Treating youth ministers like silver medal ministers.

“Do you ever think you’ll be a real minister someday?”

If I had a dollar for every time someone said this to a youth minister I could probably train a worship eagle to hunt and kill the pigeon that pooped in the mouth of the Kings of Leon bass player, forcing them to cancel their St. Louis show this weekend after only three songs. (In pigeon society this event has already been labeled, “The greatest day ever.”)

Alas, no one pays me money when youth ministers get insulted. That’s a shame because it happens. We think youth ministers are goofballs. They’re good at kickball and pranks that involve whipped cream. And once a year we let them preach on youth Sunday.

But I think in a lot of ways, they’ve got the toughest job at a church. In fact, here are five reasons we should never consider our youth ministers silver medal ministers.

1. Liability forms

They should just call these, “Get out of jail free,” cards, because that’s what they are. When youth ministers plan a retreat, they’ve got to collect liability forms from each student. Why? Because someone is going home with a broken leg. That’s just going to happen. Someone will jump off a sand dune, throw an apple at someone’s head or get stitches. That never happens to senior pastors. Not once did my minister dad come home from an elder retreat and say, “Yeah, Hank Johnson tied a fake snake over the bathroom door and Mary Smith freaked out and broke her hand slamming the door shut.”

2. Relevance

Youth ministers have to be relevant across multiple generations. Senior pastors don’t to the same degree. When my dad mentioned Seinfeld in a sermon, he was mentioning something that as a 40 year old he liked. It’s different for youth ministers. They have to understand and communicate in their own generation and their student’s generation. What does that mean? Basically, you’re going to be forced to pick a team in the Twilight series. If you like jean shorts and sit ups, go Team Jacob. If you want to be an emo Robert Smith kind of vampire, go Team Edward.

3. Speaking

Youth groups are harder to speak to than the average Sunday congregation. I learned this recently while speaking to some students. After talking for about four minutes, I noticed that there was a kid asleep in the crowd. And not just a little asleep, he was sprawled out. Teens will fall asleep if you don’t bring it instantly. They also won’t fake laugh. Adults will give you “courtesy laughs.” Not teenagers. If it ain’t funny, they ain’t laughing. Teens, in a good way, make you work for it.

4. Dramas

I don’t know if it’s technically a rule, but poor youth ministers often end up being forced to perform cheestastical dramas on mission trips. Our youth group did a dance routine to Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” Maybe your youth group had puppets or handbells. You might have even had a mime troupe at your church. (I would name mine, “Gloves of Love.”) Regardless of the variation, chances are, your youth minister had to not only do his/her regular job but also be skilled at the performing arts.

5. Orange Drink & Pizza

I think youth ministers have a lifespan that is eight years shorter than the general population due to all the ghetto orange drink and pizza they are forced to consume. And it’s always the kind of pizza where you can’t tell if you’re eating a piece or have just started biting the box. The pizza is thin, covered with a sandpaper like layer of cheese, and crafted with crusts that could kill a man like an aborigine boomerang.

There are probably a billion reasons it’s difficult to be a youth minister, but one of the reasons that it’s not, is pretty simple:

This generation has more potential to spread the gospel than any other generation in the history of mankind.

It’s true, teenagers today will communicate more, share more and talk more than ever before. Twenty years ago, when a student heard a great sermon, they maybe told two friends at school. Now, they post a link to it on facebook. They tweet about it. They blog about it. Your sermon can go viral in about 12 seconds. The ability for this next generation to be salt and light is unbelievable.

I thank God for Kurt Andre my youth minister growing up.

If you had a youth minister you’re thankful for too, give them a shout out today. Forward them post and comment with this:

“I thank God for ________________.”

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  1. says

    Awesome post John. I love the mixture of just a touch of serious Wednesday in this, yet funny enough to not fully qualify. One other item for the list, the ability to multi-task in both work and conversation like it is nobody's business!

    I thank God for Eric Ebbinghaus.

    • Bethany says

      I spent a great deal of time with Eric Ebbinghaus in our younger years– we're the same age and in the same school/church classes. I agree. He's awesome! And I'm so glad the Lord is using him to minister faithfully to this generaton :) I second your shout-out!

      • says

        I grew up with him also, we went to the same church. He isn't at this church anymore, but as I get older the guy still challenges me in ways he probably doesn't even realize.

        • Taylor says

          Eric was my youth pastor back in the day! So I guess I third this one! What an awesome guy, I'll always remember going to youth camp out at Tablerock lake with him. He actually got me hooked on this site!

  2. says

    I thank God for Brian Kramer. He always answered my questions as best as he could.

    And LOL to "ghetto orange drink." It was always Dr. Thunder and Mountain Lightning in our youth group.

    • pbj says

      join your volunteer youth staff…it's never too late and as a YP I love getting my staff involved in things they missed out on as a student in my ministry or wherever they're from

      so weird, so awesome, so cool to be a part of how God works in the lives of students

    • peg o says

      you, I am sorry to say, have WAY more to worry about, than reason #5 … be an active participant with your daughter … from the wife of a gold metal youth minister …

    • Brad says

      Hey! You bring up a good point. It's way too easy for processed junk food to run supreme at youth group events. I remember the lock-ins were the worst.

      As a youth director in a small town now, I make healthy eating (at least at youth group) a priority. During the school year, we have dinner together at every sunday night youth group. We've made sure that the parents, volunteers, and myself bring something that is as natural as possible and is low in fat. We still have fun stuff in treats, but we try to keep the central part of the meal simple and healthy. We also use the opportunity to have the parents or whoever is cooking tell or teach the kids about the meal.

      I think this might be easier in this small church. Processed and tasty is easier. At the large church i grew up at and first worked at, healthy eating didn't happen. Maybe it was harder because of the number of kids.

      I saw some of our students (in particular a 7th grade girl) putting on weight and it struck me as messed up that our meals at youth group could be be contributing to that. Maybe seeing how we eat at youth group will encourage them to eat better elsewhere.

      Maybe you could get in touch with the youth minister at your church about your concerns. My advice would be to volunteer as well. Let him or her know that you're not attacking but want to be a partner to help the ministry. The minister might have not thought about it before. Or they could want to change things but feel like they don't have the support or help to really do it. Maybe you could connect with other parents about the issues you're concerned about.

  3. VanEd says

    Thanks, Joe Williams! You were a big influence on my life. Even though you made me rat on the person who shot the fireworks off.

  4. says

    I thank God for Rusty Vanderford. Our last YP left a mess when he left. It took us 9 months to wade through over 200 contacts before we located Rusty's resume at the bottom of the stack (he was literally our second to last candidate). God has used him to resurrect the morale of our students, get them refocused on God after being let down by man, and I'm now seeing teenagers smile, laugh and sing again. God is good – and He is extra good to us through Rusty V.

  5. Lisa says

    I thank God my youth minister from long ago did not dabble in the performing arts because he had no training in that area whatsoever. "Cheestastical dramas and skits" are generally not that effective as ministry tools, and are the reason why a professor at my Christian university coined the phrase "Skit happens". However, well-written and well-performed dramas can be very effective ministry tools, and it's too bad they rarely happen.

  6. says

    "If I had a dollar for every time someone said this to a youth minister …"

    OK, Jon, I'm not calling you a liar or anything, but I have been in church for, like decades. Many different denominations and non-denominations. And I have never, ever heard anyone say such a crass thing, implicitly or explicitly. And you say you have heard this multiple times? Seriously?

    • Jon says

      Without a doubt. I once wrote a list of silly things Youth Ministers do and here is how one youth minister responded:

      "Thanks for promoting the stereotypes that youth ministry is only for 20-somethings that make horrible decisions. I was trying to upend the trend, and now my work just got a little tougher…"

      Here is a real youth minister complaining, rightfully so, about the stereotypes of youth ministers. In his comment he says that people often choose youth ministry as a horrible decision. That's exactly what this post is about. He says that looking down on youth ministry is a trend he is actively working against.

        • Beccy says

          James, are you a youth minister? If so, I sincerely hope you count yourself lucky that you've never run into this criticism. My brother was a youth pastor, and heard it all the time. I am a children's pastor, and hear it all the time. In one of my ministry classes in college, a young man was advised to perhaps seek out a youth position because he lacked a certain amount of polish in his speaking, and would not likely get very far as a "real" pastor. This gets my goat for two reasons – 1. It implies that non-senior pastors are less than capable, and 2. It implies that non-adult congregations are inferior. The church needs to stop denigrating its children and youth pastors, and stop denigrating its children and youth!

          Jon, I believe the youth minister stereotype is perpetuated by the sheer number of youth pastors who do leave youth ministry. Unfortunately, what many people perceive as "maturing" and "graduating" into "real" ministry is usually the result of burnout from undue pressure and criticisms (and low pay resulting from a perception that youth ministry is less real)

        • Jon says

          Do you work in youth ministry James? I guess I'm trying to understand where you are coming from. I've had dozens of youth ministers share the frustration I wrote about today with me, but if you're a youth minister and you've had a different experience, I'd love to hear about it. And I'm encouraged that your experience has been different.

          • says

            I'm not a youth minister, am very good friends with a couple of them, and have worked extensively in the office with several of them. Sorry to sound like I was calling anyone a liar, but I just haven't seen or heard anything like what you describe. Don't know what to tell you.

          • Jon says

            Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate you adding to the conversation.

            It's kind of a moot point now though since you and I have both seen something like what I describe. Two youth/child ministers commented on your initial comment and said "I've been asked this question at least a dozen times."

          • TBA says

            I think an important distinction is whether or not Jon has actually heard someone say that to a youth minister, or if he has only heard a youth minister say that someone said that. Or rather, if Jon has heard someone (non-youth minister) express that sentiment.

            Otherwise, I am with James in that I do not believe that Jon, you have stood near a youth minister and heard someone say to them "Do you ever think you'll be a real minister some day?" enough times to train an eagle, let alone train an eagle that would be able to (somehow through pigeon poop forensics) identify the very pigeon who defecated in the bass player's mouth.

          • TBA says

            What if you were near a youth minister and you heard someone say "Hey, what are your thoughts on real ministry?" Would that count? Would that warrant a dollar or would that be closer to 50 cents?

            How about Jon, if you read an email from a youth minister and he said "Man, I hate people thinking I'm not a real minister!" Surely the sentiment is the same, but I would certainly not believe that such an email communication would constitute a dollar.

            These questions go to the substance of the post. Jon please respond. Also, since we are on the topic of calling out exaggerations, I would like to revisit the eagle issue.

          • TBA says

            Where would you get this eagle? If you are going to trap it, sure that will save some money, thus you'll won't need to hear as many negative comments to youth ministers, but I have been a fan of eagles for some time and I can guarantee you that no street eagle will be up to the challenge you describe–no MATTER the level of training. And that is a fact!

            Second, would you train the eagle yourself or would you outsource the training to a professional? Obviously outsourcing would be a much better idea because I sincerely doubt you have enough time and/or flannel shirts/leather gloves to properly train an eagle. However, I looked through the Craigslist employment section, and eagle trainers are expensive. Again, this goes back to the question of how many times have you actually heard or known of someone attacking a youth minister.

            Well, please respond to these questions that I think get to the heart of the post.

          • Jon says

            If there's one issue I am sick of, one thing that I think is tearing apart the church, it's the whole "Captured eagle vs. street eagle" thing.

            I estimate that, much like a friend we both have actually did once, you can catch an eagle with a cage and a very frightened, unlucky hamster. The question, the core issue if you will, is does a hawk count? My neighborhood is lousy with hawks and I could probably catch one tomorrow if I so desired.

            Something to think about, something to think about.

          • says

            I'm a Youth Pastor and I've been asked this question multiple times. I have other friends who are YP's and they also have experienced this pressure. That's not the ONLY kind of comment we get, but there is def a disconnect between YP's and real ministers.

          • says

            I just emailed a friend who was a youth pastor at a church, then moved to my church as a youth pastor, and then left to plant a church, where he's been senior pastor for 5 years. His response:

            "Yes but only when I was acting like a 'youth pastor' (read- acting like one of the kids) and not behaving like a 'real pastor'. LOL
            People at GCC [my current church, his former church] never did though. It was the church before GCC that did.

          • says

            I didn't want to beat a dead horse so I won't comment anymore. If you guys say people say stuff like this, I believe you, because you would know.

          • says

            Most of the comments of this nature i have recieved have been from regular church folk,

            although my senior pastor has asked what my plans are as he thinks youth pastors are outdated when they turn 30

          • says

            i don't know…i still feel a little uneasy about this post. i mean, where's this jon guy getting this information? do we have any valid, legally-binding proof? could we get a video or at minimum a tape recording of at least 5 or 6 people saying those exact words to a youth pastor? perhaps a list of witness signatures?


          • Donna says

            I had the same phenomenon happen when I went from teaching music in the public schools to teaching in a University demonstration program. Exact same job in most respects, but the fact that I was teaching AT THE UNIVERSITY made all the difference in the minds of many, and I got a lot of compliments on my "promotion". Actually, the public schools paid better-the main benefit of the college position was that it allowed me to job-share and be at home with my daughter.

          • pbj says

            Full disclosure – pretty sure Jamie and PBJ are related (that's my dad!!!), just in case that affects the integrity of any journal studies based off of this SCL post

            of course that also means it's a two generation thing now…and neither my dad nor I are/were the kinds of youth pastors that would hear that statement when messing around like a "youth pastor" who needs to grow up, neither of us have ever really fit that side of youth ministry even though I'm sure we've done our share of cheesetastic dramas and other things

          • Susan says

            Agreed. I've volunteered in HS and MS youth ministry for15 years and never have heard anything like that said about our youth ministers by volunteers, congregation members or parents! I would remember if I had because that attitude is so condescending & worldly. Yuck. I feel sad so many of you guys have had the opposite experience. Don't own it, for pete's sake. You are shaping the hearts of our future!

          • Jake Davis says

            I'm a youth pastor. Graduated from bibe college with an accredited B.A in Biblical Studies and Theology, and a minor in Cross-Cultural Ministries. Not only have these very words been said to me, but also something along the lines of "Wait till you're older, and experience real ministry". Plus, no one really takes me (or the students) seriously. To many people we are just an "extension of the churches ministries" and not a ministry within itself. There is definitely an ugly side to youth ministry, especially in terms to how people look at you. But fortunately, I don't do it for their approval;).

    • pbj says

      someone just said that again to me last week…I hear it at least once a year and I'm at a great church that doesn't think that way

    • Jamie says

      In my first three youth pastor positions I often had our leadership (deacons and elders) ask me this. I would always answer that I was a minister and that God had called me to this position. They never got it. Fortuanately, that was not the attitude of the parents and most of the congregation. In my last youth pastor position the question never came up because the church, Grace Church San Luis Obispo understood that all the roles were callings and that we were ministers.

    • Rachel D says

      My husband and I, both youth ministers (he works in a church and I for a parachurch organization), have had the comment made to us many times.

      Sadly, a majority of those helpful commenters have been family members who are still waiting for at least one of us to get a 'real' job.

    • Anonymous Bruce says

      Confession time. I've said it. It was in jest and said to good friends so as to watch the rising temperature colour their face! I was inspired by hearing it said without jest and observing the same 'face race to boiling point' phenomena. Also got to wear the shoes myself a couple of years later during my own stint in youth ministry.

    • DebG. says

      The other thing I hear at least once a week (SERIOUSLY) is: "Is this all/what you do all day?" or various variations on that theme. This comes from teens and adults alike… usually after being around for 10 minutes or so. Too bad they're never around for the emergency room calls or the family crisis interventions, etc.

    • Beth W says

      I just asked my husband how many times someone said that to him, and without batting an eye, he replied "Scores." He was in youth ministry for many years, then worked as a senior pastor, and then went on staff at a larger church as an associate for a while. People asked the "real pastor" question even then, after he had been a senior pastor for several years. Needless to say, we try to always treat our youth pastor like a world champ.

      I thank God for Joe and the countless people he has influenced with a love for Him and His Word!

    • chad m says

      dude, i'm an ordained youth pastor with an Master of Divinity degree and i'm often told, "That was such a great message, someday you'll be a great pastor of a big church." i guess my work now doesn't really count. oh well, i don't let it get under my skin too much!

  7. Brandon says

    i've been a youth pastor for 6 years now and absolutely refuse to do cheeseball dramas. i get pressure all the time in the form of (from older adults) " my friends churchs youth group did this wonderful drama. it was really moving". they are definitely moving, just not in the way she was thinking.

  8. elizabeth says

    Please, please, don't ever, ever use the phrase "Gloves of Love." I feel like a sweaty heathen for pointing this out, but, um, it's got some secular connotations that, um, yeah…

    • Brian Coday says

      HEHEHE!! Hey Buck! One of my Facebook friends alerted me that I had a shout out on this site. Glad it was from you! I'm honored that you took the time to post this!

      Now it doesn't seem so silly that I used to pass out those special WWBD bracelets to the youth group, does it??? ;)

  9. MDy says

    I've noticed that my youth pastor has the "hip" office. He never uses his overhead light, just works by the light of a bunch of lamps and his blindingly bright Mac screen. He's also the one with a big red couch and obscure artwork by his students centered around the youth church logo.

    I thank God for him! He's done wonders with our youth!

  10. says

    I thank God for Jim Grant… he used to ask questions in class – and of course all the answers were, "Jesus" – and give out dollar bills for correct answers. I'm pretty sure the senior pastor never had to deal with that kind of bribery.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

  11. Lynnette says

    I'm thankful for the youth pastor at Shiloh UMC Cincinnati. Brent is the best I've come across in a very long time – the youth pastor I wish my kids would have had. He brings it – not just for one youth night, but multiple youth nights, an afterschool program for the kids from the middle school across the street, activity after activity that challenges our youth to think about what they believe, why the believe, and share it with their friends. It's amazing.

    This week he's got 35 teens plus adults in Louisana on a mission trip and I know he's bringin' it every single day. He lives out what he believes, speaks their language, and models what being a Christian is about. He never comes across as perfect, but a work in progress.

    Every church needs a Brent. Too bad we can't clone him. Or can we? How'd that sheep turn out?

  12. says

    I hate to be "that girl" but I think you mean emo Robert Pattinson…. I feel ridiculously lame at the moment for knowing that, and for correcting it.

    Moving on…. I thank God for Scott Peace. He is one of the biggest reasons that a 13yr old very southern me didn't feel completely out of place when she moved to Upstate New York from North Carolina. He did amazing things with that youth group and is still doing great things in his new church!

    • Jon says

      I meant Robert Smith, the lead singer for The Cure. That was a layered pop culture reference in which I mentioned something current, Twilight, and something from the 80s, Robert Smith.

      • says

        Thanks for clarifying. I was pretty sure it was intentional, but I didn't get the reference. I see now that it was silly of me to not get the standard mix of of pop culture references. Clearly I need to brush up.

  13. says

    I thank God for Nick the Geek. No, he's not my youth pastor, but he is a friend. I know what a huge heart he has for the kids in the community he serves. The job can be pretty thankless sometimes, and yet he keeps looking for creative ways to engage the youth and pointing them towards Christ.

  14. says

    As military chaplains we get this same thing….. A LOT and from peers that we actually went to seminary with. "So, when are you going to get out and go in to the ministry?" The average age of person we minister to is 19 except they have an actual paycheck, are buying their first 'new' car, trying to get married and learning how to do their own laundry. All while being away from home for the first time and putting their lives in mortal danger while in combat. It's like a no-mans land somewhere between high school, college and death…truly bizarre. But we love it!!!!! AND we ARE in ministry.

    • says

      I was active duty for five years, and I still talk with my chaplain from my last unit at least once a week. Chaplains are awesome, perform duties well beyond the scope of what they should…thank you for what you do!

    • Courtney says

      Our "real" pastor stepped down at the beginning of this year to become a military chaplain… what does that say about him? ;)

      btw, thanks so much for all of your service!

    • says

      My dad has been an Army chaplain most of my life…so while that means I got the double whammy of being both an Army brat AND a pastor's kid, it also means my dad has done really meaningful ministry all over the globe. I am thankful for chaplains!

  15. Laura says

    I thank God for John McCarson and Bruce Bosco for being awesome youth leaders to me 20 years ago.
    I thank God for Rob Foster and Mike Fahn for being awesome youth leaders to my own teenager today :)

  16. says

    I thank God for Chris Trent and Christopher Conner.
    I didn't have a youth minister myself, but I am thankful for these guys and the positive impact they've had on my daughter's life. They also happen to have an awesome sense of humor, I just plain like them both. They also have fabulous wives who are way hotter than they are. ;)

  17. says

    my youth pastor growing up told me i wasn't allowed to question him because i was a girl.

    not the best example of…well, anything.

    i was a youth pastor's wife for a long time. from the foundations of the earth there was never a worse pastor's wife than me. i still have the husband, he just got delivered by the hand of god from youth ministry and into rock and roll. i bow to people who joyfully do that most thankless of jobs.

    and to add to your list, jon…being expected by parents to "fix" their kids in the 2 hours a week you have them.

    • says

      Amen! My mother works with the youth at our church, and overwhelmingly, parents send their kids because they want my mom and the other youth worker to "fix" their kids….you wouldn't believe the number of parents who call my mom during the week wanting her to talk to their kid about something.

      • says

        oh i'd believe it. my favorite was when those parents would blame us for their messed up kid. and i would say as much to them. consider that exhibit A of why i made a horrible pastor's wife.

  18. Bethany says

    I am deeply grateful for Steve Otey, who faithfully serves the Lord with 150 of the squirreliest Jr Highers that I've ever met.

    And I'd love to add a #6 to the list: Jr Hi pastors only ever get vacations that have something to do with Jr Hi camp– either they are going to their own church's event, or guest-speaking at another camp, or someone "graciously" gives them a free week at a camp somewhere to take their whole family. The "real" senior pastor always gets a time share in someone's beach house, but it is automatically assumed that a JrHi pastor needs cafeteria-style dining to make his joy complete.

  19. says

    My husband is a youth minister and it's pretty funny because he often gets asked what he does for a real job. People don't realize this is a full time job!

  20. says

    My youth minister was my daddy, Nelson Turner, and I definitely thank God for him! In fact, at my wedding, we danced to Ray Boltz's "Thank You." Egregiously cheesy, I know, but so very true!

  21. says

    I thank God for the men and women who are willing to step and work in one of the hardest and most important areas of ministry in the church. Not only are they fighting against the culture, and the hormones from hell, but they they are also having to deal with the bizillions of distractions kids are trying to deal with, and a bunch of selfish, self absorbed parents a lot of time. I work with teens and 20 somethings teaching music and I love them. I believe that's one of the most important ministries at any church. That's the time in people's lives where they are transitioning into adulthood, have the most questions, are moving into making their faith their own, and also have the most energy and time to do real ministry. If they are given even half a chance they can turn their worlds upside down. Youth pastors have a tough gig… they have to harness that energy, help point their students in the right direction, model a passionate Christlike life, all while coming up with variations of drinking soda through a sock and games that won't end in a trip to the emergency room. They deserve a standing ovation and not grief in my book.

  22. says

    I thank God for Chris Hornbrook, my middle school yp, and the man who i envisioned being when I felt called to youth ministry.

    I love this article. as a YP, I often feel like I do not get the same amount of respect as the rest of the staff

    I hope one day there is a youth thanking God for me

  23. says

    Thank God for Kim and Lynell Kenedy!!! They were my Middle School Youth Pasters. YES, they ministered to middle schoolers FOR FREE!!! Now, after many years they get paid for the gig, but they still love the unloveable 7th -8th grade crowd like those awkward brates were the best thing on earth. Thank you guys!!!

  24. says

    I thank God for Jeff Harmon, Travis Edgerton and Matt Whiteford. Not only are they the best Student Ministries pastors around, they get to preach and lead worship for adults on a regular basis.

  25. SkagitMomma says

    I thank God for Tim Brewer, how in 1982 had his hands full with our group.
    I thank God for Keith and Donna Groen who took over for Tim and whom we all still love today.
    A big shout out and thanking to God for Ron Zimmer and Scott Davis of Kent Nazarene church who let me serve under them in the 90's and who are still touching lives and ministering.
    Also, to my arch nemesis, Mike Malman, former YP at the Olympia church of the Nazarene……well, there are no words! (that I can print) :)
    And finally, I thank God for Dave Miller of Mount Vernon WA, who loved till it hurt.

  26. Courtney says

    When my church started looking for a youth pastor, our "senior" pastor tried to combat this exact idea… he asked that the congregation treat both pastors equally, instead of putting the "youth pastor" beneath him in status. They work more as a team (along with the deacons), instead of one pastor having seniority. Works well in our church!

    • peg o says

      a RARE thing indeed !!
      completely unheard of in my experience … your senior pastor got it so right !!
      I love him already !!
      from the wife of a gold metal youth minister

  27. says

    Thank God for Todd Vermilyea, Scott Decker, and Jacob Kriebhel. Each one helped me in their own way, and there are parts of each one that I strive to have as a youth pastor now.

  28. says


    Very true! I just finished up my first year of volunteering in my church's youth group (I want to eventually become a youth pastor), and I have begun to force myself to like disgusting games, poop, and hot dogs. I used to hate all of those (even if the poop was a necessary part of life). But I have dranken more funky youth group drink (even made some!) and pizza than is ever healthy.

    I really liked your point at the end that this generation is filled with potential for the Gospel. It's so very true. I just hope they see it.

  29. Amy vogel says

    I thank God for Meredith Buchman! She's not my own personal youth minister (since I'm far, far away from the definition of a youth) but she is my church's and she is awesome!!

  30. says

    Our youth was always a revolving group of about 3 couples who had kids in the youth. Unfortunately, those three couples tried to leave at various times and kept getting sucked back in. They were the same couples that were there when my brothers were youth, and 1 of those couples is still there… although I'm sure they've tried to jump ship 1,000 times, too!

    Our youth were ruthless, but I'm thankful for the leaders!

  31. Brandon says

    I thank God for Seth Hodge, Kurt Anderson, Shannon and John Glaser…who I was able to volunteer under in Youth Ministry.

    And as a Youth Pastor now, this is a great post. Jon, we need to hang out.

  32. says

    I thank God for Shawn and Tricia Lovejoy (great last name huh)! Amazing youth pastor and pastor's wife. Thank you guys for choosing to be a part of a small congregation in the woods of Louisiana!

  33. says

    Kurt Andre? Two first names = can't be trusted!! Just kidding…

    I'm regret that I stopped going to church in my teens, and therefore missed out on the whole having-a-youth-minister-to-be-thankful-for thing… But all the youth ministers I know now are the coolest guys in the church. I may just think that because I have the maturity level of a 12 year old boy, but it could also be because they're just cool. I vote for the latter…

  34. says

    I thank God for Mike Holland (my youth minister growing up). I thank God for Mark Gallagher (my campus minister at Indiana State University — kinda like a youth minister. Pretty sure he's consumed many cardboard like pizzas). I thank God for David Herbert (my co-worker and the youth minister here at GFCC where I serve as the preacher).

  35. says

    Youth ministers also lead tomorrows church. Of all the people in the church with future vision your youth pastor is dialed in.

    Good insights Jon I love youth ministry and have been doing it 10 years now, it has given me the most joy and sadness in ministry, I love it!

  36. Will says

    I thank God for Dan Seaman!

    And you’re right on so many levels… they won’t hesitate to fall asleep, and you KNOW they won’t laugh if they don’t think it’s very funny.

  37. says

    "Gloves of Love." I definitely hooted with joy at that one. Brilliant post! My youth pastor, for all his faults, never wanted to be a different kind of pastor. He was the youth pastor at my church from as early as I can remember until I was in college. A lot of churches have high turnover rates because pastors are just biding their time until they can get the gig they really want. I have several friends who are now youth pastors, or in college training to be youth pastors. I've seen how hard they work. I appreciate them so much.

  38. says

    I thank God for Carlos and Xiomara Beltré, for being God's guiding lights to me during all my adolescence! I love you both =D

  39. says

    I thank God for David Kirby, Sherwood Baptist Church, Odessa, TX. A goofball, yes, but a wonderful man of God, too. AND he was skilled in the performing arts! (We had an awesome youth choir.)

  40. Tiffany says

    As a youth minister's wife, thank you for today's post! Well said! Side note: The student ministry is cleaning out the youth storage rooms today……quite possibly with cardboard pizza and orange drink for lunch.

  41. Chantel says

    Thank God for Jeff and Carrie Ferrell! I was beyond blessed to have a youth pastor who didn't hesitate to say what needed to be said.

    God bless my husband Ray – he's one amazing youth pastor :) I'm grateful for him too

  42. janet says

    I thank God for R.O. and Mindy Smith — directors of Student Ministries at Bel Air Pres — they are awesome…

  43. says

    I thank God for Pastor Ben, and Pastor Robby….My highschool and college Youth Pastors. Who knows where i would be without them. I would do absolutely anything for them!

  44. BJ Hendrix says

    I agree 100% I have served with my husband in youth ministry for over 10 years. And it all started at your home church! Grace Baptist Church is Marlboro Mass!!!!!! I served with Kurt Andre in the summer or 1993. I was a summer missionary from Ga. Kurt is a great guy! And youth ministers are special people!

  45. says

    I thank God for all youth ministers. After my high school graduation I served as a volunteer youth leader for over 6 years and I've recently got back into youth ministry (this week, in fact!). They do have tough jobs but it's a very important and rewarding job. I especially thank God for: Jeff Hazelton, who literally saved my 14 year old life. Cheri Osberg, who took an interest in this quiet, nerdy girl and made her feel like she was cool in the eyes of Jesus. Carl Walcott, who taught me the truth and power of the word of God. Eric and Jill Stephens, who were always there for me when I had drama and with whom I share way too many inside jokes. William and LeAnna Seaman, who are such good friends that they are more like family. And finally, Chad and Christi West, the youth pastors with whom I served as a leader rather than as a youth. You guys taught me about what it means to be a leader. You taught me how to love young people. I'm so thankful to be able to serve God with you.

  46. says

    I thank God for Jon Hobgood. God used him to change my life so that now I can be a youth minister to others. And to anyone who hasn't been asked about being a real minister, you should just go ahead and thank God for that. You have been crazy blessed!

  47. Justin says

    I thank God for Craig Tucker. Having attened multiple churches in my teens, not only was he a great communicator, but a man of integrety. He is the same man in church on sunday, the same man on the softball feild, and the same man when no one is looking.

  48. Amber Brown says

    I thank God for Bill Salas, who let us make him the butt of our jokes, was always there for us as student and youth leaders and would floor in in the church van down Loynes Dr ( The bumpiest road in SoCal) while I sat in the back with a few friend sans seatbelts screaming and holding on for dear life. Bill, you are/were amazing!!!!

  49. Angela Wade says

    I thank God for Curt Grice, my youth minister from way back when! My teen years were difficult, as I know they are for everyone. I had a lot of stuff going on in my life and in my family, but he never treated me as a kid who was a special project. He just loved me like he loved all the other kids, and he sure taught me a lot about Jesus along the way.

    I thank God for Chad Humphrey, who is the student coordinator at my current church. He puts so much of his heart and life into the student ministry. I know that God will bless his faithfulness, and I know that he is a great encouragement to those kids.

    I thank God for people who love teenagers. Period.

  50. says

    I thank God for Kara Stacey (now Brown) and Heather. Also I thank God for the Denton Bible Church in Denton, TX.
    I didn’t go to church in high school but in college these ladies were the ones that picked up my pieces and the church was what glued me back together. I am so grateful for the foundation I was given to grow from and start my walk with Christ!

  51. Taylor Berglund says

    I thank God for Jason Montano. I'm a high school senior right now, and this guy consistently rocks. I mean, next year our Sunday School is an Ethics class… how much cooler than that does it get? (I know… I'm a nerd.)

    This guy is a great example to God everyday for us, and he's one of the best preachers I've ever seen — in my opinion, far superior to the Sunday morning preachers. I'm surprised he hasn't gotten a serious promotion to Senior Pastor (lol… but he deserves it!) or something, although if he did, I wouldn't get to spend my last year with him. So I'll just hope he gets that promotion *next* year!

  52. Kate says

    And let’s not forget about the bronze medalist – the VOLUNTEER youth group leader. Also always being asked when they’re going to become the “real” youth pastor, just so they can be asked when they’ll be a “real” pastor. Trust me, there’s nothing “imaginary” about what a good volunteer can do!

    As youth pastors come and go, it’s the volunteers that carry the weight, smoothing out the sometimes VERY bumpy transitions.

    My little sister Elysa rocks this position in her youth group! I love her, I’m so proud her and I thank God for her!

  53. says

    I thank God for Roy and Robin Dobyns. Roy was the goofy kickball/wiffleball/volleyball expert who taught us that time with God daily gives life and lock-ins take it away (along with his hair), and Robin taught us how to make puppets walk and talk as realistically as possible.

  54. says

    "It’s true, teenagers today will communicate more, share more and talk more than ever before. Twenty years ago, when a student heard a great sermon, they maybe told two friends at school. Now, they post a link to it on facebook. They tweet about it. They blog about it. Your sermon can go viral in about 12 seconds. The ability for this next generation to be salt and light is unbelievable."

    Now, if I can just get my church to understand this.

  55. says

    I thank God for my co-leaders Jim Michaels and Mandi Wissler. We are a triune team of youth ministry awesomeness and no one of us could survive without the others. Jim, thanks for being awkward and saying all the wrong things. Mandi, thanks for quietly cleaning up the messes we make.

  56. Carrie says

    I thank God for Mike McCaskill! He was only with our youth group for a couple of years before he lost his fight with brain cancer, but in those years I saw such a dramatic change in our youth group.

    He made kids listen, he made them think, he made them see truth, and most of all, he lived every word he preached, while being the master of pranks.

    Thanks, Mike for all you did! And thank you God for youth ministers to make a difference!

  57. pbj says

    If my Senior Pastor or church (and Christ overall) can get the Gold, I'll settle for Silver as a youth pastor every day of my life

    Thanks to my mom & dad (Jamie & Barbara Barr) for being the best Youth Pastor (Couple) ever

    Thanks to my Senior Pastor Duane & church for supporting me as a youth pastor

    Thanks to the many volunteer youth staff I've had the privilege of serving with

    Thanks to me students for letting me be a part of your walk with God

    Here's to 35 more years of youth ministry (that would put me in my 70's)

    Sweet post Jon

  58. says

    i am thankful for Rev. Cindy Adcock, Tim & Kathy Naegle, Chad Penhorwood, and Judy Embree (my youth leaders in 6-12th grades, though Cindy was in charge of the choir/performance stuff)

  59. Russell says

    Nate Bock. taught me to love the Lord, but also taught me
    -ping pong
    -to wash a car (thoroughly)
    -to plan carry out church activites
    -to function in an office setting
    -Yu-Gi-Oh (sweet sweet jr. high ministry)
    -lead worship
    -love people.
    -and literally hundreds of other things that have enriched not only my life in Christ but my life in general.
    Thanks Man.

  60. Louise Emery says

    I thank God for Toby Hinshaw, Ricky Gunther, David Boncler, Richard Jones and all of their wives who put up with so much from all of us! At age 32, I’m still reflecting on some of the lessons you guy taught me!

  61. Todd VanSlyck says

    I literally lol'ed at #4, because our youth ministry did the following. a) Man in the Mirror. b) with puppets. c) and with a guy who came out and danced like Michael Jackson WITH mime gloves.
    And it wasn't cheesetastical. It was TOTALLY relevant *cough*

  62. says

    I thank God for Kent Linneweh, my youth pastor at Caring First Assembly of God in St. Joseph, MO. So much of who I am as a Christian is due to his encouragement and mentoring.

    He and his wife are now church-planting missionaries in Europe…does that make them "real" ministers finally? : )

  63. TJ! says

    Just something to add to #2 Relevance (sorry if it’s already been said…I didn’t read the comments)… Not only do they need to relate to their own generation and the students’ generation, but also the parents’ generation (if they aren’t there yet)! =D

  64. Donna says

    In the churches I grew up in, the Youth Pastor was one of the hats worn by either the choir director (minister of youth and music) or by an associate pastor right out of seminary. I suspect most of them saw going to a job where they didn't have to deal with middle schoolers a step up!

  65. says

    A youth minister has to plan an event knowing most of his group can't drive to the event. Thus the need for the dreaded van.

    As an adult I went on a youth event where the YM didn't get liability forms. He only had contact information for one of the kids. And of course that was the event where we had to send a kid to the hospital.

  66. says

    1. for our trip in june i had to collect 3 different liability forms. for each student.
    2. team jacob
    3. it's just easier on the ego if you assume every time you speak to junior high kids, one of them WILL be sleeping. don't take it personally, it's inevitable
    4. i may or may not have marginally participated in putting on a clown themed worship service. i plead the 5th
    5. i have a junior high movie night tonight and i may go all out and get pizza… the age old question begins, dominos or pizza hut? DOMINOS OR PIZZA HUT?!

    a proud silver medalist

    • pbj says

      I've got a trip with 5 forms right now
      Ours plus our medications form, the organizations form, a high school that is used for showers' form, the youth organizations' youth covenant form or leader form

  67. says

    I thank God for Pat Cammarata. I was blessed to intern for him and learn sooo much. Being a youth minister now, I take many of his lessons and how to relate with students from 6th through college. I was also once told that if someone is not happy with you, then you aren't doing your job.

    And yes, I get the "so after this, are you going to become a real pastor?" to which I reply "what do you mean?" I do know what they mean, I just play dumb and watch them say something like "oh, well…I mean, when you are done with youth and want to lead a larger group…" Gets them everytime.

  68. Jon says

    I thank God for Kevin and MaryBeth Banfield. Their patience, and relentless love of awkward teenagers was and continues to be pretty epic.

  69. says

    I thank God for Danny Martinez.

    I'm a Youth Minister. Lately it's been the most difficult and most satisfying ever.

    One more aspect of Youth ministry that a head pastor doesn't have to worry about:
    parents flipping out when they think you're are (not) teaching their kid something they think you should (not).

  70. Brian Volk says

    I thank God for Bill Hammond, Peter Hiett, and Bryce Lund, each of whom served as a youth pastor or associate youth pastor at Community Presbyterian Church of Danville, CA in the late-80's / early-90s. They are a huge part of why "The Rock" and "Logos" were actually cool to attend.

    At my desk at North Point, I have a picture of my small group from 1989 that tells about the ministries each of the 15- and 16-year-olds in the picture went on to lead. Seven of the nine guys in the picture are active in ministry 20+ years later. Not pictured is Bill Hammond, in whose living room the picture was taken, and who had a profound impact on the guys in the picture.

  71. says

    I thank God for Pete Bowell and his complete apathy when we hitch-hiked at 3:30am after our car battery wouldn't start from a 3 hour session of heart-to-hearts starting at midnight six miles away from the Fun in the Son retreat and us knocking on his door at 4am and telling him this saga and how the only words that came out of his mouth were,

    "Man, I thought you were going to tell me someone got saved."

  72. Johnny Grimes says

    I was a student pastor for 5 years and I am currently a lead pastor and church planter. Sorry to "pop your balloon" but student ministry is not near as hard as being a lead pastor. The emotional, mental, and spiritual weight of leading everyone in the church presses hard on the shoulders of a lead pastor.

  73. Stephanie says

    I thank God for my good friend Isaiah Granados. This gratitude really has nothing to do with him being an amazing minister to my teenaged son….it's more for the fact that he introduced me to SCL…which has supplied us with an endless pool of inside jokes. I guess he's pretty fantastic at the whole "making disciples of nations" thing though…now that I think about it….

  74. dwh says

    I thank God for Doug Swink and Brian King- two pastors who looked past what my peers (and even a few of the adult leaders) thought was nerdy weirdness, and treated me like a normal human being. I think Pastor Brian was the only person who never criticized me for bringing my textbooks with me to church on Wednesday nights (I had a LOT of homework and liked the idea of getting at least a little bit of sleep)- the students thought I was being a stick in the mud, and the other adults thought I was putting too much focus on my schoolwork, never mind the fact that I was a graduating senior trying to get into top tier colleges. I was extremely grateful to have someone at church who not only accepted, but held a great amount of respect for my work ethic, crazy as my workload was.

    I was a weird kid who never exactly fit in, but both Brian and Doug showed me nothing but love, and for that I will always be thankful.

  75. Mitchell's Mommy says

    I thank God for Mr. Matt Shool. He is a fantastic minister to ALL of his students, but has a special place in my heart since he shows mass amounts of favoritism toward my son, Mitchell. ;) (Not really…Mitchell just THINKS he's his favorite.) We love you, Matt!

  76. says

    I was just hired on to my first youth ministry position. I'm excited but anxious at the same time. I'm 34 (and a half). So I want to be relevant but not so much that I forget my purpose. So let me get this straight, Seinfeld references are out?

  77. Lauren says

    as a youth minister…I appreciate this
    I also invite anyone who ever asks me 'what do you do all week?' to join us for Wednesday night youth group. I gear up for that. That's what I do all week

  78. says

    I thank God for Ginny Link, who was one of the most influential people to lead me towards making a decision to follow Christ. :) Enjoy heaven, Ginny – I'll meet you there soon!

  79. Jessica says

    I thank God for Lon Swanson and the other YL leaders who never gave up on us! Wonderful people who always brought me back to God.

  80. says

    I will never forget a retreat I was leading… when one youth threw a stick… yes a stick… at another kids eye… bruised his eye so bad that he had to have emergency surgery due to internal bleeding. He was crying blood.

    All I could think… was holy shit.

    • says

      Your story reminded me of the last night of one of our water ski trips where one of our leaders dared a student to eat a furry-caterpillar-like-looking bug. After lots of encouragement from students (and leaders) he did it. Only to find out that when a furry-caterpillar-like-looking bug feels threatened, it stings whatever is threatening it, even if it is a human esophagus. Ooops. Good thing his parents were on the trip with us and really, really liked us.

  81. says

    I thank God for Wes, currently ministering to the students at our church; for Brian, who ministered to my kids when they were students; for my son, Michael, a college student/youth minister; and my son-in-law, Joe, a youth minister – soon headed for seminary. Bless their hearts.

  82. Anonymous Bruce says

    'Not once did my minister dad come home from an elder retreat and say, “Yeah, Hank Johnson tied a fake snake over the bathroom door and Mary Smith freaked out and broke her hand slamming the door shut.”
    Shame, Acuff snr, shame. There should always be hijinks on elders/church leader's retreats (though perhaps the old 'what happens on retreat stays on retreat' clause has been invoked there – I'll allow some benefit of the doubt) Our church administrator snapped a wooden table right in half at one retreat doing a swan dive during a very vigorous game of 'spoons' (lucky not to do the same to his hip!). That's the only story I'll tell out of school, but, while we don't have to spend as much time making sure nobody's making purple, most of our leaders like to relive their youth in some way on our retreats.

  83. says

    This needed to be said Jon, well done! Ha, yes, I've noticed no.3 recently, and I think my youth pastor friend actively looks forward to the orange drink and pizza…
    anyway, I thank God so much for my youth leader Dan Waspe (and his wife Jen). It was only about a year that I was in their youth group, but they made such an impact on me during that time, and some day I hope to be as kind, generous, funny and encouraging as they were then.

    • pbj says

      pizza, yes (unless it has been dinner for the past week)

      orange drink (particular knock off instead of actual Sunkist), never

  84. says

    I thank God for David Witkop and David Gerber! What a wonderful youth program we had. Also, "You might have even had a mime troupe at your church. (I would name mine, “Gloves of Love.”)" made me lol.

  85. says

    I'm thankful for Randy DonGiovanni and his beautiful wife Lori, who have taken the time to pour into so many youth in so many places over their 20+ years as youth pastors!

  86. says

    I thank God for Jeff Spuler and Geoff Nelson! (Yes, I had two youth pastors with the same name). One was like a father to me and the other was like a great older friend you could go to for good advice.

  87. says

    I thank God for Nick the Geek. Youth Pastors hadn't been invented when I was young, and my kids never had a youth pastor in our small church. If they would have had a chance for a mentor with Nicks huge heart for God while acting like a total lunatic, I think their faith walk would be a little more certain now.

    And I think the Youth Pastor's wives deserve a shout-out too. There's a special kind of devotion there.

  88. says

    You know, our youth group does all the things that your just said the youth minister is supposed to do, with the exception of the liability forms.

    When we have Youth Sunday, it’s literally Youth Sunday. Our leaders help us prepare, but we do everything (our leader has to lead most of praise worship, but it’s usually just him who’s the only adult up there). We do the dramas, human videos, sermons, and even greet people at the door. Youth Sunday is kind of “youth leader vacation” at my church.

    • pbj says

      time to add those in

      great book "Better Safe Than Sued" even though it won't eliminate a lawsuit, still need to be doing those

  89. alana says

    I thank God for Toby Smith. He was my youth pastor and since I was 16 he and his wife have been my “godparents.” They have seen me through every trial and triumph though the last 14 years. Without them I would never understand unconditional love. Praise God for such a precious gift! =)

  90. says

    I thank God for my church because they allow me or the high school minister to preach at least one Sunday a month almost every month. I thank God for my pastor because he is not only a great mentor, but an all around friend. I never had great examples of youth ministers growing up, but one did make a huge impact on me as a Jr. in high school. Name was Sarah Ann Marsalis-Luginbill, and I thank God so much for her!

  91. Margaret says

    Thank the good Lord for Nate, George and Tim. Awesome examples of godly youth pastors, godly husbands and fathers to their families, and godly men in general. So blessed to have had them to look up to as a middle/high schooler.

  92. says

    i am thankful for diandra miller and javier toyos, the awesome youth ministers at our church. they love a bunch of teens, some of whom aren't loved anywhere else.

  93. says

    It annoys me when I get the sense that a youth pastor is using his position as a 'stepping stone' to becoming a 'real pastor'…. but I have been very blessed and am part of a church that puts a lot of value on the youth and young adults.. So I really hope this doesn't get asked in my church – but i have heard it many times.. and even if it's not those exact words.. it's often implied..

    I thank God for James Turner and Ben Hafner… legends!

  94. Kara says

    I thank God for Kathy Jordan who perhaps is the hardest working minister of everything that GBBC can make her do. She is fabulous with the youth and I feel blessed to have her as my Sunday school teacher in the young married class. GBBC is so lucky to have her and her husband Ken. Much love Kathy.

    • Thea says

      How cool! I can comment on my sister's post! Ditto, ditto, ditto. Talk about two people with a heart for youth and family ministry. How did we get so blessed!

  95. evambrose says

    I THANK GOD for "Miss Ashley" although I served along side her it was still amazing to see how God used her in the life of those kids. It ministered to me in a retroactive way since I never had a "youth pastor." (I love you Goonie!)

  96. Joxwood says

    I thank God for Olive Way, Joyce Turner and Kim Hatfield over here in the UK – Awesome ladies who helped to teach me about Jesus and shape my life beyond measure. Thank you.

  97. says

    Thank God for Jason Anderson! I am thankful for his leadership, his humor, his giant heart, and his late-night chats in the Church Van on various youth trips.

  98. Thea says

    This post feeds into a convo I had with my sister lately that is kind of the opposite point. We are tired of people coming in to be the youth minister or worship leader until they are "called" to preach. We know who you are. We can spot you now. Being a youth minister or worship leader is a real, vital, and valuable ministry. You don't get more jewels in your crown by preaching. And when you hide that what you really want to be is a preacher it just makes the rest of us angry when you finally get called. We are not stepping stones or practice. As my father, a worship leader/youth minister/education minister of days past, says you got called to the dark side aka preaching.

  99. says

    I'm thankful for Larry Lawson & Rob Robbins who taught me the importance of scripture and spending daily time with Jesus.

    I'm also thankful for Michael Wood. The youth pastor at my church now. Great guy that challenges the whole Church not just the youth!

  100. says

    I thank God for all the good youth ministers and student ministers I've known (as mentors and as friends). Sure, they may spend more time Googling "Youth Games and Activities" than they do making visits to congregation members, but a good youth minister works hard at their job and spends a lot of unusual hours working with kids (it's not exactly a 9-5 job).

    And not all youth ministers are teaching kids as a stepping stone to adult ministry. I know a minister that is gifted to work with kids, but stepped up to a senior minister position when the old one left. He should have stayed as a youth minister because that was his calling. Thankfully he is still able to help out with the youth.

  101. says

    Great stuff – as a former youth minister (still cloaked as one as an Associate that oversees the student team) – this brought back great memories. I pray for our great youth pastor's Ryan and Seth now at Casas. And big props to my youth minister growing up that changed my life: Steve Fisk and Phil Lynn!

  102. says

    I thank God for Phil Weece. Without Phil being placed in my life, I literally would not be on this planet. Phil has been doing youth ministry for around 30 years I think. He turned 50 last Saturday. He's well on his way to one of his lifelong goals to be the oldest living youth minister. :D He's climbing up a mountain tomorrow at a week long YouthQuake event in Colorado. Today he's whitewater rafting. Lucky dog! ;)

    I also thank God for Travis Roberts. I get to serve in the church office here with Travis every day. I also get to serve with him during the week as a youth coach. For 24 years old, he's got more wisdom than many people I know that are more than twice his age. And he's the biggest twelve year old I've ever known! ;)

  103. says

    Can we give a shout-out to the folks who work with college students? Seriously — college students generally are still living in the realm of adolescents but they're away from home, which means they know everything. Tough crowd to work.

  104. says

    Thank you thank you thank you. As a youth minister for almost 10 years now let me just say that was a great post.

    I thank God for Tim Gartner.

  105. says

    I too am a "silver medal" minister. My shout out is for my fellow "silver medal" minister Shaun Jones who continually challenges me to be the best follow of Christ I can be. I am thankful for him and how God uses him in my life and in the lives of students and adults alike.

  106. says

    I thank God for Ken Harder, who asked the hard questions even though he probably didn't want.

    This post is great. As a youth minister i get asked that question all the time. The hardest part is that people ask me if i'm doing anything for work. "Yes, I'm a Youth Pastor." They reply with, "No, i mean like real work." Ugh. so aggravating.

  107. says

    My youth leader experience growing up was weird–he ended up having an affair and leaving the church when I was a senior or something. BUT, the impact of his teaching and the fun crazy good times remained, and so I thank God for that. But maybe I'll let my youth leader remain anonymous.

    On the other hand, I just wanted to say I liked this post. I'm a Director of Christian Education, so not actually a youth PASTOR, but I do have to be "relevant" (or at least conversant) with a whole lot of generations. I really liked what you said about teens making you work for it. Thanks for an encouraging post.

    (This is Jenn who asked you to sign her Jerusalem-dwelling brother's SCL book at Fellowship Church in Holden, MA, btw. Hi. I still haven't got around to posting the photo . . . )

  108. says

    I thank God for Gerald and Pamela Scarbrough!!

    They gave me constant laughs and made all of us feel like we were so important – exactly what we needed at that stage of our lives. The cool thing is, they weren't just doing it because it was their job, they were just that awesome.

    Oh, how I miss them and those days!!

  109. says

    “Alas, no one pays me money when youth ministers get insulted. That’s a shame because it happens.”I can completely relate to that in every possible manner.

  110. Jeremy says

    Seriously? How many legit youth pastors are out there? Easily the ratio could be 10 bad youth pastors for every 1 good one. Youth ministry shouldn't be a silver medal ministry, but the way that some youth pastors treat it, it sure is!

  111. says

    I used to be a youth minister, and I really miss…especially now that I am an accountant! I never thought of myself as the stereotypical youth minister and that is why I eventually got out of it. Not because I did not like it, but because I never really felt like the church saw me as doing a good job. I was decent at being silly, but I was really good at getting down to the serious business….some people do not want that from the youth minster, they would rather have "orange drink and pizza." (I did not go to a church that had an official youth minister)

  112. dawngreen says

    I thank God for Will and Christine Penner. Youth ministers in every sense who taught some parents along the way, too. Why, without them I would never have survived the Skillet "mosh pit", nor would I have met Crowder or walked the labryinth at AtlantaFest.
    Good times.!
    I would also thank God for Mike and Kim Allen—YoungLife leaders and great role models.

    God bless each of you who pours his/her life into the lives of teens.

  113. Giovanni says

    Hi John I hope this Poem is appropriate for your blog.

    My Royal Family

    With your word you have set me free,
    Ignited my spirit, like you, I strive to be.
    Free! no ties , no lies, binding me.
    By your mercy, your grace, at last I can see.

    Your yoke hangs gently around my neck,
    easy and light, just like you had said.
    If not by you, then who? This I can not fathom,
    I belong to you, this is not random.

    By choice?… My choice?… How can this be?
    Wasn't it He, who chose to save me.

    Mercy and grace, given abundantly.
    Eternally grateful for adopting me.

    From that day forward, I awake Free.
    No longer enslaved by powers other than thee.

    Royal garments, I now own.
    By my Father Given , who covers skin and bone.

    I Pick up My Scepter! On goes my Royal Robe!
    My Fathers the king, I now sit by His throne.

    First born yes! That is me,
    First born of His Royal family.

    By: Giovanni

  114. says

    Youth pastors really are at the front lines of ministry. If we look at when people make a decision to follow Christ, it's the teenage years that are the most formative.
    If churches take youth ministry more seriously, it will be reflected in (1) how well the youth pastor's family is taken care of, (2) what kind of resources the youth ministry gets, and (3) what kind of influence the youth pastor has in church-wide decisions.

  115. MrsHandley says

    I thank God for Jeff Wisnewski… That man showed me how very powerful God's Word is all by itself, no embellishment needed.

  116. says

    Youth pastors and ministry workers get a bad rap and aren't taken seriously. Whether bringing the gospel to teenagers or to 40-year-olds, the message is the same, the ministry is the same. It just wears different outfits. Youth ministry is vital to the future of the church – that is, if it's not just fun, games, and orange soda. Youth ministry is an outreach and a discipleship ministry to young men and women who will serve the Lord as adults. Train them up now.

    1 Timothy 4:12: "Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe."

    I praise God for Chris, my youth pastor as a youth, and for Ray and Dan, current and recent youth pastors in my church's ministry.

  117. Anna says

    As a Christ-follower who is no longer a "Christian," I honestly think it's annoying when people constantly link to sermons and Bible verses on facebook. Sure, these are great things. However, it lends a false air of piety when I know these people and know they don't behave in a Christlike manner. It's alienating.

  118. Charlotte says

    I thank God for Dick Dietrich AND Troy Norling.

    They worked together to make the dreaded transition between youth pastors easier.

  119. Anne Thorp says

    I thank God for Aaron Redelsperger, who told the whole youth group to make friends with the new girl and helped me gain one fantastic group of Christian friends that keep me grounded. You rock, Sperger.

  120. Shutterbug77 says

    I thank God for my daughter’s Youth Pastor, Mike Brockmeier. I am thankful for his leadership with the youth and us parents, and the way he genuinely cares for the youth. Mike and his wife Julie have spent countless nights praying for our youth, either because they were in crisis or for their salvation. We are blessed to have such people in our lives.

  121. youthgrouptshirts says

    Awesome post … well put. Far too long youth ministers have felt and been treated like a step child among the staff. While some senior pastors recycle messages that they preached 20-30 years ago … youth pastors could never get away with that. The culture changes too fast. Thanks for the insight and great words!


  122. Samm says

    I thank God for Matt McKeown, for bringing teenagers to Christ, even with all the drugs, violence, and depression in their lives. Even though he's now an associate pastor, to us he's still the same Pastor Matt!

  123. jveronicafrench says

    I thank God for my husband’s youth pastor, Jason Jones. Jason gave my husband a place to belong, have friends and fun when he needed it most. He is also still a good friend and great encourager for us.

  124. Elizabeth says

    I’m sure Robert Smith would make a great vampire, but the Twilight peeps hired Robert Pattinson to play Edward… just trying to help you stay relevant. You’re welcome.


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