Wednesday, December 14, 2005

No More Youth Pastors!

The title of this post was meant to catch your attention... apparently it worked! This is not a post attempting to slam anyone involved in youth ministry... at least not directly.

One of the alarming trends in the Canadian medical establishment is the high number of new physicians who are avoiding a general practice and specializing. Specialization has many benefits... work in the area of medicine you enjoy, make more money, avoid the repetitive nature of cold and flu diagnoses, etc.

We need specialists in medicine, don’t misunderstand me, but one problem we face are too many specialists and not enough GP’s. The result? Not enough family doctors for the population base.

It seems to me that a similar trend is manifesting itself in most seminaries and Bible colleges. Perhaps it is motivated out of a desire to attract new students? Regardless, now you can “specialize” your degree and gain similar benefits to those listed above (except the money!).

The result is a dearth of good old pastors. Pastors that study and pray and preach and counsel and marry and bury and write letters and help churches along. I have spoken to a lot of young men who shudder at that kind of boring life and thus launch off on the specialization path to find some meaning or excitement. Most of them think the best route would be some form of youth ministry.

After 5-10 years of that though... (and lets face it, who could last much longer!)... they feel “called” to take a “real” church and be a “senior” pastor.

Hoogly.

Paul told the Corinthians to “act like men.” If I had the opportunity to preach in every Bible college across North America, that would be my text.

Where are the men who are willing to lay down their lives in obscurity ministering to God’s elect? Where are the men who seek to be “all things to all people” in order to win a few? Where are the men who gladly deal with the same marriage, family, single, financial, etc. etc. counseling issues year after year?

Where are the men who bless a newborn, teach him in Sunday School, help him through High School, baptize him after his conversion, marry him to his bride, bless his children, help him through his marriage problems, bury his father, encourage him in his job loss, rebuke him in his covetousness, mentor him in ministry, ordain him to the eldership and die?

Maybe we do need specialists... specialists in an “all-round ministry.”

If you think the Lord is calling you to be a “youth pastor,” I challenge you to do three things:

1. Show me anywhere in the Bible such a ministry is modeled.

2. Tell me why you think the church is in need of a specialist to minister to this tiny group.

3. Answer this question: Has God called you to be a pastor?

53 comments:

  1. Well Paul, this post should garner some interesting responses. I love the general tenor of what you said and agree wholeheartedly (especially love the call for collegians to act like men - great text!).

    My only question would be if there may be a need for "specialists" once God "adds to the number" to a certain size, i.e. they are no longer a tiny group (challenge #2).

    My issue with youth pastors is that in many cases, they are not really pastors. They are motivators and planners, and their ministries are event-driven. I believe we need to call them back to being pastors, where they preach and teach and deal with the issues you mentioned. It goes back to your third challenge - "has God called you to be a pastor?" If so, then they will be dedicated to proclaiming Christ, "admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ."

    PS I also love the word "hoogly." I'm wondering if it's a Toronto thing, perhaps a derivative of Hogtown. If something just does not sit right with a Torontonian, it's said to be "hoogly." Also, what institution do you have pictured?

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  2. dan s.,
    Thanks for your comments!
    I am not sure what institution I have pictured... I just did a google image search on the word "seminary" and looked for something that I did not recognize (so as to not imply anything about anyone!)
    As for "hoogly" - this is my word. I laboured hard over it and I love it. I think I will post on it separately...

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  3. It sounds to me like maybe you've had some negative experiences with some youth pastors in the past? I dunno, but I strongly disagree that the youth population is a "tiny" group and almost take offense to it. Seriously. If it's just a small group, then maybe MTV understands something you don't.

    I also hate it when people use youth ministry as a stepping stone to "real ministry." As if teenagers is where one practices until they can work where it really counts with adults.

    How is it possible to not see children and youth ministry in scripture, especially in relation to Jesus' own ministry? A youth pastor's function is no different than a sr. pastor's. The only difference is the age group. Both fulfill the same role.

    Pop culture is becomming more and more specialized in how they reach teenagers with their messages of consumerism, sexuality, and entertainment. Shouldn't the church also become specialized in how we communicate the gospel with this same audience?

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  4. Hi Tim! Thanks for the comments...
    I do not disagree that pop culture is very specialized and focused on reaching distinct sub-cultures. No question! I guess what I am suggesting is that this type of idea in and of itself does not belong in the church.
    Your point about Jesus is my point. Jesus could speak to children, adults, women, Pharisee's, blind, prostitutes, wealthy, etc, etc. He was not limited in this respect and neither should we be. In other words, he did not divide up the 12 and say, "Okay Peter, you take the teenagers. Andrew you're in charge of seniors. Bartholemew, you need to care for the blind." There was a full-orbed approach to his ministry and I think pastors should emulate this. Pressing the distinction is missing the point.
    I have no problem taking a few teens out to breakfast one morning, kneeling in prayer with a dying woman before lunch, playing tag with the kids in the parking lot after church, and preaching to all of them Sunday after Sunday. This idea that we have to compartmentalize people and define them by their age or sex or background or ethnicity is just so foreign to Scripture.
    I think if the Lord has called you to be a pastor - then you should be a pastor! Spending all of your time with teenagers is not the same thing as pastoring. (But please hear me - I am not trying to say that your life's work is a waste [I checked out your blog] - I am just trying to suggest that it is not best. And not what the Bible teaches concerning being a shepherd of God's flock.

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  5. Well then it becomes a question of hermeneutics. When scripture speaks of Jesus' ministry and the church in Acts, is it prescriptive or descriptive? Is it only a model, a description of what they did, or is it a prescription, a model we're commanded to follow today? My position would be the former.

    It also appears that we have a different definition of "pastor" and a different perspective on their function.

    No sense arguing about it -- the church already finds enough stupid things to disagree over. Just thought I'd voice my opinion. We can agree to disagree yet still serve the same Lord as members of the same body and joint heirs in the Kingdom. :-) God bless man!

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  6. You just blessed my heart. Thank you. :)

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  7. I think this is a great post. I am a student minister and am intrigued by your position on this issue. I think there is a place for the specialized as well as the non-specialized in the church. I think one thing you may have overlooked is that not everyone is as gifted as Paul or Jesus. Not everone can relate equally well with seniors as well as 4 year olds. A person that can do that is truly a remarkable individual but we can't expect every pastor to be that gifted. Some are called to be preachers, evangelists, etc. Why not youth pastors?
    "Show me anywhere in the Bible such a ministry is modeled." I likewise challenge you to show a verse that says a pastor must be equally good at ministering to all ages and demographics. You point out a couple of men who were good at that, but where is the verse that says every minister must be good at that?

    Just my $0.02

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  8. Ah, Ben,
    An excellent rejoinder!

    As for your challenge to “show a verse that says a pastor must be equally good at ministering to all ages and demographics” I would point you to the primary books in the Bible that teach what a pastor is and what it is he should do.

    For example, Paul wrote to Titus:

    “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.... 9 Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” (Titus 2:1-6, 9-10)

    Then we could look at Paul’s words to Timothy:
    “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father. Treat younger men like brothers, 2 older women like mothers, younger women like sisters, in all purity.” (1 timothy 5:1-2)

    “17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

    “22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:22-26)

    “5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5)

    So, in just these few examples, you have Paul describing a Pastor’s job as being directed to all kinds of people: old men, old women, young women, young men, slaves, rich people, opponents and the lost.

    If I had the time, I think I could add many more examples!

    Don’t you agree that these are clearly teaching that a pastor is to be a man who deals with every age, gender, income-bracket, background, spiritual condition, and ethnicity?

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  9. Don’t you agree that these are clearly teaching that a pastor is to be a man who deals with every age, gender, income-bracket, background, spiritual condition, and ethnicity?

    No, I don't.

    If we stopped calling youth pastors "pastors" and instead called them "youth directors" or "youth coordinators," would the nature of this discussion change at all? Would youth ministry become more acceptable if we just changed the title and weren't called pastors anymore?

    In my mind, title is irrelevant. It's all about function. I find no passage the seems to remotely speak against someone who ministers only to a specific group of people.

    Paul was a church planter and moved to a new church every three years or so. Does that mean that pastors today must not stay in one place longer than three years? No. I am a youth pastor and am clearly created to serve teenagers. Does that mean everyone must serve teenagers the way I do? No.

    Again, I think it's a description of the ministry to which God called these biblical characters, not an absolute model that we are restricted to following today. We're all created different for the purpose of serving and worshipping our Lord in different capasities. As long as this is fulfilled, it doesn't matter to me if we're called "pastors" or "directors." The title is so trivial compared to the calling.

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  10. Tim,
    You have already said you do not find the Scriptures to be prescriptive in this matter, so that makes the conversation a little difficult... you are correct in saying we approach the matter from very different presuppositions.
    I agree that the whole topic can seem trivial, but there is a greater point I am trying to make. For example; titles, at one level, don't matter a speck. At another level, they are everything. A "pastor" is something defined, not just some vague title to be slapped on as a prefix to every Tom, Dick and Mary that serves in a church. To argue otherwise is to miss the necessity of Biblical words and terms.
    I realize this is just one part of your response, but I think it is an important one.
    But I have to run!
    Thanks for your thought-provoking comments!

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  11. I wonder how this applies to music ministry. Are music ministers kosher or should a pastor be able to lead a choir too? Then again, the Bible never metions an organized choir, so maybe music ministers are unbiblical? I don't know, man.

    One thing is for sure, I'm grateful we can rest in the fact that we serve the same Lord and will see each other in heaven one day! Then we'll have all the time in the world (or whatever) to discuss this issue. ;)

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  12. I with you, Paul. These observations will follow after a sober consideration of Gospel saturated, Reformed ecclesiology. I'm 40+, have done youth ministry (a little), and am convinced by the local church / family ministries model.

    Have you seen this?
    http://www.soulcare.org/Education/Youth%20Ministry%20Critique.html ? It gives some interesting historical perspective.

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  13. I just read this morning in The Deliberate Church about the pitfalls of "specializing." How the idea of a "minister of music" or "youth minister" can actually be divisive.
    It was like deja vu reading your post!

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  14. There ya go, Paul... he just compared you to Mark Dever :) You must be doing something right.

    AnywayI hate when people get off on the "prescriptive vs descriptive" debate. It's so Bible college. It totally misses the point.

    I know I'm not the apostle Paul. And I definitely know I'm not Jesus. But the office of pastor is every bit as biblical as the office of priest in the OT. Title is important. So is qualification. The pastor is to be a man who is able to teach. That's pretty straightforward.

    Maybe the real problem is that no-one has read Brothers, we are NOT professionals. Seems to me the whole specialization thing is just cloned from the world's model.

    But I guess that's okay, since the Bible's not prescriptive, right? But wait... what is prescriptive then?

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  15. Yeah, since something is discussed in Bible colleges that means it's inane.

    And God forbid the church learn anything from the "secular world." Are you still believing the world is flat?

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  16. I'm in my final year of a music degree, and my dream job is to be a pastor. I really want to do that, and the church needs more people who want to become pastors (at least in UK; don't know how the situation is in US). But there is a lot that's holding me back.

    First of all, I'm expected to have a theology degree, not a music degree. So that means another three years of study; which I'm totally up for doing, but my funds do not stretch that far. Particularly considering there's a shortage of good places to study in the UK (Oakhill is the best, and the only one I'd consider here in UK). I'd much rather go and study at Westminster or Reformed Theological Seminary.

    Then there's simply the matter of age; when you're young you do not feel qualified to pastor a church containing mostly people three times your age. I know what Paul writes to Timothy concerning that, but what have I been encouraged to do by most people who I've shared my ambition with? Go and work in the secular workplace first for a while (basically, in order to grow up).

    So at the moment, the only viable route for someone like me, who has grown to love their saviour during university is something like this: a year on RELAY (run by UCCF; a discipleship year where you get trained/discipled and you help a Christian Union out in a University), followed by going into some kind of not-quite-pastor ministry, maybe youth or music based. Then hope that after a few years of dedicated service they might pay for me to go and study to become acceptably qualified.

    My church at uni here is really encouraging me, but since I only have a year left and would need to go through membership and so on in order to have responsibilities there, there's not much either of us can do at this stage. Wouldn't it be better if there were more people doing what C.J.Mahaney did for Josh Harris and his church? But there is no space for that in most denominations, because the church expects PROFESSIONALS!

    < /rant>

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  17. Paul,
    Your "rant" is most excellent in my mind since it highlights a massive area of neglect by most churches... mentoring. When the ministry is professionalized to the extent it is in western countries, the academy is looked upon to produce pastors... rather than the churches producing pastors.
    At GFC we are trying to mentor young/old men with pastoral desires. We are not doing as well at that as I would like, but hopefully that will improve in the coming year. It seems to me that what C.J. did/is doing is simply trying to fulfill the New Testament model/mandate as best he can. And I think the results are great!
    Thanks for the glimpse into your life, brother.
    My own view is that if God has called you to the ministry, He will most certainly get you there! Hope in Him!

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  18. Not all of the ministry that occurs within a body of believers is done by a pastor. I have led many bible studies, counciled friends, and I play music for Sunday worship. Does this make me a pastor? No. Because I teach the youth, does that make me a youth pastor? No. It means that I am serving as part of the body, just as every other Christian does. Of course, that doesn't mean that those who are not pastors should take their role any less seriously.

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  19. Excellent article Paul. It put me in mind of my day last Saturday. After counselling a couple who are in danger of breaking up I rushed to the hospital to visit a lady who was given hours to live (she lasted two more days, did her funeral yesterday) and then went to a seniors' banquet to talk about who the real Saint Nicholas was and then went home to finish off my message on the priesthood of Jesus. Off to bed shortly before midnight and then up at 5:00 a.m. to prepare my own heart, mind and soul for a busy day of preaching, teaching a baptism class and speaking to various individuals who come for various reasons. (No, I am not the only one in the church who works with people.) What a work pastoral work is!! We need to be more than specialists in one particular field and we need to be more than jack-of-all-trades. My own pastoral ministry is testimony that God uses the foolish to confound the mighty and that He calls the things that are not to nullify the things that are. My brother asked me last week if I have ever considered running for political office. But how could I step down from this work to be a mere influencer of the country's laws? (Not that God does not call people to do that.) Your article is a great encouragement to a guy who is now classified (I originally misspelled "classified" as "calsified" - maybe I had it right the first time) as one of the older "more experienced" pastors who sometimes wonders if he has ever done anything at all. Keep up the good work.

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  20. I work in the youth ministry at my church. I think being a youth pastor is an extra added pressure to your ministry because you are gonna be changing the way the youth think about some things. I know that the youth pastor cannot do anything, I meant to say the Spirit in him does it.

    here are the answers for your questions
    1. There are many things that are not mentioned in the bible. So, you cannot take youth ministry out of context. There is a reason what God puts on your heart. For me specifically, I can feel God telling me that I need to stay with youth and build them in Him.

    2. In America, we see youth losing track all the time just because of the temptations. I have seen so many kids who used to do drugs and sex after getting involved with the youth group change. My best friend is the youth pastor at the church and we talk about this all the time. I feel that there is a big need for more youth pastors and more youth workers.

    3. Yes, I believe that I have the gift of preaching, counselling and discernment and I feel that pastoring is what God wants me to do.

    Abs
    http://xtaur.us

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  21. Anonymous,

    Maybe you missed the little box below the comment you left where you could type your name?

    I originally started to type out a serious reply to your objections, but then I thought... no. If you can't even be bothered to type your name, then why should I be bothered to take you seriously. You're obviously upset about something. Do you have anger issues?

    Maybe you should go talk to Dr Phil about that, if you like what "the secular world" can teach you.

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  22. Why is there a need for "youth pastors"? It is because fathers are not standing up and "acting like men" in their families.

    If a man is actively involved in his family, teaching his children in the way they should go, directing the activities in their lives, administering Godly discipline and discipleship then the child, according to the bible, has all they need to become a Godly man or woman. God did not ordain youth pastors to raise children, that ordination was given to the parents, specifically to be lead by the father.

    If fathers were properly leading and teaching their families, then there would be little need for youth pastors.

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  23. Abs,

    1. I asked: Show me anywhere in the Bible such a [youth] ministry is modeled.

    You answered: There are many things that are not mentioned in the bible. So, you cannot take youth ministry out of context. There is a reason what God puts on your heart. For me specifically, I can feel God telling me that I need to stay with youth and build them in Him.

    Abs, do you realize that you have just elevated your own internal impressions higher in authority than the Word of God? Do you mean to do this? If I use your logic, I could say: “Yelling chubba dubba dubba in worship is not mentioned in the Bible. I feel God is telling me to yell chubba dubba dubba at church. Therefore I will yell chubba dubba dubba.”
    I know this is an odd illustration, but I am trying to point out that the Bible does give us instructions on how to worship and we must conform our practice to those instructions. Yelling chubba dubba dubba, although not expressly forbidden in Scripture, surely violates all kinds of Scriptural commands concerning worship. Not only that, it detracts from all the positive things we are supposed to do in worship!
    The Bible also gives many positive commands for there to be pastors and what those pastors are supposed to do. You will not find a single text of Scripture that describes a youth pastor or his job description. You have not answered my question! 

    2. I asked: Tell me why you think the church is in need of a specialist to minister to this tiny group.

    You answered: In America, we see youth losing track all the time just because of the temptations. I have seen so many kids who used to do drugs and sex after getting involved with the youth group change. My best friend is the youth pastor at the church and we talk about this all the time. I feel that there is a big need for more youth pastors and more youth workers.

    In America we also see adults losing track all the time just because of temptations! I have seen many of these adults join a church and profoundly change. Whether young or old, the problem is the same – sin. And the solution is the same – Jesus.
    I don’t think you have answered this question either! I want to know why we need a specialist to minister to youth? Asked another way... why can’t I, a normal, nearly 40-year old, white male minister to an adolescent? Tell me one Biblical reason.

    3. I asked: Has God called you to be a pastor?

    You answered: Yes, I believe that I have the gift of preaching, counselling and discernment and I feel that pastoring is what God wants me to do.

    Great! Then get the confirmation of your church and do all you can to prepare yourself for the most exciting and glorious job on earth... to all ages!! 

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  24. Great post! One thing we don't often think about is that adolescence as a separate phase of life distinct from childhood and adulthood is an invention of 20th century secular psychology. The concept is foreign to scripture and to our culture at large before 100 years or so ago. The Bible recognizes two broad categories of people by age, children and adults. Once one is no longer a child, one should worship and be discipled as an adult.

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  25. I stand by what I said when I say "there are many things that are not mentioned in the bible". It is not mentioned in the bible that we should meet on sundays for church, we should eat bread and drink wine indicating Jesus' body and blood. And the list goes on and on.

    You said : Yelling chubba dubba dubba, although not expressly forbidden in Scripture, surely violates all kinds of Scriptural commands concerning worship. Not only that, it detracts from all the positive things we are supposed to do in worship!

    I think you are bringing God down by saying it violates scriptural commands concerning worship. Did God tell us that we have to sing amazing grace kind of songs only. NO. You can worship God anyway you want as long as your heart is in the right place. God sees our heart and not the words of out of our mouth.

    You also said : You will not find a single text of Scripture that describes a youth pastor or his job description. You have not answered my question! 

    This goes back to our previous discussion about the things in the bible. It is all about calling. I know that God has asked me to this and I am enjoying the ministry. If you try to find scriptures for cultural things, I am sorry to tell you, you are going to end up being a legalist. You will need to give a thought about God speaking to us personally. I certainly feel that I have answered your question here.

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  26. Abs, you said - It is not mentioned in the bible that we should meet on Sundays for Church, we should eat bread and drink wine indicating Jesus' body and blood - We are told to not neglect meeting, as some do and Jesus Himself told us to break bread and drink wine in remembrance of Him: See also Acts 20:7, Heb 10:25, Luke 22:19-20.
    I don't know you and therefore cannot comment on the veracity of the calling of God on your life, but whatever we feel God is calling us to has to be weighed against scripture and of course confirmed by the leadership of the fellowship we are a member of.

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  27. I am new to this site, but thought I had to get in on this discussion. I am a female (gasp!) and feel called to be in youth ministry. I don't think anyone here would then claim that maybe God is calling for me to be a pastor since it would be inappropriate for me as a woman to pastor a church. I think that youth ministry is so important. And honestly, if there is not a youth pastor, how much attention will the young people get in the church? There needs to be a seperate program for them being they learn differently than we do and they have different needs.

    It's a nice idea that the families should be raising and teaching their children in the ways of God, but this is not reality. Church is not just for the Christian. For instance, I come from a non-Christian family and would have not received the teaching I needed except through my church. And people like the hang out with people their own age, it's just natural. Additionally, having a Sunday school of all ages would not work very well because all ages have different needs.

    Though, I do see a need for more intergenerational mixing. But there is also definitely a need for specialized ministry. Teens are NOT the same as adults and they have specialized needs. A pastor needs a youth pastor because it is a good way to delegate the needs of the church!!!

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  28. I agree with David and Larry. From what I have seen with my own kids, they are naturally very self-centered. The whole world revolves around them. I'm sorry but this is not the real world....it is not real life. This attitude that they have is part of the foolishness that is bound up in the heart of a child. It is bascially immaturity. We are supposed to be teaching them to be mature adults. Do you think that giving them their own specialized ministry where we focus even more on them, helps them to understand that the world does not revolve around them? I'm sure it (youth ministry) can be done in a balanced way, but I haven't seen it yet. I see youth leaders trying portray God as cool and hip. Isn't that just a form of marketing to teens. I think we should call them young adults. We should start treating them and expecting them to act this way. But then we would have to completely go against the entire culture. Not many want to do that.

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  29. Can I jump in or is it too late? I am a youth pastor. Been doing this for about 10 years. As time has moved on, I have changed my attitude toward being a "youth pastor". I used to be confined exclusively to this area of the church (teaching, preaching, outreach, etc). Even though that is my title, I have now for some time understood that my gifts are not to be used only for one age group of the church, but for the entire body.

    My desire is to see the entire church edified for God's glory. So, yes, I have a lot of responsibility working with teenagers. But I also lead several adult Bible studies throughout the week. I teach an evangelism class for the entire church every quarter (teens - seniors). Heck, I even babysit toddlers for a small group and have taught them while their parents study the word and pray. It's all good.

    We also "make" our teens interact with the rest of the body of Christ. Many of them serve in children's class or on the worship team or in the nursery. Godly men and women work with our teens as well and do the majority of the work which frees me to minister to the church at large. There's a massive network in our (small) church and ministry would not work if they weren't all interconnected. That doesn't mean that you don't have meetings or classes where you teach on a level that the children can understand, but there should be a sense of continuity throughout the body. In many churches (one that I previously served in) there was no contunuity and a division was clearly seen. The teen ministry was separate from the rest of the church and the only time there was "interaction" was for 75 minutes on a Sunday morning.

    I agree that pastors and teachers should be very versatile and should minister to the entire church body. Although for me, a little bit more time is spent with the youth but I would never go back to working with teens exclusively.

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  30. Abs – I am not sure what else to say to you, friend. I think you need to read Glennsp’s post very carefully. You made some very incorrect statements in your last post.

    Angela – Thanks for commenting! Maybe you misunderstand my intention. I am not suggesting that young people cannot be ministered to as a group. I am suggesting that pastoral ministry ought to include ministry to young people – not exclude it – and that hiring one person to minister to one age group grinds against the pastoral model set out for us in the Word.
    Earlier in this string of comments, Jim noted how he ministers to youth and ministers in music. What he didn’t say was that he worked the rest of the week! He is just doing what Christians are supposed to do and serve within the local body of which he is a member. This is the model we need most!

    Joshua - thanks for the very interesting post!

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  31. Kerux, I am not trying to be argumentative here. I am just defending thousands of youth pastors and youth workers around the globe. Being a youth worker myself, I know how much we mean to kids and they to us. Its just not a ministry, its a family. The youth cannot be taught the same way the adults are taught. There is a generation difference and maturity difference and there are special ways of teaching the youth. Doug Fields has made some great teaching series which is just a small example as to how things are different for youth compared to adults.

    And youth ministry is certainly a specialized ministry and you need special people for the job. Trust me.

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  32. Abs - I totally agree with you!

    Kerux - I don't think I misunderstood you. Maybe I didn't explain myself well enough. I just don't think that a pastor can do everything in a church, that is why it is called a body. I definitely agree that pastors need to minister to the youth. The problem is, is that I don't see this happening as often as it should. I believe that a pastor oversees the church and ministers to all, but with in that there also needs to be specialization. There should be special ministries to children, youth, women, men, singles and seniors (all depending upon the size of the church). Sometimes we need to be seperate and need to have someone in charge of that group. You can call it a pastor or just a volunteer, but either way they are doing the same basic thing. Every group has special needs that another group won't be interested in. Seniors probably won't be interested in dating, but younger groups will be. One person cannot adequately minister to the needs of everyone in the church at the same time. Some group will get neglected, and that is why there should be a paid person on the ministry team. Most pastors I know or those studying to be a pastor cannot effectively minister to every different age group. Some people are just more in tune with the needs of others. So then why couldn't they be called a pastor and get paid for they do?

    Sorry my post isn't very cohesive!

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  33. Additionally, I just went to the National Youth Workers Convention in Nashville, TN and at just that convention alone there were over 7500 youth workers. And there were two other conferences just like it earlier in the fall. So then what should all those people do doing???

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  34. I've been kinda watching the responses here and decided to stay out of it for a while since, with all due respect, Kerux, it doesn't sound like you understand youth ministry at all. Your responses here indicate so, but the second challenge in your blog entry proves it:

    Tell me why you think the church is in need of a specialist to minister to this tiny group.

    Seriously, does this even deserve a response? I say this, not to be critical of you since I know the Lord is using you in great ways, but rather I say it because I feel a need to protect America's teenagers from your perspective. I hope no teenager ever hears you say this because it is entirely wrong. You say youth ministry is not a specialty area? And that it is a tiny group? And especially ask why the church needs someone to minister to this group? Wow. I'm curious to know if you've ever been involved in students' REAL lives (not their church lives).

    As for being "tiny," check the target audience of most marketing campaigns. Teenagers today have more spending power and more influence than any other group in history, and they are in desperate need of love in areas of life that no generation has ever faced before. "Tiny" is hardy the right word no matter how you apply it.

    Sorry if this seems to attack you -- I just don't see how you can speak with authority on this matter and at the same time prove your ignorance on youth ministry. I guess I'm just pretty offended and upset that pastors out there hold such opinions concerning teenagers, regardless of what they think of our "titles" and roles in the church. Of course I know you love people, teenagers included, and desire to see them reached for God just like everyone else, but your blog post doesn't seem to indicate that you understand the role of youth ministry in the church. However, I love you as a brother in Christ and am glad to hear about the life-change taking place in others people's lives as a result of His continuing work in your life. God bless and keep up the good work!

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  35. I note from the gfcto.com website that Julian Freeman is identified as the "Assistant Pastor". In light of Kerux's thesis in this thread I wonder why "assistants" need their own pastor?

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  36. Tim,
    Thanks for your comments! It is hard to write graciously in opposition with passion – I think you did that nicely.
    First off, I think you misunderstood my meaning when I spoke of a “tiny” group. In the context of that statement I was referring to smallness in comparison to the whole body. For example, I attended a church that averaged 10,000 people a Sunday. The high school aged youth of that church were about 400 students – a very big group! But that is still only 4% of the total number of people in the church. I think that percentage would hold true for most congregations – regardless of size. That makes them a small part of the whole.
    You are attributing what I said to the general population. I think the same percentages would hold true, but that brings up a second point that many have touched on. There is this idea that you need a youth pastor to evangelize youth. I think this is misleading. I can evangelize anyone and the success of that ministry will not be how well I “connect” with the person. The only way anyone is born again is if the Spirit of God works in their heart.
    For example, the Lord took Jewish Paul and used him as a tool to win many Colossians, Romans, Ephesians and Corinthians. The success of Paul’s ministry was based on God’s work, not his ability to connect or communicate with a certain age group.
    As for not understanding youth ministry, I am not so sure... I feel kind of silly defending myself, but I have done the big youth conferences, been to youth camps, and even took youth ministry classes in Bible College (sorry JLF81!). And I get about 6,037 pieces of mail for youth events across my desk in a year. So, even though I am not a “youth guy,” I think I have a fairly good grasp of what that entails. Of course, you can disagree with my assessment. I only throw it out there since I think it is a bit of a red herring to suggest that my problem is ignorance. I am just one guy who wrote 483 words trying to force great guys who are youth pastors to think through why they do what they do... Biblically. And the key word in that sentence is the last one.
    So far, I remain totally unconvinced of my questions 1 and 2.

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  37. Tim, Abs & Angela,

    I think you miss the entire point. As someone here has already mentioned, WE have created the generation gap and we are guilty of widening that gap when we separate the youth from the adults.

    The word is the word is the word. THAT is what we all have in common and the word of God is what will convict the hearts of mankind. Every age group has temptations and there is NOT a different word for the youth than there is for the adult. There is only ONE way to worship God and that is how HE has said to worship Him. Cain worshipped God in his own way and God was NOT pleased.

    As someone here already mentioned, it is the fathers who should be raising their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. It is NOT the responsibility of the church.

    I feel that Youth Ministries doing harm to the cause of teens. They're watering down the gospel and are exchanging entertainment for the unadulterated word of God. They must make God appear hip and cool in order to sucker them in, which is in essence teaching another gospel. I've got news for you God is NOT hip and cool. He expects repentance and righteous, but that is often seen as being legalistic.

    Instead of growing the youth into mature God fearing adults we're teaching them to be wishy-washy, double-minded adults who really do NOT fear God as they should and only see God as a pal who winks at sin and gives us things. Modesty and chastity have practically gone by the wayside. Piercings and tatoos are in vogue. These things are a full-blown lust of the world and the need to "fit-in" rather than conforming to God's word and being a separate people. God forbid we point out one's sin and hold them accountable as taught in the bible. I could go on and on.

    Having said all of that, I do care for the youth, but I agree with Kerux that the youth should join in with the adults and begin the trek into adulthood by doing adult things. That is not to say that they can't have fun, but the emphasis on FUN and activity is way too prevalent in youth ministries when the emphasis should be on the word of God and studying the word of God.

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  38. Dawn, you said, "As someone here already mentioned, it is the fathers who should be raising their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. It is NOT the responsibility of the church." This may be how we want it to be idealistically, but it is not. It is the responsibility of the church to raise children. We should all play a role in the raising of the children in our churches. Not all children come from Christian families that go to church. I have worked in several youth groups where there was many children that came from non-Christian homes and I came from a non Christian home myself. I am the product of youth ministry I gre up in and specifically from the care of my youth pastor. I received some care from my senior pastor, but for the most part, my youth pastor was the one who helped me to grow and to walk in my faith. And it was through spending time together, doing fun things, where I learned what it is to be a Christian. There is nothing wrong with youth having fun together, and I agree that it should be balanced with study of the Word!

    You also said, "Instead of growing the youth into mature God fearing adults we're teaching them to be wishy-washy, double-minded adults who really do NOT fear God as they should and only see God as a pal who winks at sin and gives us things. Modesty and chastity have practically gone by the wayside."
    Maybe I just came from an amazing exception of a youth group, but so many of the people my age are now pastor, pastor's wives, missionaries, and still so devout in their faith. And this came from a church the realized that it is both important to incorporate them into the adult world as well as to allow them to be kids. To be completely honest . . . how many people would want squirrley teens at their Bible study? Their grwoth would be stifled in a group of adults and they wouldn't feel free to talk or to be themselves. Simply, there are just at a different stage developmentally. They are much more kinestic learners and much less likely to just want to sit there and discuss. I guess I could go on and on, but honestly I do see it from your point of view, that there needs to be intergenerational mixing, but there is also a need for people to be with their peers.

    I guess this really just shows me that I am passionate about youth ministry, and a Biblically based youth ministry. Also, knowing at the same time they also need to be a part of the church

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  39. Dawn,

    you said - "I think you miss the entire point. As someone here has already mentioned, WE have created the generation gap and we are guilty of widening that gap when we separate the youth from the adults."

    We created a big gap between God and us when Adam sinned. We are totally depraved. So, we did not create this generation gap today. Its been there since the fall.

    you said - "As someone here already mentioned, it is the fathers who should be raising their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. It is NOT the responsibility of the church."

    I agree with you on this. Youth pastor and youth workers spend around couple hours a week with the youth while the parents spend the whole week with the kids. It is the responsibility of the parents. But, how many youth who profess Christ have parents who support them in their decision and raise them in a Godly way? Youth workers are doing their part in the kids life by guiding them and I totally agree that it is the parents who have to hold their hand and walk with them.

    you said - "I feel that Youth Ministries doing harm to the cause of teens. They're watering down the gospel and are exchanging entertainment for the unadulterated word of God. They must make God appear hip and cool in order to sucker them in, which is in essence teaching another gospel. I've got news for you God is NOT hip and cool. He expects repentance and righteous, but that is often seen as being legalistic."

    Would you feed a two month baby with steak? Would you let your 2 year old son to drive your car? Would you rather have a baby sitter be with your baby when you go out or rather the baby take care of itself at home? If you answer yes to all these questions, then I would agree that Youth ministries are doing harm.

    you said - "Having said all of that, I do care for the youth, but I agree with Kerux that the youth should join in with the adults and begin the trek into adulthood by doing adult things. That is not to say that they can't have fun, but the emphasis on FUN and activity is way too prevalent in youth ministries when the emphasis should be on the word of God and studying the word of God."

    I doubt if you have ever hung out with youth at all...

    Angela, I like your enthusiasm and passion for youth. They need people like you who would understand them in their heart rather than by condition. Keep loving them as you have been doing. I too derive a lot of pleasure working with them.

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  40. Abs said: "'you said - "I feel that Youth Ministries doing harm to the cause of teens. They're watering down the gospel and are exchanging entertainment for the unadulterated word of God. They must make God appear hip and cool in order to sucker them in, which is in essence teaching another gospel. I've got news for you God is NOT hip and cool. He expects repentance and righteous, but that is often seen as being legalistic."

    Would you feed a two month baby with steak? Would you let your 2 year old son to drive your car? Would you rather have a baby sitter be with your baby when you go out or rather the baby take care of itself at home? If you answer yes to all these questions, then I would agree that Youth ministries are doing harm.
    '"

    Your analogy is quite flawed if you're saying that a Pastor is incapable of teaching the milk of the word. There's a big difference between the milk of the word and the watering down of the gospel.

    I guess that adults who come to the Lord must start in the nursery, then graduate to children's church and then sit under a youth pastor before they can sit under "the" pastor? Sorry, but the word of God is quite sufficient to do the job through the pastor.

    Can you please tell me why, since the Youth Pastors have come on the scene, statistics show our teens lead the way in worldliness? Can you tell me why there are nearly just as many "Christian" teens involved in pre-marital sex, having babies outside of marriage and many are cohabitating? Can you tell me why I'm seeing teens who have piercings and tatoos? Can you tell me why they're dressing with their pants down below their butts like prisoners and gang members? Can you tell me why I see teens who come to church with skulls on their shirts along with other inappropriate symbols? Can you tell me why I'm seeing the young ladies dressing immodestly with cleavage and their belly buttons showing? Can you tell me why more "Christian" teens are watching MTV than their non-Christian peers? Can you tell me why teens are watching rated "R" movies? Can you tell me why so many teens barely know the word of God? Sure they know all the popular phrases, but there is no real spiritual growth. Or is all this OK with you?

    Abs said: "I doubt if you have ever hung out with youth at all..."

    Sorry that I'm not post-modern enough for you, but yes, I have hung around the youth. My husband and I have even taught the youth in the past.

    The topic has been youth pastors, but much of the problem also lies within the post-modern church in general. Even adults are not the Christians they should be. But we shouldn't exacerbate the problem with youth pastors.

    Abs said: "They need people like you who would understand them in their heart rather than by condition."

    It is the teens hearts that are not being reached by the "youth" pastors. They're only teaching a surface, watered down gospel. It's mostly a feel good gospel that doesn't judge, convict or have any consequences. The balance of the word is sorely lacking and the evidence is all around us.

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  41. Angela said: "This may be how we want it to be idealistically, but it is not. It is the responsibility of the church to raise children. Not all children come from Christian families that go to church."

    Again, the pastor is quite capable of teaching the youth. Sure, there should be "someone" around who can cousel with those who need extra attention, but as it stands the whole "youth pastor" scene is doing more harm than good. As I've shown in my post above. We do not need to coddle the "hearts" of the youth, we need to change the hearts of the youth BECAUSE OF their condition. We must not ignore their conditions. They need to know the gravity of their error, not overlook it and hope that they will change. They need to know that they cannot act like the world.

    Angela said: "Their grwoth would be stifled in a group of adults and they wouldn't feel free to talk or to be themselves. Simply, there are just at a different stage developmentally. They are much more kinestic learners and much less likely to just want to sit there and discuss. I guess I could go on and on, but honestly I do see it from your point of view, that there needs to be intergenerational mixing, but there is also a need for people to be with their peers."

    Gee Angela, I wonder what the churches throughout history did BEFORE late in the 20th century without youth pastors?! You can't see the forest for the trees.

    The church produced way more faithful Christians in times when there were no youth pastors. The problem with the church is multi-pronged, but further separating the youth is only making it worse.

    I know you all mean well and truly have a heart for the youth, but sadly, you're a product of your environment. I have a heart for the youth, too, but "youth pastoring" is not the answer. I'm all for the youth having fun, but they should also be doing what the Lord has told them to do like going to visit the sick, feeding the poor, helping those in need, etc. But that is not what they're doing. They're only feeding their flesh. I'm not saying they can't have fun, but they're having way too much of that.

    That's all I have to say on the subject, but I do hope you will give all this some thought and prayer.

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  42. Well, Dawn, I don't know what to tell ya. you seem to be pretty legalistic about most things. But I will try to explain what my stands are on the questions you posed.

    I stick to my steak analogy. I don't think that teens should not be around in the main service. But, I definitely feel they should have something as their own kinda service where the people around them are the same age group. How would you feel if you were put in a conference full of people who are not like you. Would you feel comfortable. Would you feel comfortable if you were with other believers?

    Can you please tell me why, since the Youth Pastors have come on the scene, statistics show our teens lead the way in worldliness?
    The youth pastor along with youth workers make a big difference to youth. I have seen many kids who were walking away from God get into the word because they know that we care and show love to them.

    Can you tell me why there are nearly just as many "Christian" teens involved in pre-marital sex, having babies outside of marriage and many are cohabitating?
    "just as many" - prove it

    Can you tell me why I'm seeing teens who have piercings and tatoos?
    I dont think it is wrong to have piercings and tattoos.

    Can you tell me why they're dressing with their pants down below their butts like prisoners and gang members?
    I dont think its wrong either.

    Can you tell me why I see teens who come to church with skulls on their shirts along with other inappropriate symbols?
    Maybe your church doesn't have youth pastors and youth workers who would tell them what is appropriate and what is not.

    Can you tell me why I'm seeing the young ladies dressing immodestly with cleavage and their belly buttons showing?
    Maybe Godly women haven't talked to them/shared the Gospel.

    Can you tell me why more "Christian" teens are watching MTV than their non-Christian peers?
    I dont believe they do. You are assuming stuff. Even if they do, not everything out there is bad.

    Can you tell me why teens are watching rated "R" movies?
    Maybe they need Jesus.

    Can you tell me why so many teens barely know the word of God?
    Because we need more and more youth workers and people who care for youth. We need people who show them love and make them feel that they are cared for.

    Sure they know all the popular phrases, but there is no real spiritual growth. Or is all this OK with you?
    I am not gonna judge anyone. I will leave that upto my Savior.

    you said - "Sorry that I'm not post-modern enough for you, but yes, I have hung around the youth. My husband and I have even taught the youth in the past."

    Well, adaptation to the culture is important for us to reach the unreached. I would challenge you to blend into the culture without giving up your beliefs. Things get modernized everyday and this is a good time to start. I wish you luck. Better late than never. If you try to stay conservative as what you were 20 years back, I feel its hard for you to reach the unsaved. Its important that you grow out of your rigidness and leave the legalism aside and think about the commission that God has given us.

    you said - "The topic has been youth pastors, but much of the problem also lies within the post-modern church in general. Even adults are not the Christians they should be. But we shouldn't exacerbate the problem with youth pastors."

    Thats why we have the commission. We have a job on our hands. We have to be a part of the emerging church.

    you said - "It is the teens hearts that are not being reached by the "youth" pastors. They're only teaching a surface, watered down gospel. It's mostly a feel good gospel that doesn't judge, convict or have any consequences. The balance of the word is sorely lacking and the evidence is all around us."

    I strongly disagree.

    Dawn, I know we have disagreed on many things in the few past posts. I do not know why city you are in. But, I would like to invite you to our church someday. If you can make it, that would be awesome. I hope that anything I said today offended you because I am being honest about all my answers.

    Grace and Peace to you in Christ!

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  43. I guess there is not really much else I can say, since it seems we're all pretty settled on our opinions. The only thing that I would ask you consider is that all of this is a criticism of someone's service to God. Working with youth is hard work sometimes. It really isn't all fun and games and there are truly people out there that work with youth who want so much more for them than what the world offers. I think it is rather unfair to blame the troubles of youth on youth pastors. More than anything, those who work with youth need support rather than criticism . . . so whether or not you agree with specialization, at least support your youth leaders and your youth. Be thankful for the time they give. I think that is more important than any amount of theology. Please don't trample those who work with youth in the name of theology. People ALWAYS come before having the right theology, especially something like this that is on the peripheral. God Bless each one of you and may we all find ways to bless others, even if we diagree with them.

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  44. Abs said: "you seem to be pretty legalistic about most things."

    I figured you would say something like that because I can see where it would seem legalistic and I don't mean to be. So let me briefly explain.

    As to why a teen who claims to be a Christian would get themselves tatooed or pierced or wear rebellious clothing or revealing clothing is more than likely because they are attracted to the world and have a lust of worldly things. I know because I used to struggle with a lust of the world. Of course only God knows the heart and I don't presume to know what is in one's heart at first sight, but a few questions to the teen usually goes to show what is in one's heart and it's an attraction to the world.

    As to the other things you want me to prove, well I don't feel like searching for the statistics but you're welcome to do so because they are out there. There was research done on all the issues I mentioned.

    I'm not against modernization, I'm against the post-modern mindset that somehow the simple preaching of the word is not enough to draw people to Jesus. My conservatism came from the Lord and I don't plan on compromising that position, ever.

    Abs said: "I am not gonna judge anyone. I will leave that upto my Savior."

    We are to judge righteous judgment and do so mercifully and that is the only judgment I am speaking of. (John 7:24; I Corinthians 5:12)

    I strongly disagree with you about conforming to the culture. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever: He does not change. Jesus didn't use gimmicks to reach the lost. He preached the word in love and with conviction. It is the word of God that convicts and saves, not conforming to worldly practices and preaching a watered down, candy-coated gospel.

    You have not offended me and I hope that I have not offended you. I simply want teens to truly know God and to live an abundant and uncompromised life through Him and sometimes I get a little too passionate about it.

    As I stated before, I don't totally blame the problems within the Christian youth culture on "youth" pastoring because it is multi-pronged, but it does play a big role in some of the problems our Christian youth face today. It's geared more toward things being all about THEM and not about GOD like it should be.

    Angela, I'm sure that those who pastor the youth think they're doing them a great service and I'm not saying that there aren't times when they do some good. I don't mean to trample on their service to the Lord, but like you said we've got our own opinions so I won't go into it any further.

    God Bless you all.

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  45. I find interesting that you don't say anything about children's pastor but you almost make it sound like a uth pastor is living in sin. My youth pastor is good at minsitering to all ages as needed. We simply could not accomplish all that we accomplish as a church if the senior pastor did not have him as one of his right hand men. The only thing I can tell you is how much these young people have grown under his leadership. And the senior pastor can not be expected to over see all the workers in the children's ministry, the youth department, or whatever other areas of ministry a church for some reason feels impressed to have to spread the gospel. Our senior pastor also relates very well to all ages. But what would he really acomplish if he tried to do everything. Moses had the problem in the OT didn't? I believe His father-in-law came to him and said, "You need help." You have not proved that someone ministering specificaly to certain people is unbiblical. All I can say, is that I look to see where God is working and the fruit that that ministry is bearing. Some missioneries, senior pastor, Ass. pastors, children's pastors and youth pastors are accomplishing some amazing things and being partners with parents in descipling their children for Christ.

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  46. my, my, my Pastor Paul ... you have poked the dog with a stick. I have read these posts with much interest. I think the great thing that comes from it all is that all of you love young people and are concerned with their hearts and lives. I think that's a very good thing. The discussion was lively, to say the least, and opinions varied and it probably won't change the fact that churches will continue to consider the "youth pastor" as a viable and considerable option in providing Christian education and mentoring. I feel that if the entire body of Christ was obedient and passionate about their calling to the "oikos" (extended family)we truly could function more like Christ would have intended. but ... "what are you gonna do with all those kids do there." The modern or post-modern youth minister just observes the need and (with passion) wants to help or fix it and probably feels the compassion of Christ moving in them to "make a difference." My problem with all of this is "tags" or "badges" (do we really need more stinking badges) ... now don't get me wrong ... I believe in spiritual gifts and of course pastor/teacher is one of those ... but if we could be more concerned about "being" what Christ has equipped us to be and not what we are called ... I think our kids would benefit from all of our giftings. Honestly, I like the previous posters staff line up ... I think that I have qualified numerous times as the Ass Pastor.
    Thanks Paul for the exchange of ideas and great headline grabber.

    papa g

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  47. Well, forgive me for commenting (that is, please forgive me for commenting) so late in the game, but being an actual YOUTH I kinda figure I have a semi-unique perspective on this.

    Now, I'm going to go back through the comments list, and go thorugh until I find something I want to respond to, and quote it (with the dsiplay name) in comment order. As a result, I may end up saying the same stuff as some of you did, but oh well. I'm also going to try and avoid personally attacking any of you. (And probably go off-topic a lot...)

    Anyay...from the top...

    Tim "I also hate it when people use youth ministry as a stepping stone to "real ministry." As if teenagers is where one practices until they can work where it really counts with adults."

    We're just as messed up as you are. And you're jsut as messed up as us. Trust me on this one. Everybody counts.

    Kerux "Don’t you agree that these are clearly teaching that a pastor is to be a man who deals with every age, gender, income-bracket, background, spiritual condition, and ethnicity?"

    I'd define a pastor as someone who is theologically knowledgeable, spiritually well-grounded, and underpaid for their work.

    Kerux "A "pastor" is something defined, not just some vague title to be slapped on as a prefix to every Tom, Dick and Mary that serves in a church."

    No kidding! For one thing, not every Tom, Dick, and Mary is ready to serve in the church. Willingness should never be the first requirement for a position, IMO. Ability is kinda necessary too.

    Ben "One thing is for sure, I'm grateful we can rest in the fact that we serve the same Lord and will see each other in heaven one day! Then we'll have all the time in the world (or whatever) to discuss this issue. ;)"

    Everyone who is saved, that is.

    Not everybody who goes to churhc is, youth or otherwise.

    Paul "Then there's simply the matter of age; when you're young you do not feel qualified to pastor a church containing mostly people three times your age."

    Yeah. We know people 4 and 5 times our age... if only they realized that we aren't mindless sheep out to get killed by coyotes. Sheep, yes. Mindless, no. I've been told that parents suddenly get a whole lot smarter when their kids get to be twenty... do Youth suddenly get a whole lot wiser when they hit twenty (or thiry)? I doubt it. Maybe they(we) just get listened to more.

    Ken "I know that the youth pastor cannot do anything, I meant to say the Spirit in him does it."

    From what I've seen, it's what the Youth Pastor doesn't do, according to God's will and otherwise that is most important.

    Abs "1. There are many things that are not mentioned in the bible. So, you cannot take youth ministry out of context. There is a reason what God puts on your heart. For me specifically, I can feel God telling me that I need to stay with youth and build them in Him."

    Ah..contra 'Sola Scriptura.' I knew this wasn't going to get a 'ur right' response the first time I read it.

    Abs "2. In America, we see youth losing track all the time just because of the temptations. I have seen so many kids who used to do drugs and sex after getting involved with the youth group change."

    Me too. And I see jsut as many who walk in looking for the Saviour, and walk right back out, freely pointing out hypocrisy right, left, and center. This is off-topic again, but, we youth are very good at spotting hypocrisy. Don't have any for us to spot, and we'll flock to you.

    Abs "My best friend is the youth pastor at the church and we talk about this all the time. I feel that there is a big need for more youth pastors and more youth workers."

    I talk about this with half my youth group an awful lot. I feel that there is a need for better youth pastors and youth workers.

    JLF81 "I originally started to type out a serious reply to your objections, but then I thought... no. If you can't even be bothered to type your name, then why should I be bothered to take you seriously. You're obviously upset about something. Do you have anger issues?"

    I hope you don't attack me for my preference toward anonymity.

    "Why is there a need for "youth pastors"? It is because fathers are not standing up and "acting like men" in their families."

    Or acting like secular men. Yuo forgot that part. Most of my Youth friends with very strong spiirtual foundations have horrid relationships with parents, and oftimes they are non-Christian parents. And many chidlren of dedicated Christian adults are not Christians. The big difference is who saw what hypocrisy first; the ones with not-great parental rleations/parents came to the church fleeing hypocrisy, and happened to latch upon people who are not hypocrites. The others... kinda the reverse.

    "If fathers were properly leading and teaching their families, then there would be little need for youth pastors."

    Except for youth with non-Christian parents.

    Kerux "Abs, do you realize that you have just elevated your own internal impressions higher in authority than the Word of God? Do you mean to do this? If I use your logic, I could say: “Yelling chubba dubba dubba in worship is not mentioned in the Bible. I feel God is telling me to yell chubba dubba dubba at church. Therefore I will yell chubba dubba dubba.”"

    I disagree that they were elevated higher than the Word of God. Higher, woudl be if the contradicted the Wrod of God, and for all the provided Scripture about serving specifc groups, not one bit said that you you can't have Youth pastors. So the 'head' pastor etc should talk to everybody. Yes, Definitely. I don't think Abs would want 'normal' pastors not talking to the Youth.

    And, as a further point form someone who is getting progressively mroe ocnfused, are not God's commands (or instructions) discerned internally? What then, is a conscience?

    Kerux "Yelling chubba dubba dubba, although not expressly forbidden in Scripture, surely violates all kinds of Scriptural commands concerning worship. Not only that, it detracts from all the positive things we are supposed to do in worship!"

    I fail to see the logic behind that. Perhaps a pertinent (but off-topic) Q to ask would be, 'What is worship?'

    It ain't just singing songs and stuff.

    "I don’t think you have answered this question either! I want to know why we need a specialist to minister to youth? Asked another way... why can’t I, a normal, nearly 40-year old, white male minister to an adolescent? Tell me one Biblical reason."

    Because we, (-I'm stereotyping here, but I happen to the the stereotyped people quite well-) don't necessarily want to talk to somebody mroe than twice as old as us, especially, and this is far more important, if you are seen as doing this on the side, or because its your job. If you can get aroudn that, more power to you, and I knwo a boatload of churches which you use you. But it's there, and it must be ogtten around.

    Even me-I'd rather talk to the 25 yr-old dude who's been Christian for less than 5 yrs and remembers what it was like to be a youth quite well (and doens't have the superiority complex that, let's face it, upwards of 95% of adults have) than try out the 50 year old who's been a Christian since longer than... well, long, and thinks that coolness is achieved by trying. (Ok, so I stereotyped pastors bigtime. I admit it. Please don't be insulted.)

    Larry "The Bible recognizes two broad categories of people by age, children and adults. Once one is no longer a child, one should worship and be discipled as an adult."

    Amen. But please, don't hit my friends over the head with it. (Or treat Youth group as a purely social activity.) I've seen to many Youth fall away for both reasons, so of them very good friends of mine.

    Abs "If you try to find scriptures for cultural things, I am sorry to tell you, you are going to end up being a legalist."

    I can't figure it out...does this mean that the Bible isn't culturally relevant, or purity of doctrine is a bad thing?

    Angela "I think that youth ministry is so important. And honestly, if there is not a youth pastor, how much attention will the young people get in the church?"

    Very, very little. Sadly, even with a Youth pastor, the truth can still remain the same.

    Angela "There needs to be a seperate program for them being they learn differently than we do and they have different needs."

    I don't know if that was intended to mean that Youth are unintelligent, but I would ntoe that our needs aren't to much different than everybody else's. We just have really bad PR.

    Angela "It's a nice idea that the families should be raising and teaching their children in the ways of God, but this is not reality."

    Quite true.

    Angela "Church is not just for the Christian."

    Nor is it just for the seeker. I just led a study last night on, of all things, the history of the Bible. Youth who don't have the time to do as much thoelogical research as they want to really do yearn for the Truth. I didn't do anything special, but they really enjoyed it. I've had similar experiences when at other Youth Groups and such; it isn't jsut 'my' Youth Group that wouldn't mind a little more relevant teaching. (No, I don't mean on the evils of sex and drugs, or even so much dating and that stuff. I mean Biblical stuff taught by somebody who cares, and knwos mroe than the material that they are reading off of.)

    rks "Do you think that giving them their own specialized ministry where we focus even more on them, helps them to understand that the world does not revolve around them?"

    That's the point. Focus on God, you silly people, and you should in everything, (sorry, I'm venting) and take us along for the ride.

    rks "I see youth leaders trying portray God as cool and hip. Isn't that just a form of marketing to teens."

    Yeah. So's everything else. And God is cool - once you realize what cool is.

    "I think we should call them young adults."

    Maybe we should call you 'old youth.'

    rks "We should start treating them [like adults]and expecting them to act this way."

    Start by giving us the respect you'd give your adult peers. As a general rule of thumb, you'll surprise us bigtime.

    rks "But then we would have to completely go against the entire culture. Not many want to do that."

    Youth do. That's why there is a 'Youth culture.' We're rebelling away from stupidity, into more stupidity. Difference is, one is adult stupidity, the other is Youth stupidity. And, of ocurse, we rebel against Yotuh culture, too. That's why every book written on 'today's yyouth culture' is incorrect.

    Joshua R. "So, yes, I have a lot of responsibility working with teenagers. But I also lead several adult Bible studies throughout the week."

    Psssst: some youth like Bible studies!

    "The teen ministry was separate from the rest of the church and the only time there was "interaction" was for 75 minutes on a Sunday morning."

    In soem churhces, that is because adults set it up that way. In some churhces, youth want it that way. Beware the difference!

    Joshua R "Although for me, a little bit more time is spent with the youth but I would never go back to working with teens exclusively."

    We ahve a large tendency to cause Youth-Pastor burn out. Perhaps, smart move.

    Abs "Being a youth worker myself, I know how much we mean to kids and they to us. Its just not a ministry, its a family. The youth cannot be taught the same way the adults are taught. There is a generation difference and maturity difference and there are special ways of teaching the youth."

    Quite true, says the youth. Yuo guys mean a lot to us, and pastors who skip over us might as well not exist, as we see it. Call us selfish, maybe, but a lot of us feel that if a adult in power doesn't care about the Youth, we must not have any power. We don't like that much, so we ignore them. Besides - at least some of us know and understand the plank-and-speck parable in such a way as, 'if we can see the speck, what can't we see do to the plank in our eyes'?

    But the bottom line is that every youth and group there of is different, and its lives, not numbers, that matter. And people coming to knwo Christ means little of they are nto soon well grounded, and people who are turned away from Christ are the true trajedy.

    "And youth ministry is certainly a specialized ministry and you need special people for the job. Trust me."

    Me too, and some of them are quite likely 'nomral' ministers.

    Don't do what you won't let God do through you.

    Tim "I hope no teenager ever hears you say this because it is entirely wrong. "

    I'm a teen, and I read it. And he's not totally wrong. A mroe accurate statmeent would be that Youth need someone who can minister to them, and if that's a 'normal' pastor, all the better. We respect old and wise people too.

    Kerux "I think that percentage would hold true for most congregations – regardless of size..."

    Maybe, and onyl maybe, if you take into account that many Yotuh (like myslef) do not attend the Yotuh Group at the churhc they attend (I go where I feel God put me... or rather, left me, when I switched Sunday attendnace) and if you remove all the youth who only go to Youth, and are not members of the 'congregation.' Even so, I am eprosnally quite surprised at such a low number.

    Kerux "There is this idea that you need a youth pastor to evangelize youth. I think this is misleading. I can evangelize anyone and the success of that ministry will not be how well I “connect” with the person. The only way anyone is born again is if the Spirit of God works in their heart."

    Amen.

    Dawn "As someone here has already mentioned, WE have created the generation gap and we are guilty of widening that gap when we separate the youth from the adults."

    Amen.

    Dawn "The word is the word is the word. THAT is what we all have in common and the word of God is what will convict the hearts of mankind. Every age group has temptations and there is NOT a different word for the youth than there is for the adult."

    Amen.

    "It is NOT the responsibility of the church."

    I disagree mightily. I wouldn't be a CChrisitna if it weren't for the churhc (well, a couple of them) rasing me to be as Gdo wants me to be. I ain't perfect, nto by a long shot. But without the church, I could look forward to nothing but rotting in Hell, where I'd already be.

    Dawn "They're watering down the gospel and are exchanging entertainment for the unadulterated word of God. "

    QUITE TRUE. And really annoying, too.

    Dawn. "They must make God appear hip and cool in order to sucker them in, which is in essence teaching another gospel."

    I've got news for everyone who pulls that stunt. We can tell when you're lying. What we do with that info varies, but it doesn't often help.

    Dawn "I've got news for you God is NOT hip and cool. He expects repentance and righteous, but that is often seen as being legalistic."

    A: Hip ain't cool. It's more a aprt of the body. B: Define cool.

    Dawn. "Instead of growing the youth into mature God fearing adults we're teaching them to be wishy-washy, double-minded adults who really do NOT fear God as they should and only see God as a pal who winks at sin and gives us things."

    Yup.

    "Modesty and chastity have practically gone by the wayside. Piercings and tatoos are in vogue. These things are a full-blown lust of the world and the need to "fit-in" rather than conforming to God's word and being a separate people. God forbid we point out one's sin and hold them accountable as taught in the bible. I could go on and on."

    God forbid some of us ever try and hold adults accountable.

    "That is not to say that they can't have fun, but the emphasis on FUN and activity is way too prevalent in youth ministries when the emphasis should be on the word of God and studying the word of God."

    Studying the Word of God is fun. And failing that, it is very interesting.

    "I am the product of youth ministry I gre up in and specifically from the care of my youth pastor. I received some care from my senior pastor, but for the most part, my youth pastor was the one who helped me to grow and to walk in my faith. And it was through spending time together, doing fun things, where I learned what it is to be a Christian. There is nothing wrong with youth having fun together, and I agree that it should be balanced with study of the Word!"

    Most of my growth has come from a succession of youth related people - both youth workers, and other youth.

    "To be completely honest . . . how many people would want squirrley teens at their Bible study? Their grwoth would be stifled in a group of adults and they wouldn't feel free to talk or to be themselves."

    Quite likely... but this is not how it should be.

    Angela "They are much more kinestic learners and much less likely to just want to sit there and discuss."

    I'll call you on that one. We discuss plenty more than we let adults know about. Even more than the adults who think they know that. Youth are mroe open to being wrong - more used to it, so we talk about important stuff lots, too. Yes, we have pleny of kinesthetes. We have plenty of kinesthetes who are perfectly happy to listen to a discussion of Sola Fide, too.

    abs "So, we did not create this generation gap today. Its been there since the fall."

    Je ne comprends pas how the first statement came about.

    Abs "Youth pastor and youth workers spend around couple hours a week with the youth while the parents spend the whole week with the kids."

    I dunno... plenty of us spend our whole weeks trying to get away from our parents.

    Abs "I doubt if you have ever hung out with youth at all..."

    What you people need to realize is that youth are very different people. Even the generalized statments I've made (and the not as general oens, naturally) can be found to be incorrect.

    Abs "Angela, I like your enthusiasm and passion for youth. They need people like you who would understand them in their heart rather than by condition."

    Yeah. We do. Whoever they are, we need 'em, and we need more of them.

    Dawn "It is the teens hearts that are not being reached by the "youth" pastors. They're only teaching a surface, watered down gospel. It's mostly a feel good gospel that doesn't judge, convict or have any consequences. The balance of the word is sorely lacking and the evidence is all around us."

    You know, I tend to hear watered-down gospel from the pulpit of the churches I go to. Youth pastors have all the flaws of 'normal' ones.

    Dawn "They need to know the gravity of their error, not overlook it and hope that they will change. They need to know that they cannot act like the world."

    Once again... adults need to hear it just as much as we do. Adn we need it a lot.

    "I have a heart for the youth, too, but "youth pastoring" is not the answer. I'm all for the youth having fun, but they should also be doing what the Lord has told them to do like going to visit the sick, feeding the poor, helping those in need, etc. But that is not what they're doing. They're only feeding their flesh. I'm not saying they can't have fun, but they're having way too much of that."

    Beleive it or not, there are youth pastors who do more than 'fun.' I know one! (Adn its not the one at my Youth Group's chruch, but that's immaterial to this conversation.)

    Abs "Maybe Godly women haven't talked to them/shared the Gospel."

    They're called 'seekers.'

    "Can you tell me why so many teens barely know the word of God?"

    Can you tell me why so many adults barely knwo the Word of God? At the ocre of it, the answers are similar.

    Abs "I would challenge you to blend into the culture without giving up your beliefs. Things get modernized everyday and this is a good time to start. I wish you luck. Better late than never. If you try to stay conservative as what you were 20 years back, I feel its hard for you to reach the unsaved. Its important that you grow out of your rigidness and leave the legalism aside and think about the commission that God has given us."

    You know, having jsut read this ocnversation, I get the impression that I mgiht well be more conservative than both of you. No further comment.

    Angela "I guess there is not really much else I can say, since it seems we're all pretty settled on our opinions. The only thing that I would ask you consider is that all of this is a criticism of someone's service to God. Working with youth is hard work sometimes. It really isn't all fun and games and there are truly people out there that work with youth who want so much more for them than what the world offers. I think it is rather unfair to blame the troubles of youth on youth pastors. More than anything, those who work with youth need support rather than criticism . . . so whether or not you agree with specialization, at least support your youth leaders and your youth. Be thankful for the time they give. I think that is more important than any amount of theology. Please don't trample those who work with youth in the name of theology. People ALWAYS come before having the right theology, especially something like this that is on the peripheral. God Bless each one of you and may we all find ways to bless others, even if we diagree with them."

    AMEN!!!

    Dawn "I'm not against modernization, I'm against the post-modern mindset that somehow the simple preaching of the word is not enough to draw people to Jesus. My conservatism came from the Lord and I don't plan on compromising that position, ever."

    I'm against it, too. And I'm nto alone in this, as a teen. Even if we dislike draconian rules and such, sometiems we like to rely on stuff to catch us when we fall.

    Dawn "I strongly disagree with you about conforming to the culture. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever: He does not change. Jesus didn't use gimmicks to reach the lost. He preached the word in love and with conviction. It is the word of God that convicts and saves, not conforming to worldly practices and preaching a watered down, candy-coated gospel."

    AMEN.

    Anyway, I'm sorry this is such a long post, adn I'm sorry for going so far off topic, and for replying to a thread so old.

    It was that, or homework, and I hope you can udnerstand that. :)

    Sincerely in Christ,
    Hidden One.

    PS: This is ten full pages in Word. Wow. Actually, with this line, I think it'd be 11. Oops.

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  48. I sincerely apologize for my many spellign mistakes in the above.

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  49. Wow! I missed this one the first time through, but for some reason it popped up on you RSS feed today (Good Friday 2007).

    If I read you correctly, you are not against youth ministry but have problems with the idea of a youth pastor. If such is the case I agree with you completely.

    From what I can see in the scriptures, ministry is the responsibility of the entire local church (Ephesians 4:12) while pastor/teachers and evangelists have the task of not only ministering, but more foundationally, equipping the rest of the local church so that they can do the various ministries that God has given them (Eph 4:11).

    Youth ministry is necessary because their are youth in the congregation, but a pastor's calling is to equip not just one portion of the church, but all of it that they might minister to one another and be built up and together into a strong, vibrant body. I am not sure that being a pastor for only one portion of the congregation does that, be it being a youth pastor or a pastor for seniors, or a pastor for whatever other singular portion of the congregation that you may care to speak of.

    This does not mean that as a congregation ministry is not done for those specific groups, but it is done by the body as it is built up by the pastor.

    I may not be very coherent in this comment as it is late and I am tired. Forgive me for that.

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  50. The youth suicide rate in Canada is the second highest in the world! In Quebec it is the highest cause of death in teenagers! So, kids going to hell. Thousands of kids going to hell. Youth pastors/workers aren't needed? I think Satan is loving this idea. So you don't think it's a problem? We don't need specialists? My current mentor is a former youth pastor, turned lead pastor. He is more engaged than many of the older ministers that I know. I have seen many older guys who are still in pulpits as pastors filling in time and collecting a pay check and not engaged at all in their congregations. They get to study the Bible and sermonize and run off to Swiss Chalet like everybody else. I almost left the ministry because of that kind of senior, mentorship. I have seen pastors stay in churches because it would keep them close to their grandkids. What have they done in their congregations or community? Not a whole lot.
    I'm frustrated. You imply that senior pastor that can do everything is God's design. You show me a senior pastor who shows a little bit of trust in the youth pastor and actually let them do more than switch the songs on the powerpoint and read scripture and one youth service a year and you will see a mentoring of a future senior pastor who will have a great kingdom impact. Most youth pastors are expected to just run with the kids and play chubby-bunnies. The senior pastors and the boards of these churches communicate that to these young charges. When was our dying youth culture actually presented in a "these kids need Jesus" way rather than judging and looking down the noses at the condition of these kids. By the way another kid just committed suicide as I write this. They probably are in hell without Jesus forever. Really...to bad...I believe the youth pastor is their to get students to care. To care for each other and most importantly to love Jesus whole-heartedly. I know, let's have a two hour Bible study and a five minute ice-breaker game. That's not acceptable. Ask an eighty year old individual what they like to do and they will say, "Let's sing What a Friend We Have in Jesus". There's lot's of churches now that are hiring pastors to Seniors. Fire them all. They are pointless. No, let the senior pastor do it all.
    A kid has some enthusiasm. Let's tell him what he has to be and tell him that our mold is the right one and expect him to fill it. No wonder kids are leaving. They are demanded to respect everything that is there but anything they like is not acceptable.
    As Jesus said, "Suffer the little children to come unto Me."
    Another young person just killed themself. Nobody was there for them.
    Jesus sheds a tear.

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  51. Thanks for the post Paul,
    First time at your blog-good first impression.
    I am a youth leader/pastor at my church and I wholly agree with you. Lately I've had to rethink my whole ministry philosphy because I just don't see the typical modern appraoch to youth ministry as being productive, perhaps even counter productive. It seems like the church is becoming so segregated. My youth seems to be like a church within a church, doing most our activities separate from the rest of the body. I want to change that and incorporate them into the church more, besides youth ministry as we know it has really only been around for about 50 years. What did the church do for 1900 years?

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  52. Exodus 18:14 (The Message)

    13-14 The next day Moses took his place to judge the people. People were standing before him all day long, from morning to night. When Moses' father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, "What's going on here? Why are you doing all this, and all by yourself, letting everybody line up before you from morning to night?"

    I am probably late responding to this but hopefully you may consider and ponder on these verses of scripture!

    No man is an island.

    A Youth Pastor does not replace or take away from the Job and responsibility of the Pastor, however he or she is a support and takes some of the load off of the Senior Pastor by visiting, praying for, fellowshipping, and serving the needs of the youth in the congregation.

    Just as Moses Father in law stated you can not sit and judge all the people day and night.

    The Youth Pastor is usually someone that the Youth can relate to and their Job is to assist the Pastor with the younger members in the Church by teaching them the word on a level that they can understand and relate to until they are mature enough or should I say experienced enough.

    I do not believe that there should be a separate worship service, but services dedicated to the youth with the involvement of the entire Church lead by a Youth Pastor. This gives the younger generation an opportunity to see that it is possible to be sold out for Christ even at young age.

    Yes, it is the responsibility of the Pastor to over see the entire flock including the Youth Pastor, but again he or she can not do it alone.


    Ps… The Bible does not mention Co-pastor, or assistant pastors, or Pastors aids, but through out scripture we see unspoken illustration such as Moses brother Aaron and Joshua (maybe he was over the young people before his elevation)

    Young Sister in the Lord

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  53. Kerux,

    You said: "And I get about 6,037 pieces of mail for youth events across my desk in a year."

    Really? You keep count? ;)

    David

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