How to Be a Great Youth Pastor: A Complete Guide

A graphic with youth pastor in bold

As the Israelites said of the manna that fell from heaven, so it must be said of the youth pastor: What is it? Empirically speaking, youth pastors are half-friend, half-pastor, half-parent, half-can’t-decide-what-it-is types of things.

But what should “youth pastors,” this modern invention, be or do? What does their calling look like, practically? How does someone prepare to be a youth pastor? What is the career trajectory for a youth pastor and what’s the long-term ministry impact of the role?

Without answers to questions like these—without some idea of what a youth pastor is—it will be difficult to become a better one. So let’s explore five such questions about the contemporary youth pastor.

  1. What is a youth pastor?
  2. What does a good youth pastor do? 
  3. How do I become a youth pastor?
  4. What is the career trajectory of a youth pastor? 

1. What is a youth pastor?

No matter how hard you try to search for it, you won’t find the office of a “youth pastor” in the Bible. This silence shouldn’t scare us, but it should compel us to review our expectations for the 30,000 youth pastors across the country.

What is a youth pastor? A short tour through the twentieth century will reveal much.

“Youth pastor” is a new role in church history

Youth pastors specialize in ministering the gospel to teenagers. But before the early twentieth century, “teenager” wasn’t even a word. While the church has always been concerned with training children in the faith, youth ministry as we know it didn’t develop until the mid-twentieth century.1 Before then, the faithful work of the family and the intentional work of the pastor were seen as the ordinary means for discipling youth.2 Richard Baxter represents the ministry perspective of the pre-“teen” era when he says,

I beseech you, therefore, do all that you can to promote this business if ever you desire the true reformation and welfare of your parishes. You are likely to see no general reformation until you procure family reformation.3

Throughout church history, catechesis and family discipleship were the way to disciple the youth in the church.4

The industrial revolution caused a cultural shift throughout the Western world, impacting the structure and rhythms of the family unit. Fathers began to work in the cities, meaning that they spent less time at home. Youths also started working outside the home in factories and in other trades. Over time, Christians saw the need to minister to these adolescents and to “free these children from a life of illiteracy.”5 Leaders like Hannah Ball6 and Robert Raikes started the Sunday School movement, using the Bible as a curriculum to teach children literacy and good morals. This is considered the origin of intentional, youth-focused ministry.7

The mid-twentieth century witnessed the rise of youth culture8 and the development of “teenagers” as a market for consumer goods; these and a variety of other social changes resulted in the need for modern youth ministry as we know it.9

Michael McGarry explains:

“As these teenagers experienced unprecedented freedom without the previous generations’ responsibilities, churches struggled to know how to respond. Parents seemed to be taking an increasingly passive role in their teenagers’ lives. A highly private generation of parents also meant that children rarely heard from their parents about spiritual matters. As youth culture became more widely accepted, the church struggled to discern how to respond.”10

So, parachurch organizations arose to meet the challenge, many of which define our perceptions and strategies for youth ministry.11Young Life was formed in 1941 by Jim Rayburn; his strategy of mobilizing adults to function as missionaries into youth culture remains one of the primary strategies associated with youth ministry today.12

Shortly after, Youth for Christ was founded in 1944 and was an early platform for Billy Graham.13 Later, Bill Bright’s Campus Crusade (1951) targeted college students,14 and Fellowship of Christian Athletes did something similar beginning in 1954.15

This brief history shows that ministry to youth has always been a concern for the people of God (Deut 6:1–25). But youth ministry, a ministry targeting young people from puberty to college graduation, is a modern innovation, created in response to a changing culture and the unique needs of an industrialized world. Christians recognized a need and funneled their desire to make disciples into one specific audience, birthing a new ministry role: the youth pastor.

Pastors, Write Deeper Sermons in Less Time

The youth pastor is a shepherd–teacher for teens

There are many faithful ways to organize a youth ministry. A youth pastor’s responsibilities will vary depending on the needs, convictions, and structure of a local church. But, at the most basic level, youth pastors pastor youths. Therefore, a church’s youth pastor should operate like the term suggests: a unique, specialized shepherd–teacher for teenagers.

In many ways, the role is a hybrid of elder and deacon responsibilities: shepherding teens and serving families, preaching the Word and preparing events, leading a ministry, and laboring to equip parents to be disciple-makers in their homes.

Since the youth pastor16 could fit nicely into the elder or deacon category, one thing is clear: a youth pastor should meet the qualifications for a deacon or an elder, and the process for choosing a youth pastor should be similar to calling any other person into the work of ministry.

In many ways, the role is a hybrid of elder and deacon responsibilities: shepherding teens and serving families, preaching the Word and preparing events, leading a ministry, and laboring to equip parents to be disciple-makers in their homes.

In other words, churches must not lower the bar for youth ministers. God loves his people too much, including the teenagers in our midst, for the church to provide less than high-quality leadership to his people.

As long as a church submits to the Scriptures and pursues a youth ministry focused on fulfilling the Great Commission, there is a lot of freedom in what a youth pastor specifically does. Often, a youth pastor’s responsibilities fall into the functions of teaching the Bible, evangelizing and discipling teenagers, recruiting and leading an adult leadership team, and planning social events where teenagers can develop deeper Christian friendships. But in all of these functions, a youth pastor’s primary aim is to pastor the youth in their church in partnership with the rest of the church body and leadership.

2. What does a good youth pastor do?

Good youth pastors can be invaluable to the life of a church. They faithfully love Christ, faithfully love his people, faithfully pursue holiness, and faithfully work to build up the body through applying the Word. The key word is indeed faithfulness, a character quality (a fruit of the Spirit) which does not require any specific personality type or gift set but instead requires dying to self and committing to Christ. A youth pastor who pursues faithfulness and takes seriously his calling to pastor the youth will be a great blessing to the church and a great gospel advancer in the world.

Practically, good youth pastors do at least three things in their own unique ways. They:

  1. help teenagers treasure Christ
  2. by contextualizing the gospel and
  3. mobilizing generations to fulfill the Great Commission.

Let’s unpack this.

Good youth pastors help teens treasure Christ

Helping teens treasure Christ ought to be the primary ambition of every youth pastor. Their work should orbit around this goal like the earth orbits the sun. And this is no job for the faint of heart. Today’s teens are growing up in one of the most complex and confusing eras in modern history. They face the constant temptation to make themselves gods, and they face almost no restrictions on this temptation. The little black mirrors attached to their fingers reflect their idols: themselves.17 That’s not necessarily unique. (We all face that experience now.) What is unique is that they’re facing their formative years in this messy, complex environment.

Good youth pastors understand these challenges, and they commit themselves to expose lies and clearly present the beauty of Christ from the Word of God. This starts with having a clear, gospel-oriented Bible teaching ministry. Then it bleeds into a holistic ministry toward the students. Youth pastors get to display the love of Christ through their relationships and declare the love of Christ in their preaching; and the good ones treasure this opportunity. They recognize that nothing is ever nothing in youth ministry.

From pizza to preaching, dodgeball to discipleship, it’s all a means used to display the beauty of Christ, the Christian life, and Christian community. Good youth pastors present Christ as the treasure he is and trust the Spirit to open their students’ eyes.

Good youth pastors contextualize the gospel

Additionally, good youth pastors contextualize discipleship. In other words, they learn how to fit the gospel, the Great Commandments, and the Great Commission into teen-appropriate packages. Good youth pastors do their best to explain how the gospel and the Word of God relate to every aspect of teenage life. They don’t settle for mere negatives: abstinence talks and moralistic calls to avoid evil. Instead, they capture their students’ attention, emotion, and imagination with the positives: with the beauty and grandeur of God. Good youth pastors look at the students in front of them and all they see is opportunity: an opportunity for students to come to Christ and to go to the world declaring his greatness. Good youth pastors do not waste that opportunity; they provide specialized training in the gospel that is tailored to the ages, maturity, and needs of their students.

Consider this: in the average youth ministry, you have kids who are about to be in college, others who can’t drive yet, and some who aren’t big enough to sit in the front seat or reach the high shelf. That’s a massive difference in personal development. Yet, each age and stage has something real to learn about Christ and what it looks like to worship him. For the sixth grader, it might involve treasuring Christ more than video games. For the freshman, it might focus on trusting Christ when experiencing peer pressure. The senior might need help identifying what a Great Commission-fueled life should look like in regard to their college and career choices. This is the life span that youth pastors speak into, and good ones tailor their applications of the gospel to meet their students’ needs for today and tomorrow.

Good youth pastors do not merely meet students where they are; they make a plan to take them somewhere. Or, more accurately, to Someone. They have a vision for what students can become in Christ and they labor to present them mature(ish) in Christ before they graduate. Good youth pastors understand that they’re not only trying to lead students to salvation; they’re trying to make holistic disciples who will worship Christ throughout their lives. Good youth pastors think with the end in mind and recognize the holy stewardship of shaping a generation’s view of God, church, and ministry.

Good youth pastors do not merely meet students where they are; they make a plan to take them somewhere. Or, more accurately, to Someone.

Good youth pastors mobilize the generations for discipleship

Good youth pastors are also mobilizers: they equip the generations to get into action. Good youth pastors aim to equip students to disciple their peers and equip older saints to disciple students. This is an important but often neglected aspect of the role. Youth pastors will naturally spend most of their time with students and, hopefully, an adult leadership team. But, as the “youth specialist,” they should have a role in helping all church members engage in developing a Titus 2:1–4 style culture, where older generations disciple the younger. Good youth pastors see this opportunity and they invite other adults into the mission of making disciples of the next generation. That’s why elders, church leaders, and youth pastors must send around a message that says, “It’s the church’s job to disciple the youth, not just the youth pastor.” Youth pastors should recruit faithful and godly leaders from older generations to serve on the student ministry team, and elders should help the youth pastor identify the best candidates. Together, they can labor together to ensure that our teens are surrounded by godly voices, and this will develop a healthy, integrated church culture. A good youth pastor strives to mobilize godly adults into the mission field of student ministry and then to mobilize students out into the mission field of the nations.

3. How do I become a youth pastor?

A youth pastor exists to help teens treasure Christ by contextualizing discipleship and mobilizing generations to fulfill the Great Commission. How do you prepare for a calling like this? How do you become a youth pastor?

While there are no “industry standard” requirements for a youth pastor, if we consider the task an expression of eldering or deaconing, then the requirements become clear: be godly and make disciples. Often, a desire to impact the next generation will also be present. But in general, a path toward youth ministry will feature a growing love for Christ and his people, godliness, and a desire and fitness for the work. When these are present, these typically get sorted out in unique ways, depending on the local church. If you want to become a youth pastor, or become a better one, here are some things you can do.

Becoming a youth pastor

The easiest way to become a youth pastor is to simply find a role through a ministry jobs board. But I would argue that the most fruitful path to youth ministry is through your local church. Aspiring youth pastors should take three steps in their local church before they look for a youth pastor job somewhere else.

Step 1: Serve in youth ministry

Start by serving wherever your church has places to make disciples of young people. Jesus calls leaders in the church to be servants, and there’s no greater place to learn service than to serve. The whole point of our leadership, and our spiritual gifts, is to serve the body of Christ. You can learn the dynamics of this type of leadership by serving in your church’s youth ministry. As you do, you will learn practical skills like:

  • How to ask good questions
  • How to lead a game effectively
  • How to have fun and win trust
  • How to engage with difficult personalities
  • How to invite students to be honest, confess sin, and trust in Christ
  • How to study the Bible and lead a group discussion
  • How to get non-talkers to talk in a conversation
  • When to be gentle and when to be stern

These ministry skills can be learned through practice, and there’s no better place to practice than serving in your local church.

Step 2: Respect the central role of families

As you serve, you must work to develop a deep love and respect for God’s profound ministry through families.

Youth pastors are not the most influential people in most of their students’ lives: their parents are. You must learn to appreciate this so that you can understand your role in your students’ lives. You must learn to appreciate, specifically, how difficult it is to parent teens. You can develop this appreciation by spending time with families and doing everything you can to honor them. If you’re currently serving in a youth ministry, then an easy practice is to remind students that their Christian parents are a gift to them from God. In our youth ministry, we made it a regular practice to ask, “Have you shared this with your parents?” whenever a student would share something about personal sin or suffering. This became a simple yet incredibly meaningful way of earning parents’ trust, reinforcing the parent-student relationship, and helping the whole family flourish.

If you want to be a youth pastor, then you need to understand the value of the family unit and the surpassing value and the role of the local church as the family of God. As you learn to love the family, you’ll find a better balance in understanding the youth pastor’s role in their lives.

Step 3: Be discipled in ministry

If you are growing in Christ, if you love the local church, and if you want to serve in full-time church ministry, then you should share your desire with your elders and church community. Ask a pastor to mentor you and teach you how they think about ministry, especially your church’s youth ministry philosophy.

There are three primary youth ministry philosophies: family-based, family-centered, and family-equipping.18

Each of these has its strengths, and aspiring youth pastors should investigate which of these is most compelling. You might ask your church’s youth pastor to read Perspectives on Family Ministry: Three Views or Family Ministry Field Guide with you and help you process the different approaches. Your time with your leaders will prove far more valuable than reading the book on your own, and you’ll gain immense insight from your leaders’ experience. More importantly, by inviting your church leadership into the process of discerning your call to ministry, you’ll have a more clear, confident, and church-centered sense of your call.

The call to ministry is a process, not a quick decision. It should be made in the counsel of a community that knows you and can discern your gifting and fitness. If you want to be a youth pastor, learn to serve, learn to love, and learn the ins and outs of youth ministry. As you faithfully serve and grow in community, entrust yourself to the Lord and gain feedback from your leaders. Then, if gifting, interest, and opportunity align for a youth pastor role, pursue it and entrust yourself to your God’s good purpose for the works he’s planned for you to do (Eph 2:10).

Becoming a better youth pastor

Maybe you’re already a youth pastor and you’re wondering how you can become a better youth pastor—for the sake of the gospel and your students. Here are three things I encourage you to prioritize and implement into your youth ministry as soon as possible.

Prioritize partnering with others

You cannot cause your student’s spiritual growth. You must remember that. You might feel like it’s all up to you, but the reality is that you’re not powerful enough to make a single thing happen. You plant, you water, but the Lord is the one who gives the growth. Your limitations are helpful reminders that you’re not God and that your youth ministry is designed to be a partnership. At the end of the day, your job is to equip saints for the work of ministry, not to do it all. Practically, this means you must prioritize training a team of leaders to be youth ministers. That means you must build a team of committed people who want to make disciples. They don’t need to be cool. They just need to love people well, have good people skills, and want to do the work caring for teenagers. You need ministry partners, not friends, for the students. Frankly, your students already have friends; they need you to be mentors and ministers. And that’s what your team is there for.

Find the best people who are serving faithfully in other places and recruit them to join you. Win them to the vision of investing in the next generation of church leaders and missionaries, parents and spouses, business and social change makers. And as you go, partner with the parents too. Remember that you are called to serve and help them. Listen to them. Meet with them. Hear what they need help with and work with your pastoral leadership team to develop initiatives to help parents fulfill their duty to make disciples.

Prioritize protecting your students

You must prioritize the physical, emotional, and spiritual safety of your students. It’s your responsibility to develop a culture of safety within your ministry. Parents, and the Lord, are entrusting these teens to you every week. It’s important to take this seriously.

There are at least two main ways that we create safe cultures for our students. First, it’s your responsibility to make background checks, abuse prevention, and abuse recognition training a mandatory minimum for your ministry. Ideally, your elders will be leading the charge to ensure that the whole church is committed to physical, emotional, and spiritual safety. But if they’re not, then you need to take the initiative of training your leaders. You need to teach them how to handle certain situations, what’s expected of them, what to do, and what not to do. For one thing, your leadership team should know what to do if your students share stories of abuse or indicate inclinations toward suicide. These are just two of the many scenarios that will come up in student ministry, and it’s your responsibility to get your team prepared.

Which leads to the second responsibility: theological training. Our teenagers’ hearts are often unable to discern good theology from bad theology. They’re still learning that skill. And since their thoughts of God will fuel their worship of God, it’s up to you to make sure your leaders are prepared to answer questions and give counsel in accordance with sound doctrine. The words your leaders share will transform the hearts of your students. You need to make sure that your leaders know how to handle common topics, and you should train them with specific truths to share for teenage pressure points. Today, youth teams need to be equipped with gospel-centered answers for questions related to identity, gender, transgenderism, homosexuality, suicide, anxiety, pornography, depression, eating disorders, cutting, drug usage, and more. Give your leaders clear answers and general ways they can listen with compassion and point students to the grace and sufficiency of Christ in any situation.

Thankfully, there are more than enough resources to get you started. If you need help developing safety strategies, you can consult with ministries like ECAP, Fortified Consulting, and MinistrySafe. If you need help equipping your leaders, get guidance from your pastors and read widely in the biblical counseling literature.19

Prioritize preparing yourself

Experienced youth pastor, the biggest skill you bring to the table is your ability to help teens navigate life with Jesus today in a way that leads them to treasure Jesus tomorrow. This means your ministry should be focused on developing and preparing students with truth and skills related to Christian life and ministry. And since you can’t pass on what you don’t have, you need to prepare. Thankfully, you have all the resources you need in Christ and the local church. A meaningful mentorship with your pastor will impact your ministry in more ways than you can imagine. Still, many youth pastors should consider going to seminary.

The theological training that comes with a seminary degree will help you become a better thinker, and that’s one of the most important things you do. If you intend to be in youth ministry for a while, then you need to prepare yourself to think through the new waves of cultural changes and ministry challenges that will come your way. We can’t predict what those will be. That’s why you need to learn to trust Christ and think in a way that is more fully in line with the Word of God. A good seminary experience, paired with your active ministry in the local church, will provide both of these. For the sake of your students, don’t get stagnant. Prioritize preparing yourself for more faithful and effective ministry.

4. What is the career trajectory of a youth pastor?

What could a career as a youth pastor look like? As the Lord keeps you faithful, you may find opportunities to transition into other roles, stay in youth ministry, or do something else entirely. Depending on the circumstances, all of these are acceptable and there is no one right path for youth pastors to take. For instance, you should know that the average salary of a youth pastor in America is around $51,000.20

Now, no minister should be in this to make a buck. But there are realities—like taking care of a family, having a child with special needs, needing to pay off medical debt, and other real scenarios—that require financial prudence in decision making. Here are three common trajectories that youth pastors often travel down.

The pastor in training

For some, the experience of leading a youth ministry will shape them for the pastorate. In many ways, a youth pastor’s responsibilities are like a lead pastor’s responsibilities, just with young people. Their regular preaching can strengthen a preaching gift. The complex counseling situations they face can strengthen their pastoral counseling senses. Their team leadership can prepare them to lead a staff committed to making disciples. If you sense this is you, and you have the training, experience, and opportunity, your next step might be to transition into a more adult-focused ministry. For some, this could include a jump from youth ministry to a lead pastor role. For others, it will include roles as different forms of associate pastors overseeing things like missions, adult discipleship, college ministry, or local outreach.

But it’s worth giving one strong warning to young youth pastors: do not use youth ministry as a stepping stone. This dishonors the Lord and his people. If your posture is to use youth ministry to simply get what you want, then frankly, you’re not ready to love and lead a flock. You’ll just build habits of using people rather than serving them. There’s nothing wrong with transitioning from youth ministry to something else. There’s also nothing wrong with wanting to gain experience in youth ministry but having a long-term desire to be a pastor. That’s all normal. What’s inappropriate is intentionally using a people to build a platform for yourself. For the sake of your students and their souls, do not use them as a stepping stone into “greater” ministry.

The life devoted to youth ministry

Some youth pastors will land in youth ministry and plant deep roots, becoming a redwood amongst a forest of twigs held up by bungee cords. These are the “lifers,” youth pastors who have dedicated their whole ministries to investing in teens. These pastors want to keep investing especially in the next generations, so they decide to stay. They recognize the life-shaping work of youth ministry and the opportunity they get to impact people in some of their most formative years. As these pastors stick around, their faithfulness has a compounding impact as more and more alumni graduate from the program. These youth pastors can train other youth pastors and leverage their experience for the good of others. Additionally, they can provide stability amid other transitions within the church. For some ministers, the joy of investing in youth, mixed with the flexibility and entrepreneurial spirit of the role, will be a perfect fit, and they’ll stay for life.

The steward in between

Lastly, some youth pastors may fall into the “steward” category. These are people who serve faithfully as youth pastors and then, for a variety of reasons, move onto something else. This might include a leader who takes over in an interim capacity to keep the ship afloat while a church looks for a long-term hire. It might look like a youth pastor who transitions out of vocational ministry and into the private sector. Often, these people will serve in interim capacities, functioning as “the guy in between the next guy.” Regardless of whether you serve in an interim role or a full-time role that transitions into something else, one real aspect of a youth pastor’s career path could be exiting from youth ministry to pursue something entirely different. If you don’t sin your way out of ministry, there is no dishonor in serving the Lord in other domains. Gandalf’s words are helpful for this category of ministers to hear: “To me it would not seem that a Steward who faithfully surrenders his charge is diminished in love or in honour.”21

If you’ve been faithful, then you are free to move into other areas of service. It’s that simple. Your identity is rooted in Christ, not your ministry role. So serve him and his people, and be faithful with the stewardship the Lord gives you.

5. What is a youth pastor’s impact?

In Philippians 4:1, Paul tells the church that they are his crown and joy. Notice Paul’s love for the church. Their growth, their progress, they themselves, are the fruit of his ministry. They are the crowning achievement of his life, the impact he was working toward making all along.

When youth pastors stay long enough, they get a chance to experience a similar type of love and impact. As youth pastors, you get to be involved in some of the most formative years of a person’s life. Youth pastors often resonate with Paul when he says, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thess 2:8 ESV). Through the years of ministering to someone, you begin to desire nothing more than hearing that your students are walking in the truth. And since discipleship is a long-term game, youth ministers need to have a long-term perspective that reflects the faithful, long-suffering love of Christ. A youth pastor’s impact is rarely instantaneous, and that’s why many youth pastors should consider sticking around.

Many youth pastors long to measure their success by the amount of conversions that arise at a youth event. But a youth pastor’s real impact often won’t be measured until years later, when their students’ trust in Christ has been tested and purified—and has endured.

Youth pastor, remember this: your impact happens through the cumulative effect of your ministry. This was the counsel given to me by my own pastor, Afshin Ziafat, when I started in youth ministry. Keep the long-term game in mind.

Once I went to a sixth-grade baseball game to watch a student. I took my wife and one of the leaders from our ministry. We spent time with the dad, cheered for the students, and gave him some congratulatory fist bumps after the game. Then we went on our way. No gospel message. No prayer time. We just hung out. Over the years we ministered to this kid and (of course) he grew up. Now, he’s an older high schooler, and I recently sat with him at a Kroger while he engaged Mormon missionaries he invited to meet with him. He had taken a class at his church on engaging LDS with the gospel. He befriended some missionaries, and out of a genuine desire to love them as people and minister to their souls, he patiently listened and talked through their presentation. On this night, I just happened to be there to support him. I watched as he did his best to ask questions and engage these young, twenty-something LDS missionaries with compassion, empathy, humility, and gospel truth. I was filled with joy at seeing his courage in the gospel. Then, after the meeting was over, as we walked to our cars, he stopped me and said, “I just want to thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I mean, everything. I still remember when you came to that baseball game. I remember everything about it. And I just can’t express enough how much you’ve helped me and invested in me.”

I was blind to how the Lord used our student ministry to impact this student. In his kindness, he used us to be a part of raising up one of his children. And, dear youth pastor, he’s using you too. Week in and week out, these kids may not seem like they are paying attention. Sometimes, it won’t seem like they even care. But they are, and they do. And if you care about them, you can pass on the beauty of Christ and the Christian life to the next generation. No one will wonder, “What is this ministry you do?” Instead, it will be evident for all to see: you are a pastor of youths.

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  1. Michael McGarry, A Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry: Teenagers in the Life of the Church (Nashville, TN: Randall House Publications, 2019), 57–78.
  2. McGarry, Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry, 57–65.
  3. Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, ed. Tim Cooper (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2021), 57.
  4. McGarry, Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry, 57–65.
  5. Timothy Larsen, “When Did Sunday Schools Start?,” Christianity Today, August 28, 2008. https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/2008/august/when-did-sunday-schools-start.html.
  6. McGarry, Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry, 69.
  7. McGarry, Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry, 69–70.
  8. See Digital Public Library of America, “Children in Progressive-Era America.”
  9. McGarry, Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry, 68–75.
  10. McGarry, Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry, 68.
  11. McGarry, Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry, 71.
  12. Mark Senter, When God Shows Up: A History of Protestant Youth Ministry in America (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010), 263, quoted in Michael McGarry, Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry, 72.
  13. McGarry, Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry, 73, and Youth For Christ, “Reaching Young People Every Where Since 1944.”
  14. Cru, “Cru Historical Fact Sheet.”
  15. McGarry, Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry, 73, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, “Fellowship of Christian Athletes Timeline.”
  16. I recognize that some do not like the term “youth pastor” to begin with, because it can be confusing if the leader is not also an elder. I am actually sympathetic to this and prefer the title of director/minister. But I think it’s worth acknowledging that if a staff member is completing pastoring functions, it’s worth restructuring the staff responsibilities, or make the minister an elder.
  17. Tony Reinke delivered the sentiment of this line at a meeting with my youth ministry at Providence Church, Frisco.
  18. Paul Renfro, Brandon Shields, Jay Strother, Perspectives on Family Ministry: Three Views, ed. Timothy Paul Jones (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2009).
  19. Consider using the mini books from CCEF.
  20. Chemistry Staffing & Youth Cartel, “The 2023 Youth Pastor Compensation Report.”
  21. J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (New York: Del Rey, 2018), 131.
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Written by
Josh Stewart

Josh Stewart is an experienced minister who has served in student ministry, groups ministry, and adult discipleship. He has an MDiv from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Stephanie, live in Celina, TX, with their two sons, Graham and Deacon.

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Written by Josh Stewart