Since I’m somewhat experienced at fatherhood now, maybe I need to write a few more posts with fatherly advice. Hard to believe our oldest will be coming home from school after her first semester of college this time next year. This article really isn’t about being a father, but it still became the #7 most popular article in 2012.
I have four kids — three of them have been engaged in student ministry. I’ve worked at three great churches — all of them have incredible student ministries because of their focus on reaching young families. I’ve worked with many churches across the country — some with solid student ministries, and some that weren’t so solid. What does all that experience mean? It means I’m now one of the old guys. And, since I’m officially one of the old guys, I think I’m qualified to give a little fatherly advice to youth pastors.
So, pretend I’m still your cool father. (Not the one who listens to 80s music or lacks a tattoo and failed to purchase a single pair of skinny jeans.) I’ve invited you into my home office to give you a little bit of fatherly advice. (To add to the ambience, I’ll let you sit in my faux leather chair while the aroma of my pretend pipe wafts through the room.) Are you ready?
5 Bits of Fatherly Advice for Youth Pastors
- Don’t have Bible studies on Sunday morning, but encourage my kids to serve. As a parent, I’m constantly battling everything in culture that’s telling my kids, “Life is all about YOU.” I don’t need my church to be compounding that challenge. Please help me parent my kids by encouraging them to serve other people. In the long run, learning to serve will ultimately keep them connected to the church after they graduate. Likely the additional Bible study will not.
- Provide leadership opportunities for my kids. When we become Christ-followers, we receive spiritual gifts. God doesn’t hold on to those gifts until we become adults. In other words, students can also have the spiritual gift of leadership. If you don’t offer opportunities for my kids, they’ll check out of your student ministry and find another organization where they can use their gifts.
- Don’t meet on Sunday night if at all possible. It’s true that there are no school activities on Sunday nights, but Sundays are a very busy evening for my kids. Every bit of homework and test preparation that needs to happen before Monday takes place on Sunday nights, because it certainly didn’t happen on Friday night or Saturday. At all three churches where I’ve served, the midweek student gatherings were always better attended than the Sunday evening gatherings. I know. There will be seasons when athletes may not be able to participate…though you can probably still accommodate them. I believe one of the key reasons midweek is stronger is because my kids can invite their friends at school that afternoon.