Qualifications of a Great Youth Pastor

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There are some qualifications you need to know before entering the youth pastorate.

What are the qualifications of a youth pastor?

Qualifications of a Youth Pastor: courageous, rigorous discipline, unwavering devotion to Jesus, psychologically strong, brains, and expertise in all that they do.

NIV Deuteronomy 25:4 Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.

I will attempt to argue what it means to be a qualified youth pastor.

Entering the youth pastorate is not easy.  It sucks getting paid nickels and quarters, meeting the demands of parents, elders, and students.

Youth pastors aren’t lazy.  Youth ministry is not only fun and games.  Being a youth pastor is not a “cute” job.  Youth pastors are not only “THE YOUTH PASTOR.”

One of my mentors once told me if the youth pastor has the ability to set up, maintain, and sustain a kick butt youth ministry, he/she will be able to anything they set their mind to.

Youth pastors need to be OXs!   We have to realize everything hangs on the youth pastors leadership.

Traits of a OX-like Youth Pastor:


Character is everything.  Character includes such things as self-discipline, modesty, teamwork, integrity, purity, virtuous, hard work ethic, loyal, honest, , fearless, tenacious, and determined.  Character and responsibility are everything.  The youth pastor must be transforming, not conforming.  Every OX leader must grow in Christ like character (Matt 25.14-30, Luke 8.4-15, 2 Cor 5.17-21, Ephesians 4.17-5.2, Genesis 2.7, Isaiah 64.8, and 2 Cor 4.7-11)



It is essential the youth pastor teaches with power, authority, and with excellency.  Teach from the Bible and connect points with clear application steps.  Great books for youth ministry teaching:  Unleashing God’s Word in Youth Ministry by Barry Shafer, Speaking to Teenagers: How to Think About, Create, and Deliver Effective Messages by Doug Fields and Duffy Robbin, and Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones.



Confronting problems and conflict is a huge part of youth ministry.  If not prepared on how to handle conflict, problems will destroy you.   Youth pastors need to know how to discipline.  If they don’t know how to discipline, their students will run all of them!  I guarantee it.  Youth pastors need to know how to spot out a wolf and rebuke a wolf.  You will not know if your are a Shepard until a wolf shows up.  It is difficult rebuking your students, but they need it and your youth ministry needs it.  Youth ministry is one big-difficult conversation.

Great Family/Relational Person

Great daddy/husband/wife/mother:  The youth pastor must have his/her family life in order.  If you cannot effectively manage the family, there is no way you will be able to manage a youth ministry.


NT Office–Shepard, King, Priest

Detect if you are a Prophet, Priest, and King.

A prophet is a youth pastor who has high vision, passion, discipline for the things to come. A prophet is not scared to rebuke people of their sins and doctrine.  I would consider some of the reforming guys prophets.

A Priest is the ultimate Shepard.  A Priest uses the “love” card a lot and really cares, nurtures, and has a big heart for their students.  I would consider some of the emerging guys Priests.

A King is the youth pastor who dominates everything.  The King is highly skilled in management, organizational structure, and is a great communicator.  I would consider some of the mega youth pastor’s Kings.

It is important you know what type of New Testament office you hold.  Whatever office you are, will determine what type of youth ministry you will build.

The youth pastors has to realize leadership is everything!


Knowing how to study the scriptures and study secular culture is imperative in order to be successful in youth ministry. The youth ministry world needs more youth pastors that are street smart.  Notice I didn’t say church smart, but street smart.  The future youth pastor will need to know how to integrate culture, theology, and youth ministry.  It will be huge if youth pastors are seminary trained and have a great public school education.  Churches will need youth pastor to be very comfortable explaining why the other faiths are wrong and be able to clearly articulate a logical response without looking like a Christian idiot.

“….every youth pastor should never stop training and never stop learning.”

Jeremy Zach Jeremy Zach easily gets dissatisfied with status quo. He reeks with passion and boredom is not in his vocabulary. He becomes wide awake when connecting with student pastors, thinking and writing about student ministry, experimenting with online technology, and working out. He is married to Mikaela and has two calico cats, Stella and Laguna. He lives in Alpharetta, Georgia and is a XP3 Orange Specialist for Orange—a division of the REthink Group. Zach holds a Communication degree from the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities and Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary.

More from Jeremy Zach or visit Jeremy at http://ReYouthPastor.com

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  • Mike

    I am always a bit cynical of “youth” gurus who preach that you must study the culture, watch MTV, etc… I think that it is overated. I don’t know what sitcoms are popular right now, but I have never had a problem being relevant to students. I think that students would rather have adults that are true Jesus followers who care about them, then adults who know what shows they are watching on tv.

    • James Smith

      If you teach them bible and show them unwavering love that will make the difference. You don’t need to know street smarts(makes it sound like a gang to me) just get to know the children a little bit individually and get to know them. A great youth minister will flourish when they build trust with their students and they will eventually learn that we can relate to them in more ways than one. It is important to watch for the “black sheep” but remember they too can be lead to Christ. I’m just a church bus driver fixing to be more if God wills it but those are things I have learned from my experiences.

      • Dan

        I actually believe it is imperative to be a youth pastor with street smarts. We need to be able to relate to the audience we are reaching. You are right we need to show students the Love of God as well as teach the Bible. But if we do not know how to relate to kids they simply won’t understand the language we are speaking. Showing love to them also means going to where they are and reaching them where they’re at. If we cannot do this then it’ll be like trying to teach the bible to an English person speaking Spanish, they will not understand.

        • chris

          Spot on Dan! Amen!

  • Guest

    Weak! Weak! Weak! Don’t use scriture unless it actually has something to do with your point. Taking God’s words out of context and using His words to say what you want to say is really shallow and shows you have either little understanding or respect for God’s word.  The most important thing a youth leader can do is to accurately tell the word of God and hold it far above his own thoughts. Let God do the speaking and let us get out of the way.  

  • Jesus Freak

    Dude you forgot a youth pastor has to be loving and compassionate. duh :-P

  • Derek Sullivan

    I would classify myself as a “Priest”

  • Katya Pomales


  • josh

    Im sorry but I feel as though this article seriously missing a few points.
    1. Love for the youth and their families or those closest to them. This should not be a road traveled alone.
    2. And Above All Else, a love and a lasting relationship with God. This article really only spoke of an “unwavering devotion to Jesus” in the second paragraph when in reality, you can make an entire series of lessons just on Gods love alone.

    Knowledge and understanding of scripture is beyond important in youth ministry, but love is key.

    • john g

      Well the pt of the article was to be brief so they def couldnt hit everything. Also in them saying Jesus we can assume that includes the Trio. I agree with the love part.

  • John Garcia

    As a youth pastor, i’d say this article is accurate but it doesn’t hit all the ares of qualifications because that list is forever growing. The main things are love, discipline and willingness to be used. It also takes someone who can stay atrong and stand alome at times when ministry, events or relationships are bad or hard. They need to be a great leader that takes the ministry of students and leaders and LEADS them to a better place than they were a week prior. I don’t always succeed in this, but it is my goal

  • aaron

    To keep it short and sweet, what about praise and worship?


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