As we consider different ways that we, as youth pastors, can establish an influential voice in our church, we must remember the best way we are able to do this is by doing our jobs. As we minister to students we build credibility with their parents, yet there is one student in your youth group whose parents have the ability to make your voice be heard or drowned out above everyone else, and that’s your pastor’s child. As youth pastors, we sometimes forget our pastors are just like our other parents. They don’t always have it together and they’re doing the best they can to navigate their teenage child through the nasty pits of this world. Yet, we have the amazing opportunity to come alongside our pastors and minister to them in ways our other staff members can’t.
Now before I share how we can minister to our pastor’s child, I want to be clear: this is not a manipulation tactic to advance your own agenda. If this is the reason why you’re going to minister to your pastor’s child then you need to do some serious reflection on your role as a youth pastor. There is no other student in your youth group that will get pigeon-holed into a stereotype like your pastor’s child. They will deal with unspoken pressures to act a certain way, and they will see the messy side of church only reserved for staff members. Furthermore, you will want to minister to your pastor’s child because you too will one day have a child in their predicament, and you will want someone there to provide the same ministry you provided for your pastor’s child. With that said, here are 4 ways you can minister to your pastor’s child:
Speak highly of their parents
Every child wants to know their parents not only do right by them, but others as well. This is especially true for a pastor’s child since their parents are involved in world were people “shoot their own.” They need to know their parents made the right choice when they were being obedient to the call God placed on their life, and you can do that by sharing the many victories their parents are involved in. Furthermore, a pastor’s child needs to continually be reaffirmed their parents are doing a great job, because of the many disgruntled church members who will voice their opinion about the pastor’s decision. And the last thing they need to hear is their youth pastor chiming in with the rest of the crowd.
Open your home
You may already do this for all of your students, but make sure your pastor’s child has a personal invitation to your household. Church life has the ability to spill over into the home, and pastor’s child needs a safe place to just be away from it all. Our houses have the opportunity to be a safe haven for our pastor’s children to just breathe and be themselves. Moreover, make sure your pastor knows their child always has an open invitation to your place, in case of emergencies or when an unexpected “church meeting” takes place.
Affirm their choice to follow Christ
A pastor’s child may not have a choice when it comes to the life their parents have chosen for their family, but they do have a choice when it comes to their relationship with Jesus Christ. This one truth will help your pastor’s child navigate the trials that will challenge their faith. Remind them often that they choose the type of relationship they have with Christ, and how discipleship looks like to them. They live in a world where it can feel like their entire faith is forced on them, let them know they own their faith and nobody else controls it.
Don’t put unrealistic expectations on them
Because of their status as a pastor’s child, we can place higher expectations on them we wouldn’t normally put on other students. When we do this, we automatically set them up for failure. We need to remember they are teenagers, which means they too deal with all the craziness that comes with being one. Furthermore, we need to remind the other students about doing this as well. So when your pastor’s child makes a mistake and everyone makes the comment, “Aren’t you the pastor’s kid?” Make sure to step in and remind the other students he or she is no different from them, and that they all need grace.
In the end, what I have written isn’t anything new. In fact, I’m sure many of you are already doing this; however, what I want this post to do is to be a gentle reminder you are already leading up just by doing your job. In our quest to become a presence in our churches, we can sometimes forget the one thing that determines how much of voice we have is the one thing we are called to do. Love your students and their parents, but don’t forget about doing the same for your pastor and his child.
Joshua Fuentes is the Student Minister at Second Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, TX, and works with both youth and college students. Josh has been working in student ministry for six years, and has experience as an intern, bi-vocational, and full-time student minister. He has been married for five years and has a beautiful four year old daughter. Currently, Josh is attending seminary at the South Texas School of Christian Studies and writes on his blog at millennialchristianity.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshuaFuentes85