Thursday, May 19, 2011

What Does A Youth Pastor Do All Day?

One of the most commonly asked questions of Youth Pastors is this- "What do you do all day?"  It is usually asked by the youth themselves, but occasionally by their parents, the congregation, or under rare and dangerous circumstances by the Senior Pastor.  The answer is much more complicated than most people might realize.  I submit to you today that Youth Pastors are usually the most under-appreciated staff member in our churches. In fact, for myself (and I suspect many other Youth Pastors who have worked in small to medium sized churches) the real answer to the question is...EVERYTHING!

To show you what I mean, let me give you a list of some of the things I was asked to do during any given month at the churches I served. My tasks included, but were not limited to:
  • Planning, directing and executing everything related to student ministry.  This usally takes no more than 80 hours a week...
  • Serving as the fill-in preacher on rare scheduled occasions and every time the Senior Pastor woke up sick at 6 AM Sunday morning.  No one can "wing it" quite like a Youth Pastor!
  • Driving the church van for the senior citizens groups and women's groups of the church.  Why me?  Because I had logged thousands of miles in those vans without incident- and because they knew I would say yes after the Senior Pastor turned them down.
  • Playing guitar & leading music during worship when the Contemporary Worship leader was sick or off interviewing at a church that was actually contemporary.
  • Teaching the staff how to use word processing programs, data bases and graphic software.  In later years, building and maintaining the church website.  I knew very little about computers, but "very little" made me the expert of those church staffs.
  • Make the wild, creative and envelope pushing suggestions that really rattled staff meetings- then smile as your suggestions were discarded.
  • Bringing creativity to worship.  I wrote and directed dramas, made videos, introduced new music and taught volunteers how to run Media Shout.  And then when they didn't show up, I ran Media Shout!
  • Do the "Children's Moment" during Sunday worship.  Even at churches where we had a CE Director or Children's Ministry Coordinator, somehow I got this job every week.
  • Set up the sound system anytime any one used the Fellowship Hall during the day, because no one else on staff knew how to do it.
  • Make suggestions about making the worship service more relevant for teenagers, only to be looked at like you just suggested actually singing the 3rd verse of a hymn...
  • Be the one person on staff who worked most every holiday and all summer long, because that's when students have the most available time.
Please understand- I am not complaining. I loved being in ministry for all those years, and I am sure my brothers and sisters in student ministry feel the same way.  But I also hope you understand that being a Youth Pastor is hard work.  They don't just sit around all day thinking of new ways to ruin the Jones Memorial Carpet or spend all of the church's money.  They deal with screwed-up families, broken relationships and one of the largest mission fields around.  They plan trips, go to ball games, concerts and dance recitals (you will feel their pain when you sit through a 3 hour recital to watch 1 student dance).  They study, pray and prepare to lead programs.  And many of them- in my experience, the VAST majority- do all of these things in a spirit of love and service, because they want so badly for people to know Jesus. 

Appreciate your Youth Pastors, my friends.  And if you happen to be one- then God bless you!  I know the challenges you face and the work load you carry.  I would love to be praying for you by name, so leave me a comment and I'll add you to my list.  And remember, God sees all that you do that is hidden to the eyes of humans, and your reward is still to come.  Keep the faith, my friends!

4 comments:

  1. Yeah, sitting through the plays, musicals and stuff like that can be fun at times, but not all times :)

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  2. AMEN! Well-written, Carl...and so TRUE!

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  3. Thanks so much Ashley- means a lot coming from you!

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  4. Couldn't have said it better myself. Glad someone else could verbalize what we do, because I always say...uhhhhh. Lot's of stuff you wouldn't understand. And normally, people of the youth group or congregation don't get it anyway. It's a youth pastor thing. :)

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