One of the things I have always been blessed with is youth pastors who really get the value of kids’ ministry. The more I talk with kids’ pastors from around the country, the more I find out that this is far from the norm. I have heard stories that would make you laugh to stories that would make you cry and everything in between.
During the past 10 years, the word that has dominated kids’ and youth ministry culture is “family ministry.” A family pastor is something that never existed in title, although it did in function in a few churches. I believe the drive and passion for family ministry has had a powerful effect on the focus of churches when it comes to next-generation ministry. The beautiful side benefit of this drive has been a much-needed closing of the relational gap between youth pastors and kids’ pastors. It is by no means complete, but it is far closer today than it was even eight years ago.
That being said, here are three things I think every kids’ pastor wants their youth pastor to know.
1. The success of my ministry is determined by the health of yours. – One of the biggest mistakes any church can make is creating ministry silos. Ministry happens best in healthy, highly relational environments. Too many kids’ pastors try keep kids longer than they should; too many youth pastors try to attract kids sooner than they should. If the goal of our environments is solely numbers, you will manipulate people and figures to get what you want. If the ultimate goal is life-change and gospel proclamation, you will care more about the health of the environment in which you are ministering the kids.
2. I want the same things as you. – Rather than fight for cool points (a fight kids’ pastors will lose to a youth pastor every time), how about sitting down, sharing a cup of coffee and sharing with each other what your dream for your ministries are? In most cases you will find that you are both fighting for the same thing. If you both equally value the gospel, you will celebrate and even learn from the differing methods to communicate and transfer that value to the kids and families you serve.
3. My job is just as hard as yours just in a different way. – Being a kids’ pastor is hard. Being a youth pastor is hard. They are both hard in a different way. The children‘s pastor must ground children biblically. They must do so at multiple age levels at once; as a result, they must learn to manage multiple environments and multiple groups of volunteers. Kids’ pastors have to balance safety, fun, security and gospel clarity. Kids’ pastors understand that the issues youth pastors face are very serious, but youth pastors need to understand that to a kid losing a pet is as serious a loss as losing a girlfriend or boyfriend is to a 15-year-old. Preparing to speak to teenagers every week is difficult, but so is preparing 4-20 people to speak each week.