Long before I was full time with Dare 2 Share God blessed me with the privilege of being a church planter and preaching pastor. During this decade of local church ministry I was able to, not only lead a young man to Christ, but disciple him and watch him grow into the role of the full time youth pastor at our church. It was a joy to see a disciple make disciples who made disciples.
Since then I have ministered to thousands of youth leaders across the nation through Dare 2 Share conferences and countless other youth leader training events. Over the years I have had many youth leaders open up to me about their awkward, strained, cold, non-existent or great relationship with the lead pastor of their church. Many have shared with me in moments of brutal honesty and vulnerability what they really want and need from their pastor.
If you are a pastor I encourage you to put these 5 things into practice in your relationship with your youth leader. They will help build trust with your youth leader and, most likely, provide some much needed kingdom momentum, not only for the youth group, but for your entire church.
Here are the 5 things your youth leader wants (and needs) from you:
1. They want to be encouraged by you!
Youth ministry is a tough job without a ton of pay. It comes with a whole lot of pressure and very little recognition.
And it's often a battle to keep teenagers' attention! Think about how it would feel like to have 30 twitchy middle schoolers, all jacked up on Red Bull and Mountain Dew, Snap Chatting and giggling all through your sermon every week. Meanwhile the elder board is complaining about the stains the youth group left on the carpet in the foyer while the pressure to get parents involved in shepherding their own teens is getting more and more frustrating.
Consistently encouraging your youth leader goes a long way in helping them succeed. Notes, verbal compliments and even popping in their office with their favorite Starbucks drink from time to time can provide emotional fuel in their tank to keep on going when things get discouraging.
2. They want to be challenged by you.
Believe it or not most youth leaders like to be pushed a bit. Like a great coach who challenges his players to win the game you can lovingly raise the bar for youth ministry by challenging them to grow it deeper and wider.
Challenge them to reach more of the unreached. Challenge them to disciple more of the reached. Encourage them to raise up the right kind of leaders who live out a lifestyle of prayer, evangelism and disciple multiplication. Lovingly and boldly push them to get Gospelized, both personally and professionally.
3. They want you to show them how.
It's not enough to encourage and challenge them. You must show them how to do ministry more effectively.
Do you take time to train your youth leader how to be better as a leader? How to develop better sermons? How to grow in their prayer life? How to raise up other leaders? How to share their faith and equip their teenagers to do the same?
Motivation minus information and application leads to frustration. So don't just encourage, equip! For help (specifically in the area of equipping them to evangelize) check out the many resources dare2share.org.
4. They want you to have their back.
The more your youth leaders reach out the more they are exposing themselves to complaints from "those" key leaders at your church who don't want "those" kinds of kids in your church. But you must have their back! You must defend your youth leaders by saying something like, "Aren't these the types of teens that Jesus came to save? After all as Jesus said in Luke 5:32, 'I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance'."
Have your youth leader's back in staff meeting, in the elders meetings, in every meeting.
5. They want you to pray for them.
Do you pray for your youth leader on a consistent basis? If not, then I encourage you to start! Pray that God keeps your youth leader pure, gives them wisdom to shepherd teens well and boldness to reach teenagers all across your community with the Gospel.
Teenagers usually come to Christ quicker and spread the Gospel faster than adults so Satan will target your youth leader and try to keep him/her from effectively reaching and mobilizing teenagers for the Gospel.
As Jesus told Peter, "Satan has asked for permission to sift you like wheat but I have prayed for you." Peter, the oldest member of the twelve disciples, was being targeted by Satan. The Devil knew that, by taking Peter out, he could make the other disciples falter. But Jesus prayed for Peter.
In the same way Satan wants to sift your youth leader like wheat! He knows that if he can destroy your youth leader he may be able to destroy your youth ministry too. So join Jesus in praying for your youth leader!
Your role as a pastor is important, not just for your congregation, but for your entire staff. Shepherd your team, including your youth leader, well and the benefits will be changed lives and exponential Gospel advancement!
These are 5 things youth leaders want (and need) from their pastor. What are some other things that I may have missed in this post?