I get this question a lot: Jeremy how do I become a youth pastor? Obviously becoming a youth pastor is an unique calling that entails a difficult and different process on how to land a youth pastor job. In this post, I assume that one’s contemplation in becoming a youth pastor is constantly bathed in prayer.
1. Start serving in your local youth ministry.
If you have an itch to enter the youth ministry field start volunteering your time and services in a local youth ministry. Volunteer to clean the bathrooms after youth group, set up before youth group, and do the odd jobs no one wants to do. It is essential you serve behind the scenes before you get the microphone. Make sure to pay close attention to the youth pastor. Watch his/her every move and ask a lot of questions as you are scrubbing the toilet.
2. Enter into a small leadership role.
After you have served in the youth ministry for a bit, start leading a small group. It is imperative you begin to hone your leadership skills and abilities. Identify what you are good at and what you suck at. Meet regularly with the current youth pastor. Be his/her wing man, trying to glean from his/her expertise and method.
3. Go to a secular public university.
I highly suggest the youth pastor candidate receive their degree from a public university. It drives me nuts when I run into youth pastors who were home schooled and went to a private Christian college to major in Bible and Youth Ministry. I strongly argue that youth pastors will need to be well versed in the world’s culture to lead the next generation of teenagers. It is not helpful if the youth pastor has spent all his/her time in a safe and comfortable Christian bubble attending “Christian Only Colleges”. The biggest assets to becoming a great youth pastor is getting diverse youth ministry experience in different geographical locations and having a strong ability ministering to kids you are not comfortable ministering to. Another disadvantage about attending a Christian college and majoring in Christian ministries will have no relevance outside of the church/Christian organizations. There is a great value in hearing lectures from hard core atheist who hate the Bible. In the public university, there is a social-psychology that future youth pastors need to be exposed to. It is one thing to be cool at a Christian college, but it is another thing to be cool in a public university. I have seen countless times a Christian ministries major get burned by the Church and they are stuff with a Bible degree in the real secular world. I encourage a lot of my students to attend a public university and major in that can be easily used in the real world, namely Business, psychology, biology, engineering, journalism, and philosophy. Maybe one day the youth pastor might not be paid by the church and may need a tent making skill.
Find an internship preferably in a geographic location you are unfamiliar with. Being a youth intern will give you the exposure and experience in order to land your first youth pastor job. Remember experience is everything. Do everything, even if you suck at it. In your internship face your fears. Make sure to leave a lot of room to contemplate, reflect, and to pray about your internship experience. Ask these questions:
* What type of church do I want to youth pastor? Consider denomination, size, personality, theology, values.
* What is the hardest thing for me to do in youth ministry?
* What type of students do I attract?
* What theological questions do I still have about being a follower of Christ?
* Do Church politics bug me? Do I tend to get heavily involved in them? Or do I hate them?
* Am I administratively strong?
* Do I feel comfortable preparing a youth talk?
5. Study, Read, Learn, and Retreat
Before entering your first youth ministry job, it would be wise to start constructing your theological values. Where do you land theologically? What camps do you find yourself resonating with more? It may be helpful to start looking at seminaries and attending part time. Simply get a great theological foundation under you before you fully enter the youth ministry trenches. Remember our theology always shapes our methodology.
6. Get Amped and Apply!
Interested in looking for youth ministry jobs click here. Make sure to write a great resume and cover letter. Also, ask 2 or 3 people to write you a great recommendation. Start gathering past youth talks, youth studies you developed, and write your youth ministry philosophy. Trust me looking for a youth ministry or youth pastor job takes a long time. Be patient and make sure to utilize your friends and networks. It is not what you know, but who you know!
If you are wanting to take the next step, please consider going through my youth pastor candidate application process. I love connecting churches with youth pastor candidates and connecting youth pastor candidates with churches. Click here to find out more about how to become a youth pastor at a church.
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