The problem with America and pretty much the world today is that everyone has their roles confused. Children aren’t obedient to their parents, wives are not submissive to their husbands, husbands are not the leaders in the home, the government takes more and more responsibility for raising kids, and people are even confused what gender God made them to be. This creeps into the church as well. A church member doesn’t like what he hears so he threatens withhold his tithe if the pastor doesn’t change his message or sister so and so wants more authority in the choir, and sometimes the youth pastor builds the youth department to himself.
Here are some things that happen when talking about the youth pastor building a youth group to himself:
1. A man is fresh out of college and thinks about his youth pastor and how much respect he had for him, so inadvertently he wants HIS teens to respect HIM just as much. He does a great job but is sure to let the kids know about all the work HE does. The kids are drawn to him, his enthusiasm and his genuine heart…
2. A man has spent some time, enough time with his pastor to realize that he is not perfect and over time his flaws are magnified. (Sometimes someone brings them to your attention, sometimes they are legitimate concerns) Whether out of pride or even genuine concern the youth pastor begins handling everything personally. Never directing the teens to the pastor, never letting him in on problems he is working through. He makes himself the hero
3. A man is arrogant, he is self-obsorbed and only views this job as a stepping stool to his pastor’s job or his own “opportunity”
(*disclaimer) This story could be tweaked and changed but the end result is still the same- the youth pastor makes the Youth Department about HIM and points the teens to HIMSELF instead of the pastor.
Why does this matter?
The pastor is the authority of the church and that includes the youth department. God has ordained 3 institutions and one of them is the local church (BTW- A proper youth dept will direct the teenager to obey the leaders of these 3 institutions.) Who is the leader of the church? Eph 5:23 Christ is the head of the church, but 1 Peter 5:1-4 says the pastor is the under shepherd and should feed the flock and take oversight thereof. While God is the head, the man in charge of the church, the WHOLE church, is the pastor. God always deals with His people through His man… that man is the pastor. He, not you, will answer to God for all the ministries of the church. Therefore, an important part of the foundation for the youth dept should be the PASTOR, not just the youth pastor. The pastor cannot serve in every ministry of the church. Sometimes he must delegate! I understand that there are some churches where it seems like the pastor has to do everything but that is not usually the case. HE CANT DO EVERYTHING
- He is not preaching and working the nursery.
- He cannot teach every Sunday School class.
- Usually he will bring someone in so that person can help him with the youth of the church.
But even though he has delegated a responsibility to someone, they have to understand that he is still the authority. The pastor must be and will be the one who sets the tone for the youth dept.
I have talked to youth pastors who want to set a tone for their youth department without one time talking to their pastor as to what he would like to see. The first thing any youth pastor should do is sit down with the pastor and ask him a couple things. This should be done BEFORE you accept the position.
Here are some of the questions to ask the pastor:
Standards? – Youth department dress standards, Bible college, teen dating, camp/conferences?
Success? – Bible college for 1 year, ministry, laymen?
Schedule? – Activities, visitation, classes, his involvement?
If this is a meeting you have not had then you need to go home and have this meeting! Decide if these are choices that you can live with, if not then LEAVE. Always defer to your pastor if there is a difference of opinions. Remember, he is the one that will answer to God for all the ministries of the church, not you.
This is what I’ve seen:
Higher standard than the pastor- you will beat your head against the wall when you institute rules that your pastor doesn’t back. There WILL BE a time when you don’t see eye to eye with a parent and guess who the parent will go to if they understand Biblical authority? The pastor. If it is a standard he has put in place then he will back you 100%. (Praise the Lord for that) If not, you are out on a limb all by yourself. (Not fun)
Lower standard than the pastor- you are being disloyal and are sowing seeds of doubt in their minds when they hear the pastor preach one thing and then hear you explain it away or just blatantly ignore him. You are teaching them that preferences are more important than biblical stands.
It all comes down to loyalty. Will you be loyal?
The pastor needs you to have his back. Just like there are times when you will need your pastor to have your back, he will need you to have his back.
Actively point to your pastor as the authority. You need to verbally back your pastor in all you do and say. Don’t ever let anyone talk bad about the man of God in your presence. If you disagree take care of it in private with him only. Be careful to never embarrass your pastor
People are compared to sheep in the Bible and sheep wander. They need sheep dogs to point them back to their Shepherd and under shepherd. That should be your job as the youth pastor. (Rom 13:7) People need to be taught how to honor the man of God. People need to be taught to pray for the man of God. Publicly pray for him. Preach about it. Talk to teens individually about it. Talk to parents about it. Allow the pastor to be as involved as he wants to be or can be without any push back. Different pastors are involved with the teens to different degrees. Allow that without any frustration either way. You need to talk to him about individual teens struggles, ask him for advice, allow him to counsel if he wants, and warn Him about potential problems. I want to be able to help someone if I need to, but be humble enough to allow the pastor to handle the situation if he wants to or feels the need to.
Mick Hall | Youth Pastor
Faith Baptist Church | Bourbonnais, IL