The photo above teaches student pastors a few important lessons. Before I point out a few of those lessons let me share a little about the photo. The band playing on stage is the Beatles. The Beatles where the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed act in the rock music era. They exploded and became one of, or not the most, famous music groups of all time. You wouldn’t think that from this photo. This photo captures their first show in London in 1961. This was before they became big. This was before people knew who they were. I’m sure at the time of this photo they never knew or expected how big they would really become. But that didn’t stop them. This is what one blogger says, “The crowd for the Beatles first show in London was especially disappointing. Yet, despite the fact that only 18 people showed up, the Beatles were undeterred. Rather than giving the small crowd a lackluster performance, the Beatles used the opportunity to “play as if they were tied.”. They gave the modest audience the same level of energy and enthusiasm they would eventually give to over 50,000 fans at New York’s Shea Stadium.” So what does this have to do with student ministry and student pastors? I’m so glad you asked!
I believe this photo offers encouragement and a reminder to student pastors. First, it offers encouragement for those student pastors in small churches with very few students in their ministry. Many times student ministry becomes a competition. It becomes about growing your student ministry bigger and better than the one down the street. Or the fact you keep comparing yourself and ministry to another student pastor and his ministry that you see online. This leaves most student pastors discouraged and prideful. The bottom line is most student ministries are not big. Most are small and consist of a handful of students. But this shouldn’t matter! To my student pastor friends who have a “small” student ministry, keep doing what your doing! Serve, love, and teach those few students about Jesus and His Word! Stop worrying about getting big, start giving your time and energy to what you do have. God has given you those students and ministry for a reason. Your called to give yourself to that group because you love them and you love Jesus.Work with what you go and be faithful!
Second, this photo is a reminder of what student ministry is all about. It’s not about numbers! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s wrong to grow large numerically as a ministry and to strive for that. I believe numbers the majority of the time is the result of faithful, excellent ministry. But not always. God may never intend for your ministry to grow “large.” It may stay small and God will still get the glory and students will still learn God’s Word. If all you do is focus on numbers than you will miss out on serving the students you do have.
Student ministry is about Jesus and students. Student pastors must work with what God has given them. If God has blessed you with a large student ministry than be thankful, serve well, and love those students. But if God has given you a small ministry than don’t be discouraged. Serve, love, and pour into the students you got. In His time I believe God will grow your ministry if He wills. If He does, amen! If He does not, amen! God is sovereign and has called you to serve, love, and pour into the students He has given you.
Last week I wrote a post about why you should do interviews with students that want to go on your student ministry mission trip. Interviews with students that want to go on your trip helps you set a serious tone for the trip, evaluate where they are spiritually, and allows you to get to know them better.
If your going to have effective interviews with your students than you need to have good questions planned going into the interviews. You want to ask questions that help you evaluate the spiritual health of the student as well as get a feel for what they will bring to the team of students going on the trip. I want to share with you the five interview questions I asked each of my students that signed up to go on our upcoming summer missions trip.
Can you explain the Gospel?
Tell me about your experience in coming to faith in Christ?
What are you currently doing to grow spiritually?
What motivated you to go on this trip?
Do you see yourself as a leader or a follower?
I don’t claim these are the perfect questions, but they are questions that helped me see where the students where spiritually as well as get a feel for how they will fit into the team of students going on this trip. Even though you have five questions prepared, you may end up asking many more and that’s ok. These questions are meant to bring structure and a smooth flow to your interviews. I hope these help you as you interview students going on your next student ministry mission trip.
One of the things I love to do here on my blog is open up the opportunity for others to write a guest post. I don’t want my voice to be the only voice heard on this blog. I want the voices of other people on my blog offering up fresh insight into student ministry, leadership, and culture. If your interested in being one of those voices than here are a few things I ask of everyone who writes a guest post for me.
Write a post related to student ministry, leadership, or culture. These are the three major areas I focus on here on my blog. About 90% of all my stuff is written to student pastors and student ministry workers. I’d ask that you either write about something pertaining to student ministry or the other two areas I focus on here on my blog being leadership and culture.
Keep the post between 500-700 words. I don’t like my posts to go over 700 words and I don’t like them any shorter than 500 words. If you write a post for me keep the wording in that frame.
Include a two or three sentence bio. Include a short bio that highlights what you do, where your from, and something random about you like why you do what you do. I will place the bio at the bottom of your guest post. Also, if you have your own blog or website please include a link to it within your bio. I am also ok with linking to your Twitter or Facebook if you allow.
Email it to me in a Word doc. Once you write the post, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org in a Word doc. format.
Youth ministry is a vital part of the body of Christ. It’s not something that should be taken lightly, and those whom God has entrusted with this task are both privileged and held to a high standard of obedience. Youth ministry should be more than “fun and games” and God calls His people (including students) to a much higher standard than that. When it comes to being a youth pastor some may say, ““Don’t all you have to do is be good with kids, and keep them busy?” but there’s honestly so much more to it than that. God wants “faithful men” (2 Tim. 2:2) who will serve His church by reaching the lost and equipping those who believe. In order to do this, a youth pastor must be prepared himself. I would argue that someone entering into/already in vocational youth ministry should highly consider training at the seminary level, and pursue it if possible. There’s so much more to youth ministry than we realize, and training as a leader in God’s church is something that must be taken seriously. Here’s a few reasons to consider seminary if you are in (or will one day be in) youth ministry:
So you can accurately teach students the bible. A youth pastor’s job isn’t simply to create energy-filled, adrenaline-laced events or play crazy, fun, and sometimes straight up gross icebreaker games. A youth pastor’s primary responsibility is to teach students the Bible. This takes a lot of time and energy to be done right, but it’s what God expects of those who are leading His church, and youth ministry is no exception. Acts 6:4 speaks of the apostles delegating other responsibilities to deacons so they could devote themselves to prayer to the ministry of the word. In order to know how to study God’s Word, one must know how to do it effectively. A seminary degree can be one of the tools that God uses to equip someone in youth ministry to do this. Never think that students aren’t intellectual enough for you to go deep with them in the Scriptures. Students go to school and they learn physics, calculus, and trigonometry, they can learn the Bible! One who goes to seminary and then goes into youth ministry has by no means wasted his degree and it should never be seen as something that can’t be applied; actually he’s been given valuable tools for youth ministry that many have not gotten the chance to receive. A youth pastor should take his responsibility of teaching the Bible seriously, and seminary will aid that ambition. The primary responsibility of a youth pastor is to study the Bible in order to accurately teach the Bible to students.
So you can effectively serve as a leader in the local church. We live in a society where education is highly esteemed. More and more organizations are requiring a college education or further schooling for their applicants. The church is no exception to this trend, and there are many churches in America that will not consider anyone applying who’s not received a seminary degree. The educational emphasis churches are placing on their candidates appears to be a growing trend, and shows that they are placing a high emphasis on the training of God’s servants. I’m not saying that this is how all churches should be, or that you won’t be an equipped pastor without a seminary degree, I’m just pointing out the reality that today’s churches place a huge emphasis on education. I personally believe this is a good thing, and that as a youth pastor, one should desire to be well equipped effectively serve in the local church.
So you can be ready for ministry after youth ministry. I love youth ministry! I sensed God calling me to this vocation my freshman year of high school. I told God I would do this, and He’s been so gracious in giving me several youth ministry opportunities so far in my life. I’m now 22, and am about to begin seminary this January. I’d love to do full-time, pastoral youth ministry until I’m 80 years old, but I know that’s probably not going to happen. There usually comes a point in a youth pastor’s career (usually around the time he turns 40) that he transitions out of youth ministry and into another ministry role. When that day arrives for me, I want to be ready for what God has for me. I want to do youth ministry as long as God allows me to, but I know there will be a day where it will be time for a new ministry phase in life. Having said that, it’s important to think long-term with your ministry career. Most likely, you won’t be a youth pastor forever, and what will God have for after that? Don’t just prepare to be a youth pastor, but prepare to be a pastor who ministers the gospel. Think not only of your role now (or the near future) as a youth pastor, but also your role as someone who will be preaching the gospel for the rest of your life! You will be doing that to students, but you will also have other opportunities speaking to other age groups, and you will most likely have a different title other than “youth pastor” on your desk one day. Seek to be well trained in the gospel for the duration of your ministry, and be ready for ministry after youth ministry.
As I mentioned earlier, youth ministry is a high calling, and should never be taken lightly. Seminary is not something you “have” to do, no one went to seminary in the Bible, but I would encourage you to highly consider it if you are in youth ministry. If you don’t think that it’s feasible, go to God about it, and ask Him what He would have you do. I personally didn’t think that it would be possible for me to attend seminary a year ago, but God worked it out for me to attend this spring. Take God’s work seriously, take the students lives in which you are ministering to seriously. Strive to do what’s best, even if it’s not what’s easiest or convenient. Love the gospel, and be passionate about training for something as big as the love of Jesus, and the fact that you get to share it!
This guest post was written by one of my best friends Mark Etheridge. Mark is currently living in Durham, NC working on a Master’s of Divinity Degree through Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.