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What Key Qualities Should Youth Pastors Have?

A friend of mine recently asked me, “What are the key qualities I would look for in a youth pastor?”… 

Well, it’d be lame for me to answer as a youth pastor by making a list that is not also one that I’m trying to embody myself.  So, here’s both what I’d be looking and who I’m trying to be:


by default, the youth pastor is almost never calling the shots for the whole church.  Even if they have some key influence you’re going to need someone who can lead and build a team as a champion of a mission that is not solely their own. 


I’d want to bring in someone who has a dream that is something close to “inviting a generation to understand, own, and live out a life changing faith in Jesus.” It doesn’t have to be those words, but I’d be looking for someone who has a passion to build a ministry that champions something close to that.  


I think we need youth pastors that actually love students and not just the job. They have to want to disciple and not just entertain or gather students. 


We need pastors who know their own stuff stinks and have grace for others when they fail.  We don’t need anymore plastic pastors with a painted on smile and a Jesus sticker on their car.  We need real faith lived out in the real world where some days go good and some days do not.

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Brian Berry is a proven veteran of student ministry. He serves as the generation ministries pastor at Journey Community Church near San Diego, California, where he works directly with the high school ministry and oversees a staff that is responsible for infants through teens. Brian is also a frequent blogger, writes and teaches for youth workers, and is the author of both As for Me and My Crazy House and Criticism Bites. He speaks at various conferences, camps, and retreats for a variety of audiences. He is married to Shannon, and they have five kids.