel for every meeting I was in that the phrase, “that sounds like a good project for the YM”, was used."

May I suggest a tactic? Next time you attend a meeting like this, bring up your own vision, mission, and request for help. Rather than being quite and taking other's work, explain the programs you are working on and the help that you also need... in short, turn the tables on them... Maybe you'll find this advice taking your job more seriously, and others will look-up to you and respect your work/vision? If you have nothing to do but fire-fight, then they'll give you more fires to fight...

If you want respect, earn it. Learn the issues at Church, and take a stand for how to resolve them. Be informed and vocal... in short, a serious contributor.

Posted by: Bernie Dehler | Nov 4, 2005 12:49:29 PM

I would agree with Bernie. Go into a ministry with your vision clear, your purpose defined, your expectations high, and your strategy ready for implementation. Not that you go in with the attitude of changing everything that was there previously, with a vision that starts heading in a direction that other people can rally around and really sink their teeth into.

Unfortunately, I worked under a pastor in my previous ministry that could've really used this list. I eventually resigned after hitting complete frustration and then some time later heard that the church has fallen apart and ceased to exist. :-(

The pastor at my current church, though, is great. Complete trust, freedom, flexibility, the right to say "no" and to lead the youth in the direction that God lays on my heart. Woo hoo!

Posted by: Tim | Nov 4, 2005 1:17:24 PM

As any and all associates in ministry, you are there to implement and complement the completion of the mission of the church. The vision has in most cases already been defined before you got there. You don 't have the privilege to just pursue what you think God would have you to do. You are there to discern what the Lord is doing and move towards that.

Senior Pastors, other staff members and Elders were there and they added to their staff someone they thought would be able to help them accomplish their mission.

If you want to develop a separate entity, go into church planting, not join a staff.

I've been both youth pastor and senior pastor. I've hung around with both and I can readily attest to you that the biggest conflict comes when associates think the church exists to fund and support their ministry rather than the other way around.

Youth pastors will get along famously with their senior mentors if they show a spirit of cooperation, humility and selflessness.

Posted by: pjlr | Nov 4, 2005 4:49:03 PM

pclr said:
"As any and all associates in ministry, you are there to implement and complement the completion of the mission of the church. The vision has in most cases already been defined before you got there. You don 't have the privilege to just pursue what you think God would have you to do. You are there to discern what the Lord is doing and move towards that."

You make it sound like everything's defined. In actually, plans/programs have to be continuously reviewed and re-assessed. The staff is alsways growing in wisdom. It's not static... not at all!

As such, with the right mindset, you can be a major contributor to all facets of church ministry and management. Most bosses may appreciate that. If not, your choices are to battle with the boss, go along with the incompetant boss half-heartedly, or quit. If you choose to battle (bad boss) or contribute (good boss), you can do all this in love and humility.

Just my thoughts...

Posted by: Bernie Dehler | Nov 4, 2005 6:23:03 PM

I understand what pjlr is saying, but I still disagree with it. God has given each of us a vision for ministry. We each work best when we are given the freedom to excel and pursue that vision with the encouragement of those around us. That is what my sr. pastor does for me and what I do for my adult youth leaders. The sr. pastor equips me to pursue my calling in ministry and I do the same to equip and invest into my youth volunteers so they are as effective as possible in implementing the passion God's given them. My sr. pastor gives me the freedom to go wherever the Lord is leading with the youth ministry. He comes along-side me to make sure I'm successful in it. I do the same for my leaders. My dream becomes his dream. The dreams of my youth leaders become my dream and we pursue those dreams together.

Posted by: Tim | Nov 5, 2005 1:32:40 AM

Bernie and Tim: In a good church, the vision is set by the presiding Senior Pastor and Elders. While associates get green lights for their plans and are encouraged in building their skills, this happens in the context of fulfilling the existing church vision. Programs, events and activities are not equivalent to mission and vision. They are tools to facilitate the vision. Tim, I would suspect that your Pastor is being very supportive because your program, activities and planned events are in agreement with the church's vision. Try going against that in the direction you feel "the calling of God" and I suspect your support will vanish rather quickly:)

Any associate who pursues any other vision other than the one that has already been defined by the church is engaging in subversion. It is no wonder that so many associates (youth pastors in particular) only end up in their churches for 2 or 3 years. It is also no wonder that they claim that they weren't supported by their Senior pastors and Boards either.

Before any associate candidates at a church (and even a Senior Pastor for that matter), they should inquire exhaustively about the mission and vision of the church. They should then determine if they are compatible before they pursue possible appointment. It would save the pastor and the church much conflict if that matter is settled before the appointment starts.

Posted by: pjlr | Nov 5, 2005 5:23:45 PM

pjlr:

"In a good church, the vision is set by the presiding Senior Pastor and Elders."

"Any associate who pursues any other vision other than the one that has already been defined by the church is engaging in subversion."

Hey, pjlr, would you please give us the Scriptural support for what you contend?

I consider the Early Church and those that immediately followed, to be more than a "good church," and yet you want find them setting vision statements and certainly not governed by pastors and/or elders.

The only "vision statement" that they received from Jesus (you know, the One who builds the Church) lived on was "Go." And this wasn't just for the "leaders," but for EVERYONE. The marching orders still stand for us today.

Anything beyond that is concocting a straw man for controlling others...plain and simple.

Posted by: Ricky | Nov 6, 2005 1:17:51 AM

Great Article.

I served for many years as a youth pastor before becoming a Senior Pastor myself. I've noticed in my travels around the country and the world over the last 4 years of itinerant ministry a lot of pastors have who have never been in youth ministry do not understand what YM is all about these days; or they were "youth ministers" during a period when youth ministry WAS more about pizza and Six Flags and not making disciples!

I especially liked the one about not being in the office...many scars and t-shirts on that one!

To Youth Pastors everywhere: keep up the work and remember you are building God's Kingdom and not a mans: He WILL pay you well!

David Copeland

Posted by: David | Nov 7, 2005 7:19:55 AM

pjlr (and others like him),

Please stop being a CEO and start being a shepherd. Granted, there is no room for mavericks. Like an arial flight team the wingmen take their cues from the point pilot, but each "pilot" has his own aircraft to fly and has to respond to the instruments giving him the signals.

It just might be possible that from time to time senior pastors have to come with a spirit of cooperation, humility and selflessness as well.

Work together to accomplish the purpose. Iron sharpens iron. You might gain some wisdom and learn to "discern what the Lord is doing" as he speaks through your "junior" staff. Allow the staff to grow together in wisdom together as you wrestle through issues together instead of from the top down.

Posted by: Neal | Nov 7, 2005 10:33:07 AM

The ten points in the article were good. I have been both a youth pastor and senior pastor and currently am doing both!! The key from what I have learned is to find a sr. pastor/youth pastor realtionship that fits well. You need to work togther as a team, supporting each other. Probably the biggest issue is our ego's on both sides. We need to loose them quickly and work together.

Posted by: Pastor Dan | Nov 7, 2005 11:59:24 AM

I would add this one:

Youth ministry is valuable in itself and is not just my way of 'paying my dues' in preparation for a real ministry role.

Posted by: Billy | Nov 7, 2005 12:34:33 PM

Todd,
Since we have had a list of what worship leaders and youth pastors would like their senior pastor to know, now, how about a list of what senior pastors would like their staff to know.

Posted by: Larry | Nov 7, 2005 1:13:17 PM

Ok so I started doing youth ministry back in 1978. And new programs have come and gone and new formats and styles of music-- One thing has never changed in youth ministry
Relationships!
No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
I don't care how you do it but unless the kids you work with see thelove of Christ flowing out of your life and how you relate to them everything else is secondary.
We need to stop trying to be te coolest peron around and being a reflection of Christ-- this ismore importat than anything else we can do with todays broken homes and dysfunctional families. We cn truly be a lamp in their life!
One of the best things I have seen happen to youth ministry is way back when- All youth pastors were right out of bible college or seminary and it was a tempoerary step to becoming a "Real pastor" There was no longevity in the miistry.
Today there are many of us who have been working with the kids for years-- and it takes time to develop the relationships and to disciple our kids. My job as a youth pasor is not a stepping stone to anything-- this is my ministry and where God has called me.

But the blessings come when you have had a kid just "Showing up" for several years and then all of a sudden see the light go on and their life turned aroud for Christ. Oh ad the joy of seeing the "kids" you had in their teen years now being leaders in their curches and how they are loving parents and walking wit their Lord in all they do.
I want to encourage any and all of you that are discouraged- Hang in there- This is a wonderful ministry and you are needed

Posted by: Garry Elam | Nov 7, 2005 1:15:17 PM

Here's another one. YM is not in the Bible. The concept of adosescence as a separate phase of life between childhood and adulthood did not show up in our culture until the early 20th century and came from secular psychology not scripture. The Bible speaks of two types of people from an age perspective, children and adults. Once we're no longer children we're adults and should be ministered to and discipled as such. (I Corinthians 13:11 among others)

Posted by: LarryF | Nov 7, 2005 3:01:37 PM

Pjlr,
I can promise you I would never serve alongside you. Not trying to be harsh but just from you wording I can tell you are Dictator pastor.
"You don 't have the privilege to just pursue what you think God would have you to do." Are you serious????????? Reread what you wrote and tell me this is not unbiblical
"Senior Pastors, other staff members and Elders were there and they added to their staff someone they thought would be able to help them accomplish their mission."

Ok it is not their mission it is God's mission. Again I would not serve with you and I would discourage anyone serving with you until you let God change your attitude. "you don't have the privledge." Where do you get off!??!?!?!?!?!

Posted by: Jade | Nov 8, 2005 10:16:16 AM

Jade, don't worry, I won't ask you:)
It's interesting that you have me all figured out and yet you don't know me other than a few words that I have typed.

Read the phrase again: ""You don 't have the privilege to just pursue what you think God would have you to do."

The critical part of that is the word "think" Confirmation of God's call doesn't come in a vacuum but rarely. It is confirmed in the midst of the brethren, and mature brethren are more likely to get it right.

Youth pastors as a general rule are inexperienced in ministry. They need the gentle guiding hand of senior brothers and sisters to help them discern the voice of the Lord.

Anybody and everybody has the right to do whatever they think the Lord wants them to do, but what do you do when what you think God wants you to do conflicts with the leadership of your church? Look at the logical implications of such a statement and you'll see what I mean.

Associates are called to assist a church in fulfillilng the vision that church has articulated through much prayer, fasting and discertning the voice of the Lord. To come into that situation and suggest that you want to go in another direction is not healthy for the church or the youth pastor.

Quit jumping to conclusions and think the issue through. It's not about being a dictator, it's about leading and protecting the sheep of His flock. You can't have 2 or 3 steering wheels on the church bus.

I have had the privilege of having 11 staff members work with me over the years. Not a one of them would say that I am a dictator as they all enjoyed working with me. If you every decide to visit our church, try discouraging any one of them from working with me, they'd think your were joking.

If all I had to judge you with was the few words you wrote in your comment, I could come to some conclusions about you that wouldn't be flattering. I'll take a pass. You are probably a good enough person who misunderstood what I had to say.

Peace

Posted by: pjlr | Nov 8, 2005 3:47:27 PM

Pjlr,
"Associates are called to assist a church in fulfillilng the vision that church has articulated through much prayer, fasting and discertning the voice of the Lord"
The associates are there to help cast the vision. Of course the pastor is the leader, but the associates input should be valuable and help with the vision casting.
It is a partnership.
"Youth pastors as a general rule are inexperienced in ministry. They need the gentle guiding hand of senior brothers and sisters to help them discern the voice of the Lord." Again are you serious? You honestly think your associates need your help to discern the will of the Lord. They need you to help mentor them, yes, discern no. That is something God will teach them.
Again i can tell you are a little bit of a micro manager. Sorry if dictator was too strong of a word. I was not trying to imply you are bad senior pastor. I just would not want to work under you. We Y.P. are REAL ministers too. We don't need to grow up someday to be Senior Pastors, nor is the SP job any more important than ours. One can't function with out the other. It is a team effort.
To me your statements says: "A YP needs to do what his told, because his thoughts about the direction the church is going is not important. And because of his lack of experience I need to watch carefully or he could wreck my church." Did I get it wrong. Then tell me so. Share your heart with me. As for your current staff. Ask them if I am wrong or how they fell about your statements. See what they say. Of course if I am right about you, and I think I am, they will be afraid to answer honestly.

Posted by: Jade | Nov 8, 2005 4:33:18 PM

I have 3 yrs. in YM. Altho, I always use some sort of lesson materials, my wife is incredably effective with out a lesson from a book. Yet we had those who frownd on that. She was/is first and formost a friend to the young people. She has in her mind what she is going to do and always knows where it comes from in the bible. The young people love her for that. I wish Pastors knew that even just spending time with young people and becoming someone they can talk to is THEE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT YOUTH MINISTRY!!!!!

Posted by: Doug | Nov 8, 2005 5:00:05 PM

Jade, I took your advice, I assembled my staff together (3 other pastors, 1 secretary, and 2 maintenance personnel)to get their reponse. I gave them two simple rule to follow.

1. Read the post carefully and each comment carefully.
2. Tell me what you think, and don't hold back anything.

Their responses:
One laughed so hard I thought I was going to have to give him oxygen.
Another laughed but gained her composure.
Another was incredulous
Another was upset that someone would "diss" her pastor and friend.
Another stated that you weren't even close.
And another said, don't worry pastor if we ever had someone like that on our staff we would recognize it as a mistake and help you reassign him./her.

I then asked them what they thought your response would be to our findings based on the limited information you have provided in your comments.

One said it would only confirm in your mind that I am a dictator who has managed to brainwash the staff.
Another said you would become defensive.
A third said you'd be indifferent to anything other than what you have already postulated
Another said, I hope he apologizes, but I doubt he will.

Now I have a simple challenge for you. Show your senior pastor the post and the responses and ask him if you are correct in your conclusions.

Based on what you have posted and only on that basis, I can only assume 3 things. 1. You have failed to understand my simple assertions. 2. You are incredibly immature in your thinking. 3. You are filtering your answers from a previous bad experience.

I doubt that I can say any of the above with any kind of certainty as I don't know you. See what happens when you jump to conclusions without facts.

Now the good news. You won't ever have to worry about working for me :) I like team players, not individuals who are pursuing their own "vision."

Posted by: pjlr | Nov 8, 2005 7:04:53 PM

Jade said to PJLR:
" As for your current staff. Ask them if I am wrong or how they feel about your statements."

Jade,

Likely whatever PJLR asks his staff about himself will be what he wants to hear.. or they may be out of a job. I'm sure he knows who his detractors are... and everyone who's doing something serious has detractors, right? One could probably learn more about their problems from critics rather than friends.

Posted by: Bernie Dehler | Nov 8, 2005 7:11:42 PM

Bernie, with all due respect, you are wrong as usual. Your comments hardly ever have anything that is close to a silver lining. You have a bad case of negativitis.

You have no idea of my staff relations. And I feel confident, based on your negative comments on just about anything posted on this blog, that no matter how good my relationships with my staff are, you'd find some mosquito poop to concentrate on.

BTW, since you're going to get the last word in, go ahead and say what you are going to say. Make it good and long because I won't be addressing it.

Posted by: pjlr | Nov 9, 2005 9:18:45 AM

Pjlr,
My response hmm. Well first of all you don't have to answer to me. If you and your staff get along fine than good for you all keep up the good work. If I miss understood you I am sorry.
As for taking the comments to my pastor I shall and you will here the response.
I am credibly immature. Hmm. Kind of below the belt don't you think. I have served with 4 senior pastor so far. Each I have got along with very good. Mostly because we work as a team. Now I have not be in ministry as long as you or maybe most here. I started preaching in 1997 you do the math. However the immature comment was a little hard. I already apologized for my dictator comment. If you don't agree with me fine, I can see we both are pretty locked in our position. Your comments back to me, could be read as what........

Posted by: Jade | Nov 9, 2005 11:44:41 AM

Jade: I didn't say you were immature. My disclaimer was:

"Based on what you have posted and only on that basis, I can only assume 3 things. 1. You have failed to understand my simple assertions. 2. You are incredibly immature in your thinking. 3. You are filtering your answers from a previous bad experience.

I doubt that I can say any of the above with any kind of certainty as I don't know you. See what happens when you jump to conclusions without facts?"

My sincerest apologies if I hit below the belt. I was only making the point that I felt you read a lot into my statements that wasn't there. I countered (and not maliciously) with reading a lot into your statement that probably wasn't there to make a point.

I prefer to think that you just misunderstood my original comments about leadership, vision and how a team members feeds into, that vision and leadership.

I will assume that you will forgive me, after all the Bible says to :) I hope you understood that I wasn't attacking you personally.

Later friend. No blood, no foul.

Posted by: pjlr | Nov 9, 2005 12:47:08 PM

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