Is the role of the youth pastor in the church to:
1. Be the center gear in the youth ministry who is responsible to keep the ministry’s other gears turning?
2. To help the church fulfill its calling to minister to teenagers?
And you can’t say both because if you understand the implications to their fullest extent, they’re opposing ideas.
The first is probably most youth ministry positions in America. The youth pastor is hired to run the youth ministry on behalf of the church, to connect with teens, and to recruit adult leaders who essentially help the youth pastor serve the students.
The second is a much rarer church where the church takes ownership over its youth ministry and serves its students just fine with or without a youth pastor, but they hire one anyway to help them take the ministry to the next level.
One church says, “We pay you to do youth ministry, and we’ll help you out.” The other says, “We’re already doing youth ministry as a congregation, and we’ll hire you to help us do it better.”
One places responsibility for the ministry on the shoulders of a paid staff member, the other assumes responsibility for themselves with a youth pastor to help guide and support them.
The difference is not merely a structural one nor solely a functional one, but it’s the very DNA makeup of the church that compels a congregation to do the work of the ministry to which God has called them both as individuals and as a body with pastors who train and encourage them.
QUESTION: Which church will be healthier in the long run? Which church’s youth ministry will be more sustainable over time?
[These are my own thoughts, but there's more about this concept in Mark Riddle's book, Inside the Mind of Youth Pastors: A Church Leader's Guide to Staffing and Leading Youth Pastors, that first introduced me to this perspective.]
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