A Shout Out to Youth Pastors
Over the last 10 days I have met a lot of Youth Pastors. Most are young adults but by no means all. Some in fact are in their 50’s, but whether young or old they are a passionate breed of people who really care about the kids………really care.
Meeting and travelling with Dr Crystal and Mark Kirgiss has been an absolute delight. Not only are they veteran youth leaders with a ton of experience but they know so much. Crystal’s academic background is fascinating. A medieval and C.S. Lewis scholar who has turned her attention to youth discipleship - helping teenagers to follow Jesus for the rest of their lives. Her teaching ability was amazing1 and her insights so helpful. Actually most of her content could equally apply to adults of any age.
A few quotes2:
“Adolescence is a natural stage of life that has been recognised throughout history”. In other words it is NOT a modern construct as most of us were taught.
“Young people are drawn to the oldest person in the room who notices them”.
“Meaningful work/service within the context of congregational life is a powerful predictor to stickability”.
“Please REMEMBER what it was like when you were a teenager”.
“Historically the church has been inter-generational, meaning young and old were connected to one another. The new conversation about inter-generational ministry is exactly that, new”.
Crystal showed us 12 different ways you can read the Bible creatively. Oh my goodness I wish I had cottoned onto this a whole lot earlier in life. This hit me personally with fresh impact. If as Pastors (incl. children’s and youth pastors) we can help our children, teenagers, young adults AND older adults read the Bible creatively and in the process help them to ‘love’ The Book then that increases the odds to set our people up for a life that is Word centred.
Back to youth pastors/leaders. Your work is so important. Though you are not primarily responsible for the faith development of young people (parents are) what you do is extremely valuable. And for teens from non-Christian homes your role and your work is…….well yes…….indispensable.
And finally one encouragement to all congregational leaders. Please figure out ways to 1) love the kids you already have and 2) catch the kids you don’t yet have. And by kids I mean babies to 18 year old’s.
1 Crystal’s two sermons at Gateway Church last Sunday were quite something. She is a master ‘story teller’ and did a fresh take on two well-known stories in the Gospels. In the morning she preached about the Prodigal Son (The Loving Father) and at night about Peter in the boat all the while weaving in some insights from C.S. Lewis. You can listen to them here.
2 We have 5 copies left of Crystal’s most recent book titled ‘In Search of Adolescence-A new look at an old idea’. Cost $25.00(includes P&P). For $5.00 we can send you a full set of notes. Please send an email to Liz if we can assist you.
Alan Vink is currently the Executive Director for LeadershipWorx. Prior to this role he has been the Executive Director of Willow Creek Association NZ (WillowNZ), a Baptist pastor (23 years), Bible College teacher, and church consultant.