3 Things Every Student Pastor MUST Do

In the past five years I have had the privilege to see a lot of different student ministries and work along side of many different student pastors. In each ministry I have seen different approaches to student ministry, but in every student ministry I have seen three things that I believe are a must for every student pastor. Whatever your doing in student ministry, I believe you MUST be doing these three things:

1. Teach students the Bible. The most important thing student pastors must do is teach students the Bible. The Word of God is the only thing that can truly change their life and help them follow God for the rest of their life. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this: I believe students need to hear good, solid expository preaching and teaching whenever they come to a youth group meeting. I’m all for small groups, which I believe are vital in student ministry (click here to see my thoughts on this), but student pastors need to teach the Bible in an expository manner to their students. Not only in large youth group gathers, students need to be taught the Bible within small groups that I believe should be a vital part of student ministry. Whatever way your ministry is set up, students have to be taught the Bible. I’m all for relationships and creative styles of discipleship, but I believe solid, Bible teaching is a must for all student pastors.

2. Train and build adult leaders. If you want a growing and healthy student ministry, you must have a team of well-trained adults to do ministry along side of you. Students pastors must spend much of their time recruiting adult leaders, training and equipping them, and giving them opportunities to serve students. In the book The Greenhouse Project, Ric Garland points out that one person can only disciple 5 to 6 students effectively. That means if your ministry has six or more students in it, you have to have adult leaders helping you. Student pastors need to spend the same amount of time building and training leaders as they do spending time with the students.

3. Minister to the parents. I believe a student pastor is not just called to serve the students, they are called to serve the parents as well. The parents are responsible for the spiritual growth of their own students so student pastors must never take that place. We must partner with the parents as we point their students to Christ. Many student pastors spend little time with parents outside just giving them information on events and activities. We as student pastors need to spend time building relationships with the parents, teaching the about the culture of their students, and equipping them with resources to train their students.

These are three things you must be doing as a student pastor. Other things are great and have their place, but we cannot allow these three things to be put on the back burner. Student pastor, teaching your students the Bible, build a healthy leadership team of adults, and always serve the parents.

3 Reasons Your Student Ministry MUST Have Small Groups

I’m encouraged by the growth and popularity of small groups in student ministries among churches today. Apart from the teaching of God’s Word, small groups seem to me to be the catalyst for students growing in their faith. A student pastor can stand before a group of students week after week and teach them the Bible, but it’s not until the students get in a small group, led by a trained and impassioned leader, that they start to really own and live what they have been hearing from the student pastor.

Unfortunately, many student ministries still don’t do small groups. Now, there are many different factors that contribute to this. Some people are limited by group size and/or availability of adult volunteers. But for others, there doesn’t seem to be any real roadblocks to introducing a small group strategy. For these folks, I’d like to offer three reasons why your student ministry really needs to have a small group strategy.

1. Jesus did it! If you read through the Gospels you’ll find that Jesus spent most of His time with twelve men. (And even within the twelve, He had a group of three He was even more intentional with.) Jesus invested His time and energy into these guys, helping them own their faith and compelling them to ultimately change their world. Yes, Jesus spent some time among the sinners, the sick, and the outcast. He met people’s needs. But the majority of His time was spent teaching the Twelve. These small group of men would carry on His work when He left. Jesus knew the importance and effectiveness in investing time into a smaller group of people rather than ton of people.

2. It is the best way to see discipleship happen. In the book The Greenhouse Project, Ric Garland says that one person can only effectively disciple five to six people. Even if you added a few people to Ric’s number, this is still a problem as the majority of youth ministries have more than six or eight students. If you’re still trying to teach your group of 20 or 30 by yourself, you’re not discipling as effectively as you could be. Consider recruiting adult volunteers and giving each one five-to-six students, encouraging and empowering them to invest their time and energy into discipling those students.

3. It gets adult leaders involved. If you take the last point I said seriously than that means you will need to have a team of adult leaders that you disciple first (they become your small group), then they will in turn disciple a group of students which becomes their small group. An effective student ministry depends on the student pastor building a team of adult leaders who invest in the students. If we want to see each student in our ministry reached, and watch them grow in their faith, we must make sure to get adults involved and to give them the training they need to invest in students’ lives.

Our student ministries are filled with students who desperately need to be challenged how to live out their faith. If we don’t get them into small groups where they feel comfortable talking, sharing, and connecting with an adult, they may end up graduating our ministries in much the same way they came in. Putting the time and effort into making small groups a part of your student ministry is worth it!

I originally wrote this post for Youth Ministry 360’s blog. Click here to view this post on their blog.