Youth Ministry: Shadowing the Shepherd
- 2004 13 May
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. (Acts 20:28 - NIV)
Last week I encouraged us to take a close look at our priorities and consider whether or not we actually practice what we preach as diligently as we should. The reason I started this current series of devotions with priorities is simple: that's where youth ministry starts; our relationships with Christ and then our own homes. Today we continue with the next step in building an effective relationship-based ministry that transforms students: pastors.
Whether we are full-time paid or volunteer youth leaders in a church or a parachurch ministry, we have the responsibility of following the leadership and authority of another minister called to lead the Body of Christ locally. That shepherd carries the title of pastor. Perhaps he/she is the sole paid pastor on staff or the senior pastor of a multi-staff congregation.
Regardless, they have been commissioned to "Be shepherds of the church of God..." as we read in today's text. The youth ministries we lead must come under their jurisdiction and judgment. That only makes sense. Let's really think about it.
My conversations with youth leaders frustrated about their relationship with the pastor are common. I hear complaints from "he doesn't trust me" to "she doesn't care about youth ministry" and everything in between. Now, it would be real easy right hear to start pointing blame and removing our own responsibility, but we are not going to do that!
"Your personal relationship with the pastor might be the most crucial connection you have."
Instead, I want to give you some practical advice that will create positive results in your personal relationship with the pastor. Listen closely! Your personal relationship with the pastor might be the most crucial connection you have. Without their understanding and support, your ministry will struggle. Here are three ideas I implore you to practice:
This should go without saying, but are we praying daily for our pastors, their ministries, their families, and the personal lives? Without this spiritual connection to our pastors, we should not plan on having a personal connection that empowers us to have a more effective youth ministry. Our youth ministries are an extension of the overall mission of the church they are called by God to lead.
Jesus set a great example for us as He often showed us light-hearted times and fun with His 'ministry team'. If ministry leaders do not take time outside of daily work to play, then we never get to know the complete person(s) we serve with. Set time aside in our busy schedules to make opportunities to pull our pastors away from their responsibilities and create occasional atmospheres of fun and games.
Far to many youth leaders are "wing-it junkies." A well-planned youth ministry that is communicated to the pastor consistently allows him/her the ability to not only be aware of what is happening and going to happen, it provides them with the needed information to promote your ministry with confidence. That is one of the greatest benefits of constantly communicating your ministry plans and programs.
Of course, I could list many more simple ideas, but hopefully, you get the point. We need active and growing healthy relationships with our pastors. Just like with students, these relationships require time, and we must make time to build these vital connections.
Take an interest in the pastor. Personally. Professionally. Privately. Don't expect them to come to us and initiate the conversation. Should they? Yes, but if we count on it we might just be disappointed. Spending time in the shadow of the shepherd in our churches will set us up for greater success as we reach young people with love of Jesus Christ.
Pray about that today and remember that youth ministry is all about relationships.
(c) 2004. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint may be obtained at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Timothy Eldred is the President of One Passion Worldwide (OPW) in Branson, MO and the founder of 1:1 Solutions Seminars. While he travels extensively teaching principles of relationship-based ministry to churches, he continue to serve as the Teaching Pastor of New Beginnings Christian Family Fellowship in Six Lakes, MI. Tim resides in Edmore, MI with his wife, Cindy, and their two sons.