The Call Of A Youth Pastor
“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” —John 21:15-17
A Troubling Story
I was sitting at a teacher’s desk, talking with a fellow youth pastor from the Baton Rouge area. We were both there to provide lunch and devotions for students at a local high school. As we were chatting about our services in our youth ministries from the week before, he boasted, “I had my kids play a game during the worship service where they had to chug a gallon of milk.”
This youth pastor went on to say how one of these kids became so sick from this game that he vomited on the stage. I sat there in disbelief at how foolish youth ministry has become.
That same Wednesday night in Crossfire, I was preaching on the vision of Ezekiel. He saw a river flowing from God’s throne. There was a man with a line in his hand calling for Ezekiel to come further out into that river (Ezek. 47:3-4). Several of our young people stepped into the river that night, and they were baptized with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues.
What Is Youth Ministry?
I regret to inform the church that youth ministry is in a terrible place and reformation is needed. That reformation begins with understanding what youth ministry is and what a youth pastor is supposed to be.
Youth ministry is simply a ministry that focuses attention on evangelizing and making disciples out of young people. The church does not have a varsity team and a junior varsity team. Regardless of age, if a person is saved, then he or she is a member of the body of Christ.
Youth ministry has not always been around; it is still considered fairly new. The concept of youth ministry matured in the early 1940s as a way for the church to reach out to teenagers in local high schools.
In the 1970s, churches began to see the need for a concentrated focus on youth and started bringing youth pastors on staff.
What A Youth Pastor Is Not
In today’s modern generation, there seems to be some confusion about what a youth pastor should be.
First, it must be understood that a youth pastor is not a volunteer position that needs to be filled. It is and must be a calling. Understandably, not every church can pay a youth pastor, but that’s not the point. The point is that a youth pastor must be called.
Youth pastors are not event coordinators, even though at times they will coordinate events. Youth pastors are not babysitters who just hang out with young people while the adults have church. Youth pastors are not called to organize events, they are not called to just fill the void, and they are not called to come up with cool games to keep young people occupied. Being a youth pastor is not a stepping-stone to bigger and greater things; it is and must be a calling.
What A Youth Pastor Is
A youth pastor is a pastor. A pastor is a calling given by God. Ephesians 4:11-12 says, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
The word pastor literally means “shepherd.” A shepherd is one who will feed the sheep, provide oversight, provide protection, and give leading and guidance. A shepherd will lay his life down to care for and protect the sheep that God entrusted to his care. The youth pastor is concerned with providing the spiritual nourishment and protection that his flock desperately needs.
Just like Jesus tells Peter in our text, “If you love Me, then I am giving you the commission to feed my sheep.” This is the same commission that Jesus is giving to youth pastors: “If you really love Me, then I am commissioning you to feed My sheep.”