Youth Ministry is NOT A Stepping Stone

Youth Ministry is NOT a stepping stone to get you to the “big show.”

Back in the medieval days of youth ministry, it was common practice for aspiring pastors to “do time” working with the students of the church as they waited for the call to move into an adult sized pulpit. You can sit with just about any current pastor and listen to the stories of, “When I was a youth pastor…”

I understand that this was the way it was. Youth ministry wasn’t what it is now. And serving as the youth worker was what churches did to help train and prepare young rising pastors. But with as far as we’ve come at establishing youth ministry as a career calling, why are pastors still filling so many youth pastor positions.

I knew my call as a teenager. Student ministry was what God was calling me to. As I looked at colleges, I looked specifically for schools who offered a degree in youth ministry. At the time, there weren’t very many. But now, most Christian colleges are offering a degree or at least a minor in Biblical studies and teaching. More and more churches are looking for prospective candidates with a degree or training in youth ministry. And yet, many churches are still hiring the would be adult pastors. Why?

Is it the seminary training? Is it something in our church culture that still causes us to think that youth ministry is an entry level position? And why are pastors who want to serve the adult church taking jobs away from potential career youth workers?

Is it okay that churches are hiring “stepping-stone pastors?”

What do you think? Are there any dangers in churches hiring pastors to be youth workers realizing they will only be around for a couple of years at best?

What value is there in churches hiring career minded youth workers who are looking to build lasting, healthy student ministries?

As a career youth worker, I’m really struggling with this and would love to hear your thoughts and stories.

Please comment below or email me and I’ll share your story. Thanks.

– jay

2 thoughts on “Youth Ministry is NOT A Stepping Stone

  1. Great post. Keep pushing that idea. We are not in this because we want something else. We are in this because Teenagers and parents matter. Because God has gifted us to be uniquely gifted to love, care and disciple them. Because we believe that we are “called” to do ministry to a group of people that we believe are both the Future of the church as well as the present of the church. God is good and I don’t know why he uses me in this.


  2. Thankfully, people have finally stopped asking me when I was going to become a “real” pastor. I always thought that was a funny questions because I always knew that student ministry was where I would spend my life. I sometimes wanted to ask them when they were going to become a “real” lawyer, teacher, business owner, etc. 🙂

    I am blessed to have a friend who retired from youth ministry after 30 years of service to the church I now serve at and 40 total years in youth ministry. He is the one that has paved the way and made our church understand the importance of the youth pastor.


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