Youth Pastor Job Description:
I oversee middle school and high school ministries, recruit and train volunteer leaders, and conduct weekly gathering times for the purpose of worship, instruction, fellowship and outreach. I also organize and carry out monthly events for the purpose of building community among students, serving others in the community, and reaching out to students that are not currently involved in the church. My duties also include leading short term mission trips to expose students to the needs of the world as well as inspiring and equipping them to meet those needs. I am also available for counseling students and parents.
Can you recall your steps to become a youth pastor?
I served as a volunteer in various youth ministries and attended Multnomah Bible College in Portland, OR, where I received a degree in Christian education, with an emphasis in youth ministry. I also served as an intern at a church under the close supervision of another pastor. Then I interviewed with many churches, sought the Lord in prayer and was hired as a full-time pastor.
Based on your youth pastor job, what would you say are the challenges?
The greatest challenges that I believe all youth pastors face today is that we are entering a post-Christian era in which many students, and even parents, have not been exposed to the church. This is due to many factors. Many students have had little or no exposure to the church because their parents have chosen not to be involved in a church.
This is due in part to the fact that many people are turned off to church because of their perceptions of church; many of which are true, sadly. People have an interest in spiritual things and in God, but due to the hypocrisy that has manifested itself in the church, many are turned off to any form of organized religion.
For those students that are already a part of the church, a great challenge that youth pastors face is competition for their time. Students today have more options for spending their time than ever before. Students are involved in school activities, sports, jobs, friends, etc. They often find it hard to commit to their church.
Another great challenge facing youth pastors is knowing and understanding youth culture. We must be good students of their culture. This becomes increasingly more challenging as a youth pastor grows older and further removed from the youth culture.
Can you recall any memorable moments from your youth pastor career?
My favorite moments in ministry are those "ah-ha" moments in the lives of my students; those times in which they "get it." They understand that God loves them and cares for them and they, on their own, make the decision to follow after Him. I love to see students understand that they are the church of today, NOT tomorrow. God has a plan for them and their lives right now. The most satisfying moments for me are when students understand this, and allow God to use them in significant ways.
In terms of humorous moments, when one works with students, middle school in particular, there is never a dull moment. Students are not afraid to have fun and live life to the fullest. They are also not afraid to speak what is on their mind. Recently when speaking to our students about finding peace in and with God, the question was posed, "What kind of peace are you looking for?" One middle school boy quickly spoke up and said, "A piece of cake!" You just have to smile and laugh!
What advice do you have for those interested in becoming a youth pastor?
Know the Word of God and how to present it, and be a student of youth culture. We must know how to present the Word of God in ways that are relevant to today's students. We must know and understand today's youth culture; in doing so we earn the right to be heard and followed. In knowing and understanding students and their culture, we are communicating to them that we care. When we care, they will listen and follow; so being present in the lives of students is more important than programs.
What education is required for becoming a youth pastor?
Most churches desire a person with a degree from a Bible college or seminary. Some are satisfied with only a bachelor degree, others prefer a person with a post-graduate degree. There are some churches in which the most important factor is experience. I have seen many churches hire youth pastors with no formal education.
What can you tell us about youth pastor salaries?
Youth pastor salaries have much to do with church size and economic level of the church. Many churches can only afford to pay a part-time youth pastor around $1,000-$1,500 per month. For churches that are able to pay a full-time youth pastor, the starting youth pastor salary for a fresh-out-of-school inexperienced person is usually $24K to $30K a year. Again, there are many variables that affect youth pastor salaries.
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