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The Responsibility Veteran Youth Ministers Have To New Youth Ministers

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I landed my first paid youth ministry position just two months after graduating from college. To be honest, I wasn’t really even looking for a church position. I figured I would volunteer in a youth ministry for a few years and try to get accepted into seminary. I had no idea a church would hire me onto their staff, let alone trust me to lead their youth ministry.

My guess is that my story might not be too far from your story. It’s difficult to find statistics on the average age of youth pastors that include part-time and volunteer youth pastors, but I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch to say that most youth pastors/directors are in their twenties when they get their first youth ministry position. Of all the youth pastors I’m friends with, I can think of only one who I know for sure was at least 30 years old when they became a youth pastor. Most who I know became a youth pastor before they were 25 years old.

I wouldn’t bet that the trend of hiring young or otherwise inexperienced men and women as youth pastors is going to slow down. 

That being the case, I believe that veteran youth workers have a responsibility to help young, rookie youth pastors out. 

When I was starting out as a youth pastor, I benefited from some veteran youth workers taking the time to pour into my life. Here are some things veteran youth pastors can do for rookies:


Buy a young/new youth pastor lunch or a cup of coffee.

One of my favorite memories from my early years as a youth pastor was at a youth ministry conference. I was still in seminary, and my friend had convinced our admissions office that it would be beneficial to send four youth ministry students to the conference to sit at our seminary’s booth in the exhibition hall. While our hotel and plane tickets were paid for, we were on our own for food. A veteran youth pastor from our city was also attending the conference, and he offered to take us all out to dinner. We spent time laughing and talking about ministry. It may have just been a dinner to that veteran youth pastor, but I was grateful that he was willing to take time out of his schedule (and money from his wallet) to pour into us as young youth workers.


Encourage young/new youth pastors to be a part of your denominational or local youth ministry network.

Of course, being a part of a youth ministry network is something that all youth pastors can benefit from, no matter how many years you’ve been doing youth ministry. A huge benefit of a healthy youth ministry network is that younger youth workers can benefit from relationships with some youth workers who have been around the block once or twice. In my first youth ministry position, some of my best friends in ministry were a part of a youth ministry network run by our denomination’s local office. It was a blessing to hang out with some youth pastors who had been in the same church for a long time.


Mentor a young/new youth pastor.

When I was in my first youth ministry position, I was required by the seminary I attended to have a “professional” mentor who was in ministry as well. My mentor was a 20-year youth ministry veteran with whom I still have a great relationship ten years later. Many people who point out that Paul tells young Timothy he should not be despised for his youth forget that he was mentored by Paul. Sure, it’s possible for a young youth pastor to make a huge impact, but it probably won’t happen without a mentor pouring into that person. You won’t be able to be a mentor during every season of your life, but when the time is right, don’t be afraid to identify a young youth pastor you can pour into from the wisdom you’ve learned from your many years of mistakes.

What are some other ways veteran youth pastors can pour into rookies?

 

About the Author

Benjer McVeigh

Benjer McVeigh serves as the Small Groups and Connection Pastor at The Heights Community, a multi-site church in northern Utah. He resides in Ogden with his wife, Jennifer, and his two daughters, Bethany and Samantha, and he blogs about small groups, volunteers, and leadership at www.benjermcveigh.com.

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9 comments

Hey Benjer, great insights. I've been at my current church over 11 years, and try very hard to be a resource, a comrade in arms, and most importantly, a friend to new YMs in our area. These connections are probably one of my favorite things in Youth Ministry. Great post.
by: Keith Parker January 31, 2013 2:29 pm
Thanks, Keith. Keep loving on those rookies and youth pastors who are new to your community!
by: Benjer McVeigh January 31, 2013 3:29 pm
This is good stuff. We just rekindled a youth ministry network. In our area have had some come and go and I don't know if it is a lack of trust or just busyness, but I've realized it is going to be far harder to serve the wider area than we first realized. What has been sweet is establishing a connecting with a few of the local professors who are connected to Christian Ministry degree programs and trying to build bridges with some of them while they are still in college so that they have some support and a healthy learning environment. Your suggestion to be the first to initiate in buying a new youth guy a cup of coffee is huge. We all have a thousand reasons to put out fires, plan for the future and do a lot of other necessary focuses, but I think we initiate relationships more with other youth guys, good things will follow. Thanks for your thoughts.
by: Brian Bennett February 8, 2013 11:23 pm
Thanks, Brian. I think you've hit on something very significant when it comes to serving the "wider area" - If we are not kingdom-minded enough to realize that reaching our community (whether we're talking teenagers or everyone) means that lots of laborers (and churches) are needed, then we have a very small view of God's kingdom. Part of supporting new/rookie youth pastors is realizing 1) We aren't the only one God is using in our area and 2) If we REALLY care about teenagers, then we will poor into someone ELSE's ministry by supporting them (especially if they're young and may be around longer than we will!).
by: Benjer McVeigh February 11, 2013 1:36 pm
Great blog! Thanks for the insight. I've been doing bi-vocational youth ministry for 7 years & at times I wish there was a network just for those who are in a similar position. Having someone to bounce ideas, frustration, failures, & successes with is a great way to keep yourself from burning out & becoming another statistic.
by: Warren February 12, 2013 9:38 am
Warren: I think that's really a huge benefit of a youth ministry network: helping bi-vocational and small-church youth pastors. I once served at a small church where although I was full-time (with split responsibilities), it was easy to feel alone, even with a good team of leaders. Hanging out with other youth workers on a regular basis was my lifeline, especially during a difficult time in ministry.
by: Benjer McVeigh February 12, 2013 11:05 am
Fully agree with the concept. My early ministry began when youth ministers meet regularly, planned together, worker together, shared dreams and frustrations together. That's how I've made it this long. I long for those days. I have now been doing Youth Ministry for 30+ years now and have unfortunately noticed a trend of many young ministers who are not thinking Kingdom but kingdom, as in their own. Attempts to support, guide, and mentor are seen as intrusions of the old guys who don't know anything. I am still learning but yet feel the need to guide as I was guided. Hope I don't sound like a whiner but that is my reality as I've seen it..
by: Brian Jones February 12, 2013 10:06 am
Brian: I could see how that could be the case, because honestly, I was quite full of myself as a new youth pastor. Keep trying to pour into rookies and young youth workers! Some will resist, for sure, but there are many who are thirsty and are willing to listen to veteran.
by: Benjer McVeigh February 12, 2013 11:08 am
Hi and thanks for this post. I have been a Youth Pastor for 24 years in 4 different churches and states. I'd love to mentor and encourage newer Youth Pastors but I don't know but a few and our schedules collide each time we plan a lunch. If you come across any yp's in my area I'd love to encourage them. Dennis-La Vergne TN 37086
by: Dennis Robison January 17, 2014 10:31 am