By: Adam Tyson
What is a Youth Pastor?
Where do you find the position of a youth pastor in the Bible? You don’t. For that matter, where do you find an associate pastor, worship pastor, or children’s pastor in the Bible? You won’t find those descriptions in the Bible either. So are we justified biblically to have in the church today such a thing as a youth pastor? I believe we are because I believe that a youth pastor is a pastor. There are many passages throughout New Testament explaining the office and job description of a pastor.
We see the biblical qualifications of a pastor in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. We understand that the pastor is called to preach the word in 2 Timothy 4:2. We learn that a pastor is to shepherd the flock of God in 1 Peter 5:1-5. My belief is that anyone who calls himself a pastor should have the godly character, the ability to preach, and the heart of a shepherd. It makes no difference if you are the senior pastor or one of the other pastors at the church, this is what pastors do. They pastor.
A Youth Pastor should be an Expositor
Therefore as a pastor, the youth pastor should be biblically qualified. He stands in a long line of godly men from the time of the apostles to the pastors of the early church, from the time of the Reformers of the Protestant Reformation to the great Puritan preachers. What is a youth pastor to be doing? If a youth pastor is a pastor, the question could equally be asked, “What is a pastor to be doing?” As we have already said, a pastor is to preach the Word and shepherd the flock. This is the same thing a youth pastor should be doing.
The youth pastor is to be a faithful expositor of the Word of God. Expository preaching is explaining the biblical text in its context and then exhorting the present day listener to follow the timeless principles found in Scripture. You may think that sounds too difficult or complex for youth ministry. But if young people today are expected to be held to high standards in pre-calculous, chemistry, and foreign languages, then I believe we should have a high level of exception when it comes to students learning the Bible. Let’s raise the bar in youth ministry and stop pretending like we are teaching a kindergarten class when we are teaching young men and women in youth ministry and therefore we expect them to want to understand the Bible and to live it out.
A youth pastor should be feeding the flock and protecting them from danger. The youth pastor should been tasked by the plurality of elders to focus his ministry primarily on the youth group. That is his primary flock. He is to be about the ministry of the Word and prayer (Acts 6:4). The youth pastor should also be held accountable by and even aided by the elder team to carry out his work. So many youth pastors today feel it is their job to be an events coordinator, a comedian, a best friend, or someone who goes against the grain. A youth pastor is to be a spiritual encourager and a faithful mentor, but also a truth-speaking shepherd. A youth pastor is to point others to Christ and to teach young people how to understand and apply the Bible.
A Youth Pastor should be Elder-qualified
A youth pastor should either be an elder or an elder in training depending on his spiritual maturity and the wisdom of that local group of elders. In other words, the elders should seek to hire a young man who is either already elder-qualified or one who is aspiring to be an elder. The youth pastor can be a seminary graduate who has been ordained and ready to be in full-time ministry or he could be a young man who is training either in a Bible college, seminary, or by the elders of that local church. Either way, the point is that he sees himself as a pastor who is responsible to preach the Word and shepherd the flock. With this in mind, the youth pastor should be able, with God’s help, to preach in the main pulpit, counsel youth and their parents, and lead any other ministries in the church. The youth pastor could be called upon to officiate a wedding, perform a funeral, or help carry out a baptism service. A youth pastor is a pastor. He should be completely like-minded with the senior pastor and totally on board with the philosophy of ministry for the whole church.
A Youth Pastor should be a Spiritual Resource for Families
A youth pastor is not an enemy of the family but an incredible spiritual resource to the family. Parents are never to abdicate their responsibility to disciple their own children. If you are a parent and you are anything like me, you are thankful for as much help as you can get. I lead our family in devotions. I pray with my kids. We help them read their Bibles and memorize scripture. We talk to them about how to please God with a happy heart. I try to walk them through the gospel each time I discipline them in love. But I am thankful for the children’s ministry at our church which works hard to teach our kids the Bible as well. I look forward to the day when I can put them in a God-honoring youth ministry. When I first came to the church where I served as a youth pastor for almost eight years, one father looked at me and said, “We don’t need you here. I can disciple my own kids.” After attending our youth ministry with his children he changed his mind. I have sat down and counseled with this family in some of the most crucial times of their lives and they have been so thankful. As a youth pastor my job is not to take away the loyalty of the student’s heart towards their parents but rather encourage students to be grateful for their parents and to open up to them and obey them in all things (Eph 6:1‒3).
A Youth Pastor is a Discipler
A youth pastor should see the young people in the youth group as potential missionaries to reach their culture for Jesus Christ. He ought to be preparing them to evangelize a lost and dying world. There ought to be events they can bring their friends to. A youth pastor should go up on the campuses of the local Junior High, High School, and colleges in the area. He should help students be involved in reaching their community, serving their community, and being an example in the community. How can a youth pastor reach all these goals? Is it by meeting with one student, one at a time? Is it by spending lots of time with the students through various activities? Is it by coordinating a great list of youth events throughout the summer when the students are bored? I believe the best way a youth pastor can impact the students in his youth group is by preaching the Word. At the end of the day, that’s it. All the other things mentioned can be good and have their place, but none of it compares with the preaching of the Word of God. Expository preaching is discipling youth and showing them that God’s Word matters.
This is a guest post by Dr. Adam Tyson. Dr. Adam Tyson is the pastor of Placerita Bible Church in Newhall, CA. Dr. Tyson has years of youth ministry experience and has completed a dissertation on expository preaching in youth ministry.