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“I Should Have Been Doing Most of What I Did as a Student Pastor”

I followed a living legend in Kenton Beshore when I became senior pastor of Mariners Church six months ago. I have enjoyed learning from Kenton and I look forward to learning more from him. He said something in a meeting the other day that resonated with me and challenged me. He was speaking about his transition from student ministry to becoming the senior pastor of Mariners, and he said he finally realized he “should have been doing most of what he did as a student pastor.” He realized most of the effective aspects of student ministry were fully transferable to being the pastor of the church, and that when he was not applying principles from student ministry in attempts to “be grown up or formal,” he was not leading as effectively as he could.

“I Should Have Been Doing Most of What I Did as a Student Pastor”

Here are four aspects of student ministry that should be transferred to leading the whole church:

1. Adventures and Risks

Kenton said the trips he led for adults became more effective when he started applying the lessons from leading a great mission trips or camp for students. He designed moments of risk to pull people out of their comfort zones, knowing that discomfort is a catalyst for spiritual growth. He designed moments for reflection, where people would discuss what that Lord has taught them. Adventures and risks should not be limited to student ministry; ministry leaders must design those moments for the whole church.

2. A Focus on Relationships

Effective student ministry is highly relational—connecting students to other students and to godly leaders. But it is not only student ministry that should focus on relationships. All effective ministry is relational because our faith is relational with God and communal with one another. It is a grave blunder to think ministry becomes more informational and less relational as people age.

3. Teaching That Is for Tomorrow

As a former student pastor I know how important it is to teach students in a way that helps them realize that the faith, the Scripture and our God is for them and for them tomorrow—not just for them in the future. This is true for big people too! Yes, we must teach the text and point people to Jesus, but we must do so in a way that shows we know and believe Jesus and the Scripture are for tomorrow morning.

4. Creativity and Fun

Should a church have moments of fun, moments of laughter? Should a family? Should a family laugh together, play together and enjoy life together? Of course. If you believe a church is a family (and it is), then you should believe a church should share moments of fun and laughter together. Student ministry leaders know this. Sometimes us senior pastors can forget it, and we shouldn’t.

This article originally appeared here. 

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Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, he served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary and has authored or co-authored several books, including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. He is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.