To all the youth pastors who wish they could write this post and not lose their job, you are welcome.
I love and respect the work youth pastors do. However, I hope to help make their role obsolete during my lifetime.
Then, these talented individuals can move onto easier ministry work like curing poverty or ridding the globe of suffering. Child’s play to a battle-tested youth pastor.
I’m a father of a youth-ministry-aged son, and here’s what I know: I and other fathers like me have a responsibility (a sacred opportunity, really) to shape our sons and daughters into godly men and women. We will be accountable for how well we held up our end of this deal.
Granted, our children will need to choose the right path later. We won’t be on the hook for every decision they make into adulthood. But, we must set them on as level a course as possible.
But, you know what too many of us do?
We turn this work over to the church.
We believe our job is to drop them off on time and let the youth pastor instill godly character. And most folks in youth ministry feel like they are swimming against a tsunami of slack parenting (there, I said it).
In two hours a week, we expect them to unwind the ill effects of the other 166.
In fact, some youth ministries essentially (but unintentionally) discourage parents from volunteering in the ministry. They don’t quite know what to do with a parent who wants to engage and walk alongside their child through this crucial life stage. They look at parents like a dog looks at a fork.
And I don’t blame them for it, I sympathize with them! We men have taken such a slack approach to fathering that we have forced them to play a role they were never meant to play: surrogate parent to our children.
I think I speak on behalf of a new generation of fathers who are taking their role seriously when I say this: We apologize for putting you in that position. We will do better in the future. Invite us to play key roles in your ministry, we will come alongside you and do our part.
I hope, in my lifetime, we witness the extinction of the youth pastor role. Not because these people aren’t doing heroic work. But because the rightful owners of this role stood up and filled it.
When I’m old and gray, I want to be taking my kids to the National Museum of Youth Ministry. I want to walk past wax statues of men and women who once played that role like the telephone switchboard operator or the ice-block delivery guy.
There will be a wing dedicated to the youth pastors at my home church—they are tireless kingdom workers.
“See boys, that there is what we used to call a ‘youth pastor’! These amazing men and women of God stood up and filled a huge gap during a crucial time in our history. Those brave souls accomplished their mission and performed mighty deeds for The Lord! They also ate a lot of pizza.”
“What happened to them, Gramps?”
“Fathers happened to them, son. Fathers happened.”