One of those stupid, “I didn’t mean anything by it” comments was made by a pastor again. It went something like this…”You’re going to love this guy! We both did our time in youth ministry and now he’s graduating to adult ministry in the church.” Really?! Did our time in Youth Ministry?! Is this what senior pastors really think of youth ministry?
This kind of statement comes with strong implications.
- Youth ministry is a punishment to be likened to prison.
- Youth ministry is something to survived or escaped, like prison.
- There is hope beyond the sentence of being a youth pastor to which all real ministers should aspire.
If you don’t like teens and never want to be a youth pastor, that’s ok. DON’T take the job as youth worker just because you can’t get any other ministerial position. If you go into youth ministry and then are called elsewhere, that, too, is ok. Go where the Holy Spirit leads.
But don’t ever, even for a moment, think it is something that is a rite of initiation, a punishment or something to be endured until real ministry comes along. Don’t talk about your days in youth ministry as if it were a holding pattern or a hazing for some greater fraternity around the corner. Not valuing youth ministry disrespects the teens you serve, their families, the church, the adults those teens become, and ultimately God.
So, dear senior pastor, you may not have meant anything by your comment of serving your time in youth ministry, but you communicated volumes. It didn’t go unnoticed. The teens in your church heard you. Their parents heard you. Other members of the congregation heard you. What you communicated is that teens are second rate. That one day they will be worthy of the best but they have to grow up first. Oh and when they do grow up, they get to reflect on the assumption that those who were with them in the most formative years of their lives never actually wanted to be there.