Every youth pastor in the world wants to be a good youth pastor. I am not sure any youth pastor would strive to not be a good youth pastor. We all want to be good at what we do. This is not for just pastors, but for all occupations. Everyone wants to be good at what they do. Now, I do not claim to be a perfect youth pastor. There are way more people out there who are better at being a youth pastor than I am. I make mistakes, a lot of them, but here are a few things that I am working on to become better at what I do.
• Make your personal relationship with Jesus the most important relationship—This is understood. All of us admit this is the most important, but yet it is often the most neglected. We get busy studying for sermons, planning events, going to eat with students, working on discipleship methods, and forget that we need to be personally discipled ourselves. Make a time with just you and God every single day. This is not including your Bible study time for sermons. Your time with God should be more valuable than any other relationship. When your relationship with Him is right, all other relationships fall into place.
• Commit to equipping the entire family—Family ministry is much more important to me now than when I first started out. Your job as a youth pastor is to the entire family. Many families reject this kind of thinking, but it is the truth. Try reaching the entire family. Plan events for the entire family. Plan discipleship for the entire family. Equip parents with resources to help be a more effective parent in today’s society.
• Link the student ministry and the church together—Often, youth groups tend to separate themselves from the local church. Soon, they become their own church. Look for opportunities to connect the two together. Get the students involved in the local church, not just the youth group.
• Making disciples should be your main objective—Outreach is important, and should always be in our mind, but the ultimate goal is to make disciples. When you are effectively making disciples of Jesus, outreach and other ministries fall into place.
• Educate yourself on youth culture—This is difficult. I am not drawn to secular music, but I know my students are so I feel it is my responsibility to stay up to date on today’s top pop music to know how to more effectively minister to students. I am not into video games, but I know my students are. I am not a trendy guy (in fact, I am pretty old school in the way that I dress), but I try to stay up to date on trends.
• Be missional in everything the student ministry does—Keep the mission of making disciples your main objective in the way that you do ministry. So, when you go somewhere with students, stay missional. Plan your calendar around the mission. Spend the budget around the mission. I am afraid we are doing good things, but not the main thing. Everything in our student ministry should have a purpose. Every event should have a purpose. That purpose should be the MISSION.
Look, you might feel like a complete failure as a student pastor (I feel like this sometimes too), but if you are actively pursuing the things mentioned above, you are on your way to becoming a GREAT youth pastor, so keep it up. It takes time, be patient.