13 March 2009 ~ 0 Comments

Inside the Mind of Youth Pastors- Your Youth Ministry Reflects Your Church

51hpsjh6izl_sl500_aa240_I recently read through Mark Riddle’s Inside the Mind of Youth Pastors. This book is written as a guide for Senior Pastors and others involved in leading or hiring a youth pastor, but my guess is that it’s being read by more youth pastors than Senior Pastors.  I was curious as to what Mark thought was in my head.

Was he right?  Well, he didn’t talk as much about what’s in my head as much as he gave advice to churches as they worked to hire a youth pastor and shaped their expectations.

Rather than giving an overall review, I would like to take a couple of posts and talk about some great sections.  Generally though, I think youth pastors, senior pastors, and other church staff folks should buy and read this book.

In chapter 22, called the vacume Riddle writes:

The weaknesses of your church as a whole will almost invariabley be present in your youth ministry as well.  If your church struggles with finding volunteers, lack of follow through, laziness, or consumerism, you’ll find those same traits in the youth ministry.  LIkewise, the stregths that characterize your church will be found in the youth ministry, too.  If your church gives sacraficially, then it’s likely your youth ministry will give sacraficially too. -154

So often youth ministries are looked to as a place where the energy or change is going to come from.  I think Mark is really on to something here, that the youth ministry does not exist in a vacume.  The other point that he is making here (though he doesn’t do so explicitly) is that the young people in our youth ministry have and are learning more about faith from their parents than from the youth minister.  Therefore, the students in the youth ministry are going to reflect the faith of their parents very strongly.

I hope I don’t come across as complaining or whining.  This is actually quite the advantage.  Isn’t it good news that our kids are going to reflect our faith?  I think this is also an important insight for us to keep in mind as we seek to build a program, to not be discouraged when there seem to be unexplainable forces holding developments back.

Finally I would say that I have seen examples of this being untrue.  One of the great joys of youth ministry is that it can serve as a miniature labratory for ministries or developments of the larger church body.  There is often an enthusiasm and close community that is present in the youth ministry simply because of their developmental place or the time spent together.  So, sometimes the youth ministry can be a catalyst to change the congregation.  I have seen this happen when young people begin finding the joy of community or the joy of service and tell their story to the congregation.  The rest of the congregation then gets excited and follows the lead of the students.

While I have seen this to be both true and untrue, I think it is important to keep this at the center of your consciousness as a youth minister.  Youth ministry does not and should not exist in a vacume or silo.

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