Finding Love in Youth Ministry
Waking up at 6 a.m. getting ready to meet students at Chick Fil A for our Monday morning Bible study does not happen by accident. Instead, because of love for students and student ministry, youth pastors wake up to disciple and do life with their students.
This June, I will begin my 14th year in student ministry. I started this journey because of my love for God, but I have stayed in because of my love for youth ministry. Yes, there are parts of the job that I may not like all the time, but I love sharing God’s Word with teenagers daily. Someone asked me a few years ago this question, “What is your favorite thing about student ministry?”
My favorite thing about student ministry is seeing students being transformed by the Gospel. I have seen athletes, actors and academically driven students all grow in their faith and impact their schools through Jesus Christ.
I found love in youth ministry through doing ministry daily with my wife, Leigh. Nothing makes me fall deeper in love with ministry than watching my wife counsel, disciple and invest in students. I also found love in youth ministry because my walk with God grew to a whole new level because of discipleship relationships with students. It challenged me to take my walk to the next step.
Looking at these four different areas briefly shows why I fell in love with student ministry. The rest of the story happens through friendships, worship services and doing life with students. I remember my calling into ministry like it was yesterday, God spoke to me through His Bible and my prayer life.
I did not enter student ministry to climb the ladder; I started doing student ministry because there is a generation of students who come to our churches weekly in need of someone to spiritually direct and guide them through life.
Youth Ministry is messy.
I do not think there is any nicer way to explain doing youth ministry. Teenagers are still finding out who they are and future plans. Students have many different struggles, events and expectations put on them. Many students within the ministry where I serve have jobs, athletic teams and pressure from school. Within each student ministry exists future college athletes, professors, pastors, lawyers, missionaries and business owners. For every student that steps into our ministries we only get 4-6 years to invest in them, and students want someone to listen, spend time and care about them.
Youth Ministry is life changing.
Sixth-grade and seventh-grade students begin in our ministry with excitement and possibly nervousness. Students who range from 12-18 years old will come to conferences, events and weekly services with hopes of finding who they are in Christ. While in our ministries, they go from death to life. Students come to our ministries seeking truth and moral principles for their lives. It is our job to help every student to know God personally, experience life changing salvation, and go through discipleship.
Youth Ministry addresses sin.
Over the last 13 years of youth ministry, I have seen pregnancy, alcoholism, drug use and spiritual warfare enslave teenager’s lives. Parents and the teen come to youth pastors to talk through struggles and sins. Students who have stepped into my office have always come into a non-judging environment. Youth pastors want to see students come to them whether it is phone calls, texts, meetings or in our home. Youth pastors want them to know that God can help get them through that season and come back to forming Godly principles in their lives. Students should come to the church to seek help working through sin and sinful habits in their life. There is something precious about seeing parents and the church working together to help students develop their Christian walk.
Youth Ministry meets students where they are currently.
Student ministries meet students where they are in their lives. It could be at a 7 am Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle in a local school or at an after-school program within a school. Students want us to meet them at their place of comfort. Think of it as coming to their turf to hang out with them. Teenagers feel valued and appreciated when they see their youth pastor show up to their events.
Every day in America, youth ministries are impacting students, though there will be many different struggles, pain, joyful and rejoicing moments. I would not trade it for anything. Take a moment and remember your calling into student ministry and how God uses you daily to impact His Kingdom.
My prayer is that you daily fall deeper in love with God and student ministry.
SCOTT TALLEY has been doing youth ministry for 13 years. He serves at Ebenezer Baptist in Hillsborough, NC as the Pastor of Students. Talley has studied and written on youth ministry and received his Doctorate in Global Mobilization at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Talley seeks to help fellow youth pastors reach teenagers with the Gospel, while also engaging students to make disciples locally and internationally.
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.