I’m not going to pretend like I can relate to you as a youth pastor. I don’t have kids yet, and I don’t have the level of commitments you do as parents. But how about this? I’m a pastor, and sometimes us pastors get so caught up in “doing God stuff” that we forget to “participate in God stuff.” The difference may seem subtle, but it’s extremely important — it’s not always easy to “be” with God when all you do and say is “about” God. The ability to meet with God always is intentional when it’s personal, and I too don’t always prioritize the intention.
We’re only a few weeks in, maybe this week is the first week for you, but church programs are starting up. (If you’re reading this blog, I, the writer, am starting with the assumption that you, the reader, are part of a local congregation.) It may seem like one more thing to add to your schedule, but I want to plead with you how extremely important faith is to the life of your student. A 2010 study shows that 63% of students emerging from Evangelical background have remained in the church. (I’m not going to expand any further on the evangelical debate than this: I think current Reformed accents of youth ministry are often influenced by Evangelical methods.) The most important stage of encouraging your student in their faith is now, so don’t miss that opportunity.
Youth Pastors have a deep love for students, and especially your student. Maybe you have some history with your youth pastor which you’re not happy with. You’ve felt that “The Youth Pastor didn’t spend enough time with my student, so why would I encourage him or her to go?” We may not be the best at our jobs, and maybe it seems like every now and again other students “get more attention.” But heed this caution: you don’t know what that person could be dealing with and we do. The things we hear from students break our hearts, and when they break, we bend. Students share their darkest secrets with us, and sometimes those secrets need prayer, Scripture, and friendship. If your student has felt neglected, we need to know, but it could simply be a sign that he or she is extremely healthy.
Finally, we’ve invested a lot in this year. We are so thrilled about laughing, crying, running, and dying (of energy and sin of course, I truly pray no-one literally dies). The thoughts floating in our heads are big, they’re hopeful, and they’re full of hope for God’s love to flourish. If you need to know those thoughts, chances are we’ve just failed to share them with you. Call your youth pastor. Invite him or her for coffee or lunch. Ask him or her what they might be most excited about. I’d love to tell you!
Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?
the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows
are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents,
with your quivers full of children!
Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you;
you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep.
Be encouraged, not discouraged, because of the responsibility you have as parents. There is so much to do, but the greatest thing you can do is invest in the faith beliefs of your children. And us youth pastors are here for just that. Take advantage of that opportunity.
Grace & Peace,
– Your Youth Pastor