Student Ministry Leadership Philosophy

Traditional thinking tells me that we should have hired a full time student pastor about a year ago.  But every Wednesday night, we gather about 130 students together for a student ministry service, and we still don’t have a youth pastor on our staff.  I’m not saying we never will…but what we’re doing now works, so why change it.

I was a student pastor for 12 years, so I know the mind of a youth pastor.  I think most up and coming student pastors have in their minds that the most important thing they will do is teach students.  And it’s still true that most youth pastors want to be “real” pastors one day.

But the #1 job of a youth pastor, especially for us, is not teaching.  I have 5 or 6 people on our staff, plus several people in our church that are more than capable of teaching students.  So why hire a youth pastor, 90% of whom want to just teach, to do that?

Instead of a traditional youth pastor, we have a student ministry team.  I call them the super team.

  • There’s a worship leader, who leads worship at the student ministry service.
  • There’s a very organized person who administrates, communicates and makes sure details are handled.
  • There’s a student ministry intern college student who does the hosting and relationships and hangs out with students.
  • And there’s a young married guy who leads a group of student leaders…discipleship kind of stuff.
  • I take care of the teaching…either teaching myself (60%) or arranging for other speakers (40%)

Instead of getting a youth pastor, who may be good at one or two of these things, we have four people who are in their sweet spot.  Organizationally, they all report to our Family Pastor.

I’m not saying you should organize your student ministry this way, but it works well for us.  I’m not saying we’ll leave it this way, but it works great now.  The key is to create a system that works for you, not just hire someone because you ought to.


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