If you follow me on Twitter or are my friend on Facebook, you have probably seen that I recently resigned from my current position as student pastor at Courtney Baptist Church and will be moving to Ohio to take a new student ministries position at Christ Community Chapel. The student ministry here at Courtney Baptist, was my first official student ministry. I have been a volunteer in various student ministries and have done a few internships, but this was the first ministry I oversaw and led as the student pastor. Because of what God is doing here in this ministry and my love for the students, it was bittersweet breaking the news that I was leaving (leaving is never easy, but here is a post Josh Griffin wrote about how to go about it). It’s bittersweet because I know I am following God’s will and I’m extremely excited for what He has in store for me at CCC and my new ministry there!
When a student pastor leaves, he leaves behind students, volunteer’s, and parents that loved him and supported him. These three groups of people will face challenges until they have a new student pastor, but I’m convinced these challenges are a good thing. So whether you’re a youth worker that is working in a ministry without a student pastor or a student pastor that is leaving a church, be encouraged by these three things.
Challenges the students to focus on Jesus. Many times students are crushed when their student pastor resigns because they have built a strong relationship with him. Whenever he leaves, they feel like the youth group is going to fall apart because that student pastor is gone. But this is a great learning experience for them. This may be the season they need to understand the youth group is about Jesus not the student pastor. God can still grow and work in a youth group that doesn’t have a student pastor. This is one thought I am striving to leave in my students heads as I leave for a new ministry.
Challenges the adult volunteer’s to step up and do the ministry. If you have built a good team of adult volunteer’s while your were the student pastor, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about what will happen when you leave. Now that your gone, their the “next in command.” They are now challenged to step up and do the ministry you were doing. Many of them will be challenged to use their gifts and abilities in a way they may never have been able to with you there. Adult volunteer’s are one of the greatest assets to a student ministry whether that is under a student pastor’s leadership or not.
Challenges the parents to do their God-given job. I say this all the time on here, but God has given parents the responsibility and job to point their children to Jesus and help them grow spiritually (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). It’s not the student pastor’s job, it’s the parents job! Often times when a church has a good student pastor, parents look to them to disciple their own children. When that student pastor leaves, they can’t do this anymore. They may look to some of the adult volunteer’s, but they will be challenged to do their God-give job at discipling their child. This by far is a very good thing! As Tim Schmoyer says in his book Life in Student Ministry, “Many parents have raised their teenagers quite well without the influence of a church youth ministry.”
If a church is going to have an effective student ministry, I believe they will need a student pastor to lead it. But there will be seasons when a church has a student ministry, but not a student pastor. During these times, God can use students, volunteer’s, and parents in great ways!