Mark Oestreicher, a distant youth ministry mentor of mine, recently wrote a post I hope you will read called the coming era of non-professional youth ministry. Things are changing in the youth ministry landscape. Not every church is opting to hire a staff member to just focus on reaching teens. Not every church has a full time position for their student pastor. Just like every other pastoral postion in the church, roles are being evaluated. Some people are being let go and some people are getting new jobs that meet the needs of the church in 2012. These are days of change and youth ministry is not exempt from the shift. One thing I know for sure is that God will continue to lead and gift people to invest in the lives of teenagers. Another truth is that God calls people to be pastors, to ministry not just to be youth pastors. If you serve on a church staff you are called to be a pastor not just an age group leader. People who serve on church staffs better begin to undertsnad that our role is to fight for the church and Kingdom of God not just our ministry area. The days of building a seperate youth ministy kingdom as an attachement to the church are coming to an end. If you want to do that then please go plant a church or launch a non-profit organization focused on teens. Youth ministry in the future is going to be about making disciples, reaching the unreached, empowering the local church, and partnering with parents. If you feel like God has created you to invest your life in the next generation then these are your next steps...
- Don't worry about your title // your title might look a little crazy in the future. I have never "just" been the student pastor here at my church because I have been doing multiple things to advance the mission of my church. I love serving teens but I do many things here in my church.
- Add VALUE to your team // be willing to not only lead your ministry to grow but help your church to grow. Be willing to partner with differnent ministries in your church to make things better. As a leader called to the next generation you have insight your team needs and gifting that other ministries in your church need.
- Become a better pastor and servant leader // understand you can't live in a silo you build. You are a pastor on a church staff so step in and begin to invest in people and serve where your senior pastor needs you to.
- Grow up // seriously get organized, start reading, keep learning, stay humble, and add disipline to your life. There will soon be no place to hide for people who are not willing to work hard and grow up. Be the best person, parent, spouse, and pastor you can possibly be. God will always open doors for people who are hard workers and gifted leaders.
- Stay focused // reach teens, invest in teens, mentor teens, and push teens to serve in your local church. This is what we do and their will always be a need for it. Teens are not the future of the church, they are the church.