This article first was printed in the "Fairhaven Fundamentalist" Published by the Fairhaven Baptist Church of Chesterton, Indiana - 1999 Volume 3
Permission was granted by Brother Steve Damron, Associate Pastor to include it on this site at my request. All emphases are mine, but the text is unchanged.
THE YOUTH PASTOR
by Pastor Steve Damron, Associate Pastor
Let me start by posing to you, my reader, a hypothetical situation. You have been placed in charge of a group of teens and have traveled
to a youth meeting for a week of fun and spiritual help. Your teenagers did well all week, worked hard, and gave you relatively no trouble. With this as the background, during the week you justify taking the teenagers on a trip, skipping one of the preaching services. As a reader, do you see a problem with this? Would this be okay since they had heard preaching all week and you wanted to reward their good effort?
Why would I pose this problem to you? More often than not, fun is chosen over preaching. What has happened in America? Church youth groups have accepted a philosophy similar to the Boys Clubs of America. "Keep them busy and off the streets." This is the idea of some youth ministries. The type of activity does not really matter, just that we have activity. Do you as a youth pastor think through your activities to maximize spiritual growth? Is your philosophy to "keep them active" or to "grow them spiritually?" The world tells us to keep teenagers active. Thus, we have sports clubs, boys clubs, speech clubs, midnight basketball, and on and on we could go. Are we any different as youth pastors if we do not have a spiritual reason for the activity?
Let me challenge you with a question. Are you a youth pastor or youth director? What is the difference? I am not just trying to play with words. There is a big difference. A youth director is in charge of directing activities, such as does a director of a Nursing Home, boy's club, etc. A youth pastor is a pastor of youth. Do we, as teen pastors, have the qualifications fitting to lead our teenagers spiritual lives? We often look at Timothy and Titus to see the qualifications of a pastor, but should they be different for a youth pastor? How much do you edify or build your teenagers? This is a qualification for a youth pastor also. If the youth group is worldly, should you not direct their focus away from the world? A youth pastor should be closely in contact with the spiritual direction of his youth group.
It has often been stated that the teenage years are the most important in developing the sharp edge for adulthood. Yet most youth pastors do not take advantage of the energy and moldability of teenagers. They direct activities and forget about spiritual preparation and molding. Hebrews tells us that we watch for their souls. Do you as a youth pastor realize that it is your job also to help guide a teenager's soul? It is not a game. If there are immoral problems, you should expose and deal with them.
Youth pastors are constantly working and pushing their teenagers forward. Youth directors care only about how much fun the teenagers had at their activity. Most teenagers have an enormous supply of energy, yet most teens waste these energy-filled years with laziness. They are not pushed spiritually and challenged. As a youth pastor, you have a spiritual responsibility to not just have an activity, but to mold lives who will serve God better than yourself. Pour yourself into them and see what God will do!
One U.S. admiral put it simply, and I will close with his quote.
"The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war',
Admiral Hyman Rickover
How are you preparing future soldiers for battle? Are you a director or a PASTOR?