Pastor Your City
One of this year’s focuses for the National Youth Workers Convention will be how youth workers can partner with schools to impact the lives of teens. This post from Ryan Miller is one of the ways that his ministry is impacting students outside the walls of the church. Don’t miss more of the conversation at NYWC and register early to save big! NYWC.com
At the ARC All Access Conference last year, I heard John Siebeling describe how it’s essential for us to “pastor our city.” He talked about how he has a responsibility to the city God has called him to—as a pastor, he must serve the people who haven’t even walked through the doors of his church yet. When I heard this I felt challenged to the core, and now this idea is a big strategy of our student ministry.
For a youth pastor, pastoring a city may seem a little overwhelming right away, but the main place I think we can start to direct our time and resources a little more is in our local schools.
You ever think about this:
Man, if only there were a place where there were a thousand students together at one time—a place they have to be at every day—a place where they’re looking for some encouragement and for someone who believes in them—a place where they all hang out with their friends who don’t go to church. Now, if there were a place like that we’d have a chance! If only something like that existed . . . oh wait . . . it does!
The local middle and high schools in your area offer a huge chance to reach out to students and extend your influence as a pastor. We have focused a lot of our planning for 2016 on establishing a presence in two or three of the school campuses in our area. I recently saw a post from Doug Fields in which he said, “Our willingness to go to them is a reflection of our love for them.”
Here are three ways I believe you can do that in your local schools:
- Earn the trust of the faculty. I was talking to Sam McDowell, a student pastor friend of mine, and he pointed this out to me. As leaders, we may have bypassed our biggest resource in reaching students by not first earning the trust of the faculty. Teachers pour out a lot of themselves for students, too, and it’s really important that we don’t simply use them to get to the students. Minster to them first, and you’ll see how your influence expands in a huge way, because they’ll become your greatest ally. Follow the systems they have in place to get involved, sit down with the principal to introduce yourself, and through it all be respectful. This is the first and most important step.
- “What’s the greatest need you have?” When you schedule meetings with school staff or faculty, make sure to ask this question: “As a school, what’s the greatest need you have? Okay, awesome—here’s how we can help you!” Ask them how you can serve them before asking them for anything. Usually, it takes a little time to show them you’re serious about serving them. Prove to them you’re serious through your language and your actions.
- Go as far as you can, and do as much as you can. As you put this in the forefront of your ministry plan, brainstorm all the different ways you can serve your particular school. I would definitely recommend starting with one or two schools and then going from there as you feel comfortable with your method. Here are a few things we do: teacher appreciation breakfasts a couple times a semester, bringing Gatorade/protein bars to different sports team practices, and getting involved in the mentoring system at the school. Be creative—the sky’s the limit!
Let this verse provide you some vision and encouragement:
Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep following Jesus.
Ryan Miller is the student pastor at Countryside Christian Center in Clearwater, FL. He has been serving in youth ministry for close to ten years and am extremely passionate about our Savior Jesus Christ, Student Ministry, Seinfeld and Star Wars. He offers resources and weekly blog posts at www.ordinaryyouthpastor.com. Follow him @ryanmiller88
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.