“When will you become a real pastor?”
Student ministry leaders often hear that question. Too often, we treat the role like a stepping stone to a “real” ministry leadership role. But full-time student ministry leaders are important.
Student ministry leaders face pressures, especially those in full-time roles, which are currently dwindling in the church – financial pressures, ministry challenge pressures, and home pressure.
In this blog post, I want to share general thoughts related to full-time student ministry leaders and churches who support them.
FOR THOSE CALLED TO STUDENT MINISTRY
If God is calling you to this role for this season, work at it with all your heart and might.
If you feel led to serve in ministry, you have many opportunities to gain experience, from internships to mentorships to part-time staff roles. Though student ministry may be a good stepping stone to another ministry role, it often leads to discombobulation if you plan to be there for only a year or two. If you feel called to student ministry, test the call by finding a way to serve, volunteer, or minister in a church with all you have.
Make a Long-Term Plan
You need a long-term plan for your church and ministry as well as your own life. As you enter various seasons of life, your financial needs will shift. Too many people step away from their calling due to financial pressures. Make a plan for reconciling your ministry role with your financial needs.
Help Your Church Build It
A mature student ministry leader will realize that their best and highest contribution to the church will be in developing others to serve in ministry to the next generation. You can’t do it all. A ministry of lovingly and intentionally equipping the church will be more sustainable for you and the congregation. Help your church effectively do “student ministry” (every Christian is in essence called to share the faith with those coming after them). This doesn’t mean getting upset when no one will help. It means that you do the hard work of recruiting, connecting, equipping, encouraging, and building the body of Christ for ministry. It’s not easy but it can be done.
Help Your Church Fund It
I don’t mean more spaghetti dinners. Help your church grow in the stewardship of the vision. If we want to have student ministry, we need to fund it well. As you grow a more long-term relationship in your church, you can help the church move into more funding for student ministry. This begins with a vision and moves into fruit that can be experienced by the church and its leadership.
Remember God Has You There For a Reason
Trust that God has you where you’re needed in kingdom work. While the grass may look greener elsewhere, the truth is that the grass is greener where you water it. Drill down. Pray big, specific prayers for your ministry. Build deep connections. Know that God has you where you are and enjoy it. If/When the time comes to make a change, the Lord will lead you.
Encourage Your Student Ministry leaders as they lead the way in shepherding the next generation.
Make Student Ministry Happen
If you believe you need student ministry, figure out the best ways to make Student Ministry happen. Don’t make your pastors poor. Do all you can to help them serve fully in ministry without the stress of tremendous financial pressure.
Don’t Make Assumptions
Don’t assume every student ministry leader is on their way to bigger and better things. Though I’m not directly in a student ministry position in my local church, I am in a staff position. I have noticed that over time (after about 25 years in this role), people have stopped asking about my intentions for “getting my own church,” etc.
Encourage Your Student Ministry Pastor
Student ministry can have incredible freedom, so it may be difficult to see how the impact is being made. Pray for specific things in your church, pray for your leaders, and do all your can to support them. Help them be successful.
Remember the Importance of Reaching the 18 and Under Crowd
A huge percentage of those who make the decision to follow Christ are under the age of 18. Don’t think that all the important things happen in “Big Church.” Student ministry is a huge part of kingdom ministry and needs to be elevated as much as possible by the church and the leadership. Be ready to watch God do great things!