Can I Still Be a Youth Pastor?
As I was driving home from the hospital, I passed the exit for our church, and the realization hit me: I’m a father now—I’m old. Can I still be a youth pastor?
Every youth pastor will eventually hear some variation of this question: “When do you want to be a real pastor?” Or my personal favorite: “Oh, I used to be a youth pastor, but that was so I could become a real pastor.”
While there’s no shame in aspiring to grow and move within the church to accept another call on our lives, I sometimes wonder if we put limits on ourselves regarding how long we can serve. This is especially true in student ministry, where the perceived need to stay relevant is all over the place.
That’s exactly where I was when I became a father. Would students listen to me now that I was a parent? Would they trust my advice and guidance, or had I become just another adult who didn’t understand? Could I still speak to them in a way that connected meaningfully?
As these questions raced through my mind, I thought back to my two favorite youth leaders when I was in middle and high school. Todd was in his late 30s and married with school-age daughters, but he opened his home to my small group every week. I loved hearing what he had to say and that he wasn’t trying to be cool—he just was cool. The same went for Ken. He was likely in his mid 60s, but everyone wanted to talk to him. How did these guys stay so cool?
It was then that a concept I’d been working through flooded back into my mind: relevant versus accessible.
If I want always to be the latest-and-greatest-with-the-coolest-shoes kind of youth pastor, a life event such as having a child might hurt my street cred. If all I’m about is trying to be relevant—always trying to keep up with the curve on every trend—I can’t maintain that. What’s worse, I’d be forced to be something I’m not.
But if I make my focus being accessible, everything changes! I’m free to be myself, experience the changes of life, and live freely within my calling to student ministry. I might not always wear the latest fashions or know all the cool slang to drop into a sermon, but I’ll be real. I’ll always be myself, and I’ll never have to change simply to keep up.
Every day, our students see so much that’s fake and manufactured that they have a desperation for something—anything—real. There’s nothing more real than the life change the gospel offers. Let’s live it out in our lives and be free to celebrate it in theirs.
Mitchell Moyer has served in youth ministry in various capacities over the last six years and currently serves as the Youth & Worship Pastor at Brown Corners United Brethren Church. He’s married to his best friend and ministry partner, Lia, and looks forward to coming home every night to newborn daughter Averly. You can follow him on Instagram, @mtmoyer or at his website, www.mtmoyer.com
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.