When I was growing up, God used many circumstances and people to affirm my call to ministry, and one of those people was my Youth Pastor, Aaron. For the time I lived in California, Aaron really took me under his wing, and though he never explicitly said it, I know he was intentionally mentoring me, and I know I was clearly mentored by him.
Truth be told, there were time’s in my walk with Christ during those years that I would not have made it had it not been for the relationship I had with Aaron, and his wisdom, advice, openness, and ability to listen in my darkest times in High School are when God really spoke to me that this is what I was going to do.
I believe that you would be hardpressed to find a Youth Pastor who would argue that mentoring has no place in Youth Ministry, because we all see it, we all understand it, and we all have placed value on it. Most of us Youth Pastors have heard it said that if a student has 5 non-parental adults pour into their lives at church, they will stick around after graduation.
The idea of Mentoring isn’t a foreign one to Youth Ministry, and we don’t need blog posts telling Youth Pastor’s 3 reasons why we need to mentor students. We all get it. What I think we do struggle with is how to carry it out.
First and foremost, we need to quit dumbing down the definition of Mentoring.
We’ve lowered the bar of what it looks like to mentor someone. An adult leader spending time with a student does not equate to mentorship. Adult leaders being best friends with a student does not equate to mentorship. You might be a great mentor at video games, but that’s probably not going to do much for the student in the long run.
There are seasons where I get busy, or where I simply take the easy option when it comes to “mentoring” a student, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. You know, where you simply spend time with them, there’s no real deep discussion, you just sort of fit them into your schedule. If I was to mentor that way all the time, I guarantee my Youth Pastor would hunt me down and slap me. It’s not the example he set, and it’s not mentoring.
Secondly, Mentoring should be the Gospel.
Otherwise, what’s the point? We’re not trying to make apprentices, we’re in the business of making disciples. Teaching students how to make powerpoints, mentoring them on photoshop, all great things, but they should be rooted in the Gospel and using our gifts and talents for the glory of the Lord and expanding his kingdom.
Lastly, Youth Pastors should be Mentor’s of Mentor’s.
Whether you have a youth group of 10 or 1000, one of the primary roles of a Youth Pastor that get’s so overlooked is equipping adults to minister to teens. Want to explode your effectiveness? Stick around a ministry for a few years, through thick and thin, and raise up adult leaders who do 10x the amount of ministry you are able to do on your own.