the next generation of {youth} pastors


A few months back I attended two ministry conferences, and what a difference I saw between them!

One was the Youth Specialties NYWC convention and the other was my denomination’s district prayer conference.

Besides the enormous contrast in ages,  I noticed a great deal of differences between the two conferences and the “ministers” who attended.

I really am against over generalizations and stereotyping, yet….

At the district conference, the pastors carried their Bibles, did not laugh at certain jokes, only seemed to talk about theology and church ministry, prayed long and doctrinally soaked prayers, and to be brutally honest, just did not seem to have fun or enjoy their time (in my opinion)

There were other noticeable differences that probably just come with age. The preferred style of worship music and lack of understanding new technology were just two. Can you imagine that some pastors there didn’t even know what a blog was!

I thought to myself “Self, if that is what my future in ministry is going to look like, then I am out”

Also, I wondered if that was what I needed to become in order to fit in and be a “real pastor” one day.

And when do I start wearing loafers and sweaters over cotton shirts?

I like my shorts, baseball hat,  zip up sweatshirts and iphone!


OK, now that you think I am bashing pastors, I will admit that when I got to know these men, I learned a great deal from them and found myself challenged and inspired in faith and ministry.

These are wonderful men of God who, although very different from me, have a genuine love for God and love for his Church. This I respect and admire greatly.

Clearly I am not writing about fashion statements, but I do wonder what the next 10-30 years of ministry will look like as the current generation of youth pastors transition out and a new generation phases in.

What will this new generation be like?  They are probably the kids with ADHD in your Jr. high group right now. Scary, right?

What roles and expectations will we put on them and what will they think of us when attending a prayer conference in the year 2020?

It is kind of scary to think that we are the next generation of pastors!  What will we be like 20 years from now as “Senior pastors”.

Will our humor change?

Will we wear loafers?

Will our youth pastors look at us and think the same things we often think now about our senior pastors?

Obviously, with age comes cultural differences.  If we try to act like our high school students or buy certain clothes or trends to fit in, then something is amiss.  So, I don’t think our senior pastors need to necessarily like David Crowder, blog, or wear clothes from the GAP.

But I do think there is a need for them to understand where we are coming from, what makes us tick, to give us certain freedom in our ministries, and to understand the importance of mentoring and relational ministry.

20 years from now, we will be old (at least in the eyes of young youth pastors).  On the outside, we will probably not fit in or look cool.  But youth pastors should feel comfortable in our presence, eager to learn from us, and knowing that we fully support them in whatever God is doing (as crazy as some of their ideas may be!)

Stay tuned for Part 2: Youth Pastors make the best senior pastors.



2 thoughts on “the next generation of {youth} pastors

  1. This is an interesting post. I plan on being in Youth Ministry my whole life. I have no aspirations to leave, nor desire to do so. This post doesn’t look at it from that standpoint. It is only focused on the idea, and thought of “When we’re Senior Pastors, Youth Pastors will look at us this way…” I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, because most current youth pastors in 10, or 20 years will in fact be in Senior Pastorship. However, for me I want to remain where I am. Maybe it sounds too “dreamy” ad many would say: “You have to move up, getting old means getting out of touch for Youth Pastors” I’d say for some, that’s true…but for a few it would be wrong to leave YM. I for one know that I could remain in YM for my life and be content. I would be interested if you made a post about young youth pastors interaction with old youth pastors…

    • Marvin
      Thanks for your note. Before you read further, I would recommend reading an older post called “In it for the long haul?”
      It addresses many of these issues.
      The back story behind my premise is this:
      Over the past year, I have met with and learned from about 10 “senior” or “lead” pastors and church planters whom I respect.
      These men are going some very progressive, innovative, and transformative ministry, and 8 of them were former youth pastors.
      Additionally, over the past 20 years, I believe research has shown that 90-94% of youth pastors do not remain in youth ministry for their entire careers. Some transition into teaching or writing about youth ministry, but are no longer youth pastors.
      Generally, it is safe to say that at least 3/4 of today’s youth pastors will transition into different roles sometime in the future.
      And I think that’s great because you and I both know that the Church needs good leaders. and these new pastors are making sure to hire great youth pastors as well.
      So, while I do not think that people should go into youth ministry as a stepping stone in order to move up the ranks, and I highly respect people who make life-time commitments and careers as youth pastors, I am speaking to the common reality in today’s ministry. I don’t feel that we need to be afraid of God’s calling for change, knowing that God can and will use our time and experience in youth ministry to bring about change. If God leaders, we must be willing to follow, and follow courageously with reckless abandon and excitement.
      Personally, I hope that more youth pastors will commit their entire careers to students, but for the ones who do not, my encouragement and challenge is to bring their youth ministry passion, ideas, and leadership to the next level, thus transforming churches for the generations to come

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