When I was graduating from school and started looking at job postings in Youth Ministry I have to admit there were a number of churches I mostly discounted from my search because the Job Description was for a “Pastor of Youth & Families” or something along those lines. It was beyond the restricted parameters of “Youth” Ministry, and therefore I felt that the Job Description and expectations would probably be wider than I was looking for. I didn’t want to oversee Children’s Ministry or entire Sunday School programs, I wanted to be a Youth Pastor.
Well… about a year ago I began to really wrestle with the reality that my ministry and my ministry philosophy haven’t been lining up very well because while I claim that it’s my job to come alongside parents in discipling their teenagers, I wasn’t really helping them be the primary disciplers aside from giving that notion lip service. A few months ago I went into a Pastoral Staff Meeting wondering how I could propose the idea to the Senior Pastor and Associate Pastor about how I could add more Family Ministries to my responsibilities so that I could begin to strengthen my youth ministry by expanding my ministry to parents and families without stepping on other people’s toes. What I didn’t realize was they had already discussed how to bring up a very similar suggestion to ME!
The Deacons and Executive Board and the Congregation all pretty much said, “Yeah, that makes sense… let’s do this,” and now my Job Description has formally changed and my title is now “Pastor of Youth & Families.” Ironic that God changed my heart in this direction considering where it was seven years ago when I started looking through openings for Youth Pastor positions.
Here’s a quick list of why I wanted to change my Job Description:
- Good Youth Ministry cannot neglect parents. Lots of youth pastors affirm this in theory, but don’t really give this too much time or effort because parents are usually already overcommitted enough to commit to anything else at church (especially if it would require them to admit weaknesses and failures to other parents). I was one of those youth pastors for six years and didn’t want to keep being one of those youth pastors.
- Parents are called to be the primary disciplers of their children. This is just biblical and pretty straightforward. Just look at Deuteronomy 6:4-9 if you need explicit proof (there are obviously many more verses, but this is my favorite).
- I should be more involved in the Children’s Ministry. I love being involved in VBS every summer, but other than that I haven’t really done a whole lot with the students who aren’t yet in Junior High. I should know them already and have a good sense of what their ministry programs are structured like and teaching.
- To clearly define the emphasis on parents ministry that was in my original Job Description. A lot of what’s in my new JD was in the original one, but there were other people overseeing ministry to the parents/families, so it was aways an interesting dance between the Youth Ministry and the other ministry leaders when we both found out that we were trying to do the same thing in different ways. This is just more efficient, but it doesn’t mean that I’m “taking over” and “getting my way” all the time either – most of what’s already happening is good, but it would be better if all our church’s resources were pulling in the same direction at the same time.
- I’m bored and am looking for more stuff to do. Just kidding… not true at all.
For anyone else who’s in Youth Ministry who might come across this post, I want to encourage you to consider how you’re Motivating, Equipping, and Empowering the parents in your ministry to become the primary disciplers of their children. I like to tell parents “It’s never too late to start, but if you haven’t started by the time your kids are teenagers you’ll be playing catch-up and running up a very steep hill.” Attend the Children’s Ministry programs periodically so you know those leaders and students. Talk to the people who oversee ministries to parents and family-needs, and ask them if there’s any way that you could become a resource to them and how you could partner in that important ministry.
Below I’ve uploaded my new Job Description along with an overview of what my previous Job Description was. I’d just like to point out that the goal here is to keep me primarily focused on Youth Ministry (I still call myself the Youth Pastor!), but I now OVERSEE the different facets of Family Ministries that pertain to families with grade-school aged children.