Last night my Pastor, Rick Warren, spoke at our High School summer mid-week service. Because Josh Griffin is out of town, he asked me to be there to introduce Rick. In short: It was one of the highlights of my youth ministry career! Seeing the way our students engaged with their Pastor, and seeing how it energized Rick was something really wonderful to behold.
I realize that many of you serve Sr. Pastors who truly have no interest in what is happening in your youth ministry, and for that I am sorry. But I also believe that in some cases, their interest can be peaked. It is possible to slowly win the support of most Sr. Pastors. Here are a few steps you can take to help bridge the gap between you and your pastor….and your pastor and your junior highers:
1) Stick around a while. Longevity is probably the best way to build a healthy relationship between you and your senior pastor. Doug Fields served at Saddleback for 18 years, I have been here for 15, and Josh has been here for 7. Because Rick knows our commitment and loyalty to Saddleback, he is much more eager to build a relationship with our ministries.
2) Keep them in the loop. I have talked to tons of youth workers who say a version of this: “My Pastor never asks about our youth ministry…it’s like he doesn’t even care.” Perhaps. But perhaps it is our job to not wait until he/she asks! Look for ways to be proactive in communicating with your Pastor. Send an email after significant events, let him know when a student gets saved, build trust by being the first to tell her when something went wrong so she isn’t caught of guard. Take the initiative….it goes a long way.
3) Invite!Pastor Rick didn’t ask Josh if he could speak….Josh asked him! Rick showed up at our junior high camp for a day once simply because we invited him. Pastors are busy, and most aren’t looking for additional stuff to do, so inviting themselves to be part of your ministry likely isn’t on their radar. But…when you invite them, you may be surprised at their response. Even if they say no, they will be happy to have been asked.
Want to read more on this subject? Here is a great book dedicated to the Pastor/Youth Pastor relationship!