The Leadership of Student Ministry

So yesterday I was meeting with a relatively new-to-the-game youth pastor.  He is an awesome guy.  I really admire him and his story.  He and a few of his friends felt called to start a church in an area that most church planters would shy away from.  He was a full-time marketplace employee but felt called into youth ministry, so he left his job to become a full-time volunteer youth pastor.  That’s right… VOLUNTEER.  NO MONEY.  That is inspiring.  Anyway, I was talking to him about where he was at in his ministry and where he could take this thing and what it would take to get it there.  A while back, someone shared this chart with me, and it revolutionized how I viewed youth ministry leadership and what it would take to move me to the next level.  So this is what I shared with him:

Assistant Pastor:

anywhere from 1-30 students; 2-5 volunteers; leader knows and interacts with every student.  student views youth guy as a SUPERHERO!!  They are at games, plays, events… you name it, the youth guy is at it.  HIGHLY RELATIONAL youth ministry.

Student Pastor:

40-80 students; 10-20 volunteers; 1+ part time staff; leader knows every student’s name, but only interacts with a few. the student pastor primarily leads through some key volunteers.  This is the point where the student pastor realizes that he cannot disciple/mentor every student, so he begins to equip and empower volunteers to do this.

Student Director:

20-30 volunteers; 1 full time staff member; 1-2 part time staff; 80-150 students; leader still knows a majority of the students names, but has disciplined himself to select a few to hang out with (usually a student leadership team).  His primary leadership happens with the volunteers and staff.  He leads them to lead the students.

Student Executive:

40-100+ volunteers; 2+ full time staff members; multiple part time staff; intern program; super volunteers (gives student pastor 15-20 hours/week above their normal jobs); 150-400+ students; the mega-church golden boy of youth ministry.  This student pastor primarily leads staff to lead volunteers to lead students.  He is a leader of leaders.

Here is what each role needs a youth pastor to be:

assistant = shepherd; student pastor = coach ; student director = equipper; student executive = visionary

that lunch was a blast.  There were so many fond memories of youth ministry rushing into my head as we talked about this stuff because I have lived at 3 out of the 4 levels.  I was telling him that there were things that I absolutely LOVED about all of the levels and things that were very DIFFICULT about all of the levels.  my encouragement to him was this: evaluate where you are at, love where you are at, dream about the future, and plan to grow as a leader and your youth ministry will follow.

I’m praying for my friend Josh.  I know God has big plans for him and his ministry!


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