Why youth ministry?

One of the questions I receive most often is why did I choose youth ministry?  This question seems like it is easy to answer…God called me to it!  The problem is that it does not seem to be the answer that people want to hear.  Maybe the problem is that they are not asking the right questions?  Many people seem to have preconceived notions about youth pastors, and I want to take the time to set the record straight, as it applies to me, anyway.  Here are three of the most common questions after why  youth ministry?

1)  Its great that you are a youth pastor, but what kind of  pastor do you really want to be?

This is the most common response I receive.  I understand why this question is asked.  Many youth pastors are using their ministry to get their foot in the door of ministry.  I understand that, I really do.  It seems as if a pastor would need to have some experience somewhere else first.  The issue is that I really do want to be a youth pastor.  The desire of my heart is not anywhere but with the younger members of a church.  Not to say that I do not minister in other areas, or even that I am opposed to it.  As a matter of fact, I enjoy working in many other areas, but this is where my heart is, and it is where I feel God has called me.

2)  My child has had three different youth pastors since entering sixth grade.  How long will you be here?

This one hits hard.  I can’t answer this question, because I want to follow God’s plan, not my own.  When I started youth ministry 12 years ago, the average church life span of a youth pastor was three to four years.  As of last year, that number has fallen to two years or less.  Many leave to pursue other types of ministries.  Others feel like they have shared all they can in two years.  For me, I have a whole bible to share with students, plus life experiences.  If God calls me somewhere else, I will go with joy…but until that time, I am here for the long haul.

3)  Why would you want to babysit teenagers from after children’s ministry until they are young adults?

Sadly, this is the view of many churches.  At a church planting conference, I was actually told that youth ministry is not planned for in a church plant launch because it is the only ministry that costs more money than it makes.  Many people approach youth ministry as a babysitting service.  It shouldn’t be…no, it can’t be that.  This is the last chance that the church has to make sure that Christian youth will continue to be active Christian adults. A babysitter just watches and makes sure no harm comes to the “baby”.  A youth pastor has to equip students for life.

In an ideal world, my job would be to compliment what parents teach.  Unfortunately, that is not always the case.  In 12 years, I have seen several students lead their parents to Christ.  Any youth group I have been the pastor of experienced growth, not because of me, but because of the students who go out and share the gospel with their friends.  Many times, their ability to share with their friends comes from training received from myself and the youth workers I have been fortunate enough to have working alongside me.

Concluding Thought

    I can’t speak for every youth pastor, and my answers are not necessarily right for everyone, but they are for me.  So to answer the original question: Why youth ministry?  Because, God has called me to work with teens, pointing them to Christ, and helping them to become fully devoted followers of Christ.