6 Qualities Of An Effective Student Pastor
I know what you may be thinking…
What in the world does a Director at a church camp know about being an effective Student Pastor?
I’ll be the first to admit that there are far more qualified individuals to speak to this topic who have been leading students through discipleship for much longer than I have been alive.
You see, at this point in my ministry career, I only held the title of “Youth Minister” for a 3 ½ year portion of my 9-year stint. During that 3 ½ years, and for another 4 following, I had the opportunity to be a part of a Christian band that travelled the country and partnered with over 100 churches per year leading worship for various youth events. For the past two years as the Director of Operations here at Plains Baptist Camp, I have been able to witness several hundred other types of youth events, as Student Pastors from all kinds of denominations host their discipleship events with us each year.
Why am I telling you all this?
I simply want you to know that my perspective on what makes an effective youth minister doesn’t come from my own repertoire of knowledge and experience, but from my observation and interaction with the dozens of youth pastors I have personal relationships with, and the hundreds more I have had the opportunity to have conversations with and partner with over the years.
Now with that out of the way, what follows is only my observation of the qualities and traits I have recognized in Student Pastors who are leading a thriving youth program.
Here we go!
Deep Prayer Life
As we all know, the power of prayer is not something to be underestimated. If you’ve been in the youth ministry line of work for any period of time, you understand that while it can be very rewarding, there are also plenty of times it’s frustrating and even a bit discouraging. Remaining unwavering in prayer is one of, if not the most important key to being able to be effective in your ministry. Stay the course, no matter how challenging it may be, and watch God do incredible things.
Passion For The Lost
I haven’t met a single youth pastor who didn’t care about the lost students in their community, but I have noticed a difference in the culture and environment of a program where the Student Pastor takes a highly active approach to seeking them out. To be noted, this also is accompanied by a constant pursuit to understand the culture in which students are immersed in. Of course it would make perfect sense that this would be fruitful, as one of Christ’s last commandments to us while on the earth was to “go and make disciples” (Matt. 28:19).
Being able to see your vision for your ministry come to life and the ability to meet your goals is much more achievable when you are absolutely clear in your communication to everyone you chose to partner with, as well as to those whom you minister to. Up there with a deep prayer life, the ability to communicate where you want to go and how it is you intend to get there is a definite key factor in ensuring your efforts are effective.
I’ve seen plenty of youth workers go out and try to take on the world all by themselves, only to wind up burnt out after a long and exhausting run. This is why another common ingredient I’ve observed has been the ability to “rally the troops!” Fostering a greater involvement from parents, church volunteers, student leader, etc. helps to promote unity among the church, helps with the management of the many moving parts as your ministry grows, as well as allows opportunities for folks to get plugged in that might not currently be serving in your church.
Just like your attempts to come along side students and pull them behind you as you pursue a closer relationship with Christ, it is extremely beneficial for you to surround yourself with folks who can help pull you along as well. Getting connected with other folks who are in the trenches as you are, who you can bounce ideas off of and pray together will definitely help you to be more effective than if you try it on your own. If anything it gives the big kids a chance to play with other big kids…
Desire for Growth
Last but definitely not least is the understanding that there is always room for improvement. It is more of a subtle quality, but it seems to me that of all of my friends in youth ministry, those who are constantly pushing the envelope and seeking out ways to better themselves on a personal level are able to better maintain their effectiveness as the years go by. Whether it’s through books, conferences, interaction with others in ministry or a variety of other resources, investment in one’s personal development is another noticeable factor.
Again, these are just a few of the qualities I’ve observed over the years from those I would consider to be highly effective Student Pastors. I could go on and on for days, but I’ll go ahead and leave it here with the six.
What are some things that have helped you be effective in your ministry?