Why It’s OK for Youth Pastors to Not Hang Out With Students

Why It's OK for Youth Pastors to Not Hang Out With Students

Now before you jump down my throat for the title, just listen.

I’m going to be real with you for a second. For the last six months as I have been in my new position as the lead next generation pastor, I have felt like an awful youth pastor. I have not hung out with a majority of my students. Do I go to events we do and interact with them? Absolutely. Do I mingle, pray for and hang out before and after services? Definitely. Am I starting to know the names of those who are on our patio before services when I go and meet everybody? Yes. I am around, they are beginning to know me, and they are beginning to leave notes on my desk (which I love), and they are asking me to hang out. For the most part, though, I hang out with a few students, but there is no way I can hang out with all of them.

I had to come to the realization that it is OK to not hang out with students. It is just a change of thinking. Looking back at my last six months, I have spent a majority of my time with our leaders. Even if your ministry is at a point where you can hang out with all your students the way you want (that is awesome because that is a gift, I wish I had the capability to do that), as you grow you will need to switch to this model quickly to be most effective. The Andy Stanley quote comes to mind as I have been wrestling with this whole thing:

“Do for one what you wish you can do for all.”

It’s a crazy thing because I got into ministry to hang out with students. As ministries grow and as we want to help students grow most effectively spiritually, we HAVE to learn how to duplicate ourselves. This is the only way our students will feel connected with our ministry, it is the only way they will grow most effectively spiritually, and it is the only way for your ministry to grow in the healthiest way.

There will come a point (maybe you are there now) where you need to switch your thinking from hanging out with students to hanging out with leaders who hang out with students…and that is OK.

I’m not saying to never hang out with students ever. That would be awful. But as leaders, there comes a point where we have to go from doing what we wish we can do (hang out with all our students) to asking the question, “What will be healthiest and best for my ministry as it grows?” I don’t know about you, but I want a healthy ministry. I know healthy things grow and I want my ministry to grow.

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Justin Knowles
Justin Knowles is the Lead Next-Gen Pastor at Christ’s Church of the Valley in San Dimas, CA. He oversees junior high, high school and college ministries at the church and is passionate about reaching students. He also blogs regularly and creates content for Downloadyouthministry.com.

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