Home Youth Leaders Articles for Youth Leaders 9 Mistakes Made by Youth Pastors

9 Mistakes Made by Youth Pastors

Youth pastors are notorious for sticking their foot in their mouth.  Youth pastors blow it a lot. Here are the 9 most common mistakes made by both veteran and rookie youth pastors:

09. Mis-budgets youth ministry events

It seems like youth pastors are not very good with money, so we can never make a dime when putting on an event.  Somehow, if a youth pastor is planning an activity, they will lose money.  If you are youth pastor who is great at accounting, please contact me.

08.  Doesn’t take their critics seriously

Nine out of 10 times, if someone does not like us or our youth ministry strategy, we write them off.  We get very angry at them and say a lot of unChristian stuff about their lazy student and their bad parenting.  You can still say that stuff, but do it in a safe place and give them a call asking them why they don’t like you.  At times, this can be really unproductive, and regardless what you say/do, they will still not like you.  Getting mad is fine, just don’t sin.  

07.  Loves students, doesn’t love God

Students don’t need anymore “friends.”  They actually really don’t want your friendship.  They need more adults passionately following Jesus.  Sometimes, youth pastors reverse the greatest commandment:  Love People, Love God.  

06.  Adores their youth ministry mission and vision statement

Youth pastors love showing off their youth ministry value statement.  Students don’t really care about your fancy-pithy vision statement.    

05.  Neglects the value of church

Many youth pastors alienate their youth ministry from church.  It is really hard working the bigger church.  It is so much easier doing things by ourselves.  Things get done quicker and more efficiently.  However, Scripture clearly commands the youth ministry department to get along with big church.

04.  Underestimates adult leader recruitment

Again, youth pastors like to fly solo.  Why waste so much energy developing leaders? It is difficult hearing NO from someone we know will be a great youth leader.  It seems like the people who want to really help are only wanting to help for selfish reasons.  My advice:  keep asking and praying God brings you more leaders.   

03.  Doesn’t pursue and cultivate a relationship with senior pastor/senior leadership

Our assumption:  Senior pastors do not have time for youth pastors, so why should youth pastors pursue a relationship?  We are the children, so why should we seek a relationship with our parents?  Well….because it will drastically help at a personal connection level with your boss and establish a synergy within the staff.

02. Does not serve the good of the community and school

Youth ministries enjoy staying in-house.  A youth ministry can become a lot more complacent when it is inward focused.  Give a call up to your local school and ask them what their needs are.  Your students spend more time on the school campus than they do on your church campus.  If your students are spending more time on your church campus, you have bigger problems to worry about.

01. Neglects a constant refining of character

Not enough youth pastors take a long and deep look inside their soul.  Many are not feeding their soul.  Some youth pastors jump from job to job wondering why they have the same problems with church.  Honestly, youth pastors typically come with a lot of personal baggage.  Constantly refining and developing your character is the best investment as a youth pastor.  Always ask the question of:  How am I changing–in my theology?  As a husband?  As a church leader? As an individual? Character is everything. As youth pastors, we need to take seriously our sanctification process.  Read a lot and take personal retreats….heck, even get a Christian psychologist.  Youth ministry is too damaging for one’s soul, so we need to enroll others to help us navigate the youth ministry trenches and our own issues.  Far too many times, we let our personal issues get in the way of how we do youth ministry and how we do life.  If we don’t value our own sanctification process, youth pastors tend to get more angry, cynical, and bitter at church.  Youth pastors blame their church, when they should be blaming themselves.

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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.