Youth Ministry as a Lifelong Calling

I received an email the other day from a church who was asking some questions about a friend who they were considering to be their pastor.

The email included something that caught my eye. Here is part of the email that I found interesting:

We have a strong and very gifted youth pastor who we all love dearly. We know, some day, he will move on to probably, a pastor position. In your opinion, is (my friend’s name) gifted in the area of mentoring?

This was probably one of the worst things you can write in an email to me. I understand that their question has nothing to do with youth ministry, but the wording of the sentence tells me a lot about their thoughts about youth ministry and youth pastors.

It reads like they think that one day their youth pastor will “grow up” and “move on” to a “real pastor position.” This, in my opinion, reflects the attitude of many when it comes to youth ministry. For many, youth ministry is a stepping stone to “real ministry” or a “real job.” It’s something you do as you wait to mature into a “pastor.”

But youth pastors ARE pastors. We are called by God. We do have responsibilities that require pastoral leadership. We are equal in calling and only subordinate in role. God has called us to pastoral ministry.

I strongly believe that I will be working in youth ministry my whole life. Maybe God will change my understanding of what He has called me to, but please don’t make it sound like I’m just waiting around for a real calling.

(Photo by: Aslan on flickr)

One Response to “Youth Ministry as a Lifelong Calling”

  1. Darryl Gregerson June 25, 2009 at 3:54 pm #

    Dennis– I totally agree. Most people look at childrens or youth pastors as a lower position, or one that someone who is less spiritual could fill. What does that say about how much they value their children? You know the statistics, more children/youth give their lives to Christ than adults do, so evangelistically speaking the act of a youth pastor is more important for God's Kingdom than any other. Plus our youth will adapt to discipleship better while they are at an age that their beliefs and life patterns are not hard set. I am not sure how to correctly change this dangerous mis-perception, but I wanted to let you know I agree. God Bless you, your ministry, and those you are called to serve.

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