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THE YOUTH PASTOR as the thinker

It is my belief that youth pastors need to not only accept the classic youth pastor stereotype, but also add to it. The stereotype is this: A youth pastor is the random, crazy, funny, and fun guy or gal who loves kids and will run church programs to essentially babysit our church kids. Youth pastors are absurdly crazy for Jesus and he/she will make our kids crazy for Jesus.

We simply just have to accept this stereotypical notion because it is true. And if you are youth worker who does not fit the profile it is okay, we still love you.

But, we have to add to the youth pastor stereotype. Youth pastors need to be readers and thinkers. Unfortunately, youth pastors are viewed as the clowns of the church, not as the practical theologian. I strongly believe youth pastor have a sharp understanding of what ecclesiology works and their voice needs to be heard. Think about it…the best 21st church leaders were youth leaders, namely Andy Stanley, Tony Jones, Doug Pagit, Rob Bell, and Erwin Mcmanus.

During staff meetings the youth pastor needs to articulate his/her theological thoughts and contribute to the ecclesiological conversation. The elders and the senior leadership need to look to the youth pastor for freshness, ideas, and participation within the congregation. I am even suggesting the youth pastor preach quarterly/monthly and I am not talking about preaching on “youth Sunday”.

Here is the problem with my thesis; I am assuming youth pastors are being students of theology and reading everything and anything they can get their hands on. And that they are synthesizing and processing what they are reading and learning in a community (online, accountability group, other youth workers, co-workers, senior pastor, etc.)

Tony Campolo thinks: “Point blank, I am not impressed with youth workers. I find that they don’t know what’s going on in the world. That youth work becomes a matter of fun and games.

I think it is essential that youth workers need to wake up and become well versed in politics, western philosophy, current affairs, leadership theory, physics, and theology all while being a student of the student culture.

Yes, Yes, I know–trying to read everything and anything can get overwhelming and daunting. My own reading philosophy is about 70% of the reading I do (magazines, books, online articles) are more directly “spiritual” or ministry related. The other 30% engages worldly issues. Porn would fall in this 30% category. That was a joke….just case you did not get it. 99% of my jokes bomb anyways…

I realize that I am a youth worker and there is no neutrality in this post. It is my belief that youth ministry needs to be the focal point in church life. I realize my expectations of what a youth pastor is, is unrealistic and rare to find.

Essentially, I am looking for a youth pastor who will shave his/her head for the camp fund raising event and be an idiot, while reading Nietzsche, Dawkins, NT Wright, and the NY times.

A church should not just say: Yes we value the youth. The church’s actions should validate that they value the youth and the youth pastor. A youth ministry is always a great reflection of where the church is at and their value system.

About Jeremy Zach

Orange XP3 Specialist | Youth Worker | MDIV | Hot Sauce Addict | Dr. Dre Beats Lover

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