The Teen Decade and the Role of the Youth Pastor

Over the past few weeks I have been asked many times about the role of the Youth Pastor/Youth Leader in the American church. I believe the role of the Student Pastor is going to increase with the rise of the importance of youth in our culture. It is a pressing fact that youth are increasing in importance in our day. From marketing and advertising initiatives, the rise of youth entertainment ICONS, and the social media movement, youth have become the focal point of our American culture.

So, here are my general thoughts and qualifications about the kind of Student Pastoral leadership that is necessary as we move into The Teen Decade:

  • The Student Pastor administrates and develops all facets of student ministries under the Lead Pastor's vision. This position is both internal and external in focus and impact. Focusing primarily on student services, relationships, preaching and teaching, events/activities, small groups, outreach, and discipleship.
  • The Student Pastor is the main visionary working with volunteers under the Lead Pastor’s vision. This position is responsible for planning, coordinating, overseeing, and evaluating the spiritual formation of the programming and activities for the student ministries.
  • To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to model biblical and social character and integrity consistently. 
  • There are elementary competencies that are required to be an effective Student Pastor. These core competencies include cultural and social knowledge, people skills, critical thinking skills, and organizational and administrative skills.
Aside from these general understandings, here are several other helpful leadership traits for the Student Pastor:

Bachelor's degree (B. A.) from a four-year college or university; or one to two years related experience and/or training; or equivalent combination of education and experience.

The Student Pastor should be one of the leading sociologists on the planet, able to discern and articulate the developing trends and futurist movements in culture

Ability to read, analyze, and interpret general business documents and forms.  A strong interpersonal skill, preaching and teaching methods, and the ability to relate to today's youth culture is important. Ability to effectively present philosophy and information, as well as to respond to questions from youth, parents, staff or congregation. 

REASONING ABILITY Ability to define problems, collect data, establish facts, solve problems, and draw valid conclusions.

SKILLS AND ABILITIES The successful candidate must be a Christian and fully support the theology and philosophy of the church and its leadership team.  This individual's commitment to Christ will be evidenced in his/her personal life, family relationships, and ministry.  The Student Pastor must understand the maturity levels and characteristics of teens and the challenges they face today. 

A beginning understanding of what it takes to work efficiently and effectively in individual or team situations.  Must possess solid time management skills, organizational abilities, and the ability to coordinate several activities at once and to quickly analyze and resolve problems in programming with other departments in mind. 

PHYSICAL DEMANDS The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

The ideal candidate should be creative, have a passion and heartfelt concern for teens and leaders, be a high energy motivator, and be able to inspire others. 

Let me end with a number of other things to keep in mind that are quite practical in scope:

General Responsibilities in the church

1.       Attend weekly staff meetings, church services, and all-church events as assigned

2.       Attend and report upon the activities, achievements, and progress of the youth programs at the  annual business meeting

3.       Participate with the pastoral staff in ministry to the congregation, home visitation, discipleship,   outreach, and hospital visitation as assigned

4.       Assist the pastoral staff in planning special all-church events

5.       Manage weekly office hours (40) and frequent community involvement hours (10)

6.       Communicate to the Lead Pastor about developments and progress of the student ministry on a monthly basis through personal meetings or by form submission and summary reports

7.       Assist with other duties as assigned by the Lead Pastor


General Responsibilities to the Student Ministries Department

1.      Participate in planning and conducting general meetings and services for students

2.      Develop and implement programs that attract un-churched youth to Christ and promote spiritual growth among the churched students

3.      Lead a structured prayer movement that trains and involves students in intercession

4.      Direct the use of program materials, equipment, supplies, and space utilization by the youth

5.      Plan and coordinate special events (retreats, camps, mission projects and trips, district events, etc.) that touch all youth at various levels of spiritual maturity, within the goals and objectives of evangelism, worship, fellowship, discipleship, and ministry

6.      Budget the Youth department and prepare an annual budget that is reflective of the goals and objectives of the ministry

7.      Lead the youth ministry staff (paid or volunteer) as they share the vision and goals for student ministry to the church and the community

8.      Develop healthy relationships with parents and guardians of all youth, providing resources for them to assist in their growth as Christian parents and to counsel with them when needed

9.      Stay current with youth cultural trends/resources and develop community relationships that can  help the Student Pastor to advise the church on adolescence

10.   Review and evaluate all staff, volunteers, and materials used in the area of youth ministry

11.   Be a visible support to the students and parents whenever possible

12.   Develop and administer programs to recruit and equip adults to work within the youth programs and serve as an ongoing resource to adult leaders for materials, ideas, and coordination

13.   Develop and lead a program of active outreach and follow-up to the youth of the community (including schools and other area’s youth are attracted to)

14.   School and campus infiltration and involvement through relationships, athletic events, theatre/drama, band, coaching, service projects, or crisis intervention

15.   Community involvement with para-church and district organizations that promote ministry to youth internally and externally