A letter from a Young Youth Pastor to the Older Youth Pastor’s

Dear Older Youth Pastors,

I apologize. I really am sorry for the miscommunication’s we have had in the past. Many of us younger Youth Pastors have bought into the lie that Your way of doing Youth Ministry is outdated and doesn’t work, and some of us may have said some hurtful things the last few years about your effectiveness in reaching teens. Foolishly, we seem to have forgotten, that for many of us we would not be where we are today, in Youth Ministry (Heck, still in the church at all even) without you. Did we really say your ways and methods are outdated? That was dumb, they got us here didn’t they.

I look back at when I was a student ( 8 years for me, which seems like an eternity, though I know its nothing compared to how long You have been doing this), and I remember my Youth Pastor, my mentor, and a great friend, sharing with me frustrations he saw in the Youth Ministry world. So now that I have been doing Youth Ministry for 6 years (again, nothing compared to you), and I see some of the same similar problems going on that frustrated him nearly a decade ago, I have to wonder “How have things not gotten better?” Because it could even be stated that according to some statistics, things in Youth Ministry have gotten worse.

Unfortunately, some of us have looked at You as the problem, and not seen that You are part of the solution.

The past few weeks, I have read so many different posts about “How Old is too Old to be in Youth Ministry” and seen some of the sentiments many of You have towards Young Youth Pastors. For too long, it seems we have almost been at war. Us saying “Your too outdated” and your response being “Your not old enough to know what outdated is.”

I think this is unfair on both sides. 

As a Young Youth Pastor, I need to do a better job of understanding the fact that some of you have been doing this longer than I have been alive. You’ve seen a lot of the changes in methods and styles and programs. I’ve been to a lot of different Youth Groups and seen a lot of different styles of Youth Group, but you’ve Served God on the front lines through those changes occurring around the Country.

And so although it may be true, there are Youth Pastors out there doing things in a way that many of us would call outdated, for the most part, thats not you (Heck, your here reading a blog, I’d say thats a good sign you’re keeping up with the times). And I am sure that if you and I sat down, and we talked about what Outdated Youth Ministry looks like, we’d be on the same page. Us younger Youth Pastors look at 20 years ago and the old-school Lock-in ( Hey, Come to a pizza party. Oh, but the doors are now locked and you can’t have pizza until you get saved) and stupidly assume “Oh, you’ve been in Youth Ministry for 20 years, 20 years ago they were doing ‘Lock-ins,’ You must be outdated.”

The fact of the matter is this, though. You’ve been in Ministry for longer than some of us have been alive. I said it earlier, we younger ones forget that we wouldn’t be here (In Youth Ministry) without you. I apologize for the times we think we wouldn’t be here (Post-Modern Youth Ministry) without you.

You are not the problem, you are part of the solution. Your longevity is something we Younger Youth Pastors strive for. If more Youth Pastors stuck it out into their late 40’s, I believe things would be greatly different.

So Older Youth Pastors, bare with us. More than we often understand, we need to learn from you. Help us remember that stereotypes are not always true of every single person.

We just ask that you remember the same when it comes to us.

Because we get it. As one of the Young Youth Pastors, I fully understand many of your frustrations with us.

I try to read a huge chunk of blogs written by younger voices, and I read some and cry to God “Do I sound that Dumb and arrogant?” But here is the simple truth. Though 90% of the blogs written by Young Youth Pastors come off this way, the 10% of posts that are truly worth reading are extremely worth reading, but many of you will write it off because of the age.

My heart for the bride of Christ and my fellow Christians has been in such pain the last few weeks reading comments by some Older Youth Pastors and Volunteers that talk with such disdain about the younger generation. To be completely honest, Why the the world are you in Youth Ministry if you don’t think a person can truly make a difference until they are in their mid to late twenties?

The lack of respect for us younger folk is disgusting! By no means am I saying “Respect me because I am to be respected, hear me roar!” But the simple fact of the matter is that we are your peers. We may not have the longevity, but we have the same calling as you. So writing off our comments because we think we know everything is just as ignorant as us writing off your ministries because you are old, so therefore you must be outdated and relevant.

Give God a little bit of credit that maybe, just maybe, he has been working in our lives, and he’s not waiting until we reach the prime age to give us wisdom. This isn’t a “You do this, and we’ll do this” sort of deal. My prayer is that more of my generation in Youth Ministry would look to you with the hope that someday we can be in Youth Ministry and be even older, because I understand that if you weren’t called to do this and you weren’t gifted and able to reach students, you wouldn’t still be doing this at that age.

And I am not saying “Tear down the Totem Pole, make it equal for all ages” because I know that my generation has a lot of maturing to do before we can lead the next generation of Youth Pastors.

But my simple prayer is this, and I say this knowing full well it does not apply to every single “Experienced” Youth Pastor. But I pray that you would open your hearts. I believe that we are called to always have a Peter and always have a Timothy in our lives. From what I have seen with an unhealthy amount of you, you have stopped being teachable. Now I’m not saying “Learn from us, I have something to teach you,” but I am saying, I look at myself last year and read my blog posts and think “Idiot.” No matter how smart I think I am right now, I know in a year I will read this letter and think “Arrogant.”

If I rag on Older Youth Pastors, its because of the ones I follow on Twitter and am friends with on Facebook, and I read their blogs and its just very obvious they operate under the mindset that they have nothing more to learn, especially not from some punk kid in their 20’s.

If I get to a time in my life where I look back at where I was the year before and think “Not much room for improvement,” or “I was better then,” thats the day I will leave Youth Ministry.

So I’ll say it again.

Older Youth Pastors, Thank You. Us younger folks wouldn’t be here (In Youth Ministry) without you. I apologize for the times we argue that we wouldn’t be here (Post-Modern Youth Ministry) without you. And I Pray for you, because we need you in the Youth Ministry world to help lead us where we need to be, and we can’t get there without you.

With complete admiration of all you have done for both Youth Ministry and really students,

A Young Youth Pastor

 

Please also read a Letter from an Older Youth Pastor to Young Youth Pastors

22 Comments

  1. Dear Young Youth Pastor, Thanks for you letter! We must all be reminded that there is always more to learn and more to grow. We must all be on the look out for who God would use to teach us these new lessons. They will often come from unexpected sources. My apologies for those that may have unfairly looked down on your youth. It is easy to fall into that pattern because we remember how we were when we were young. We remember that but for the grace of God we didn't damage someone's walk because we thought we had had it all figured out. The humility that God stirred in us to go back to students from 20 years ago and apologize is sometimes more than a little painful.Not all of us have grown hard hearted and stagnate. Many of my peers (of a same age vs. same profession) have learned that the best of us are more about being teachable. It seems the older we get the more we realize the less we knew. So hang in there. Don't lose heart. There are great joys to be found as an older youth pastor. Here are some of my favorites. - Seeing students going into ministry - The fact that you're too old to do it on your own forces you to learn how to to equip and empower. - That losing your hair and gaining weight means that it's God that keeps the kids coming and not your hipster looks. - That not having the energy to do everything makes you focus on the things that are truly important and that God has truly gifted you to do.Sadly, at the age of 43 I think it's time for me to get out of youth ministry. I gladly pass the baton to the young youth pastors behind me. For me it's time to move on to a more suited to an older man, college ministry and missions. =) Should be moving to Thailand this year.Willing to learn, grow and be challenged, Jim
  2. Dear Young Youth Pastor, Thanks for you letter! We must all be reminded that there is always more to learn and more to grow. We must all be on the look out for who God would use to teach us these new lessons. They will often come from unexpected sources. My apologies for those that may have unfairly looked down on your youth. It is easy to fall into that pattern because we remember how we were when we were young. We remember that but for the grace of God we didn't damage someone's walk because we thought we had had it all figured out. The humility that God stirred in us to go back to students from 20 years ago and apologize is sometimes more than a little painful.Not all of us have grown hard hearted and stagnate. Many of my peers (of a same age vs. same profession) have learned that the best of us are more about being teachable. It seems the older we get the more we realize the less we knew. So hang in there. Don't lose heart. There are great joys to be found as an older youth pastor. Here are some of my favorites. - Seeing students going into ministry - The fact that you're too old to do it on your own forces you to learn how to to equip and empower. - That losing your hair and gaining weight means that it's God that keeps the kids coming and not your hipster looks. - That not having the energy to do everything makes you focus on the things that are truly important and that God has truly gifted you to do.Sadly, at the age of 43 I think it's time for me to get out of youth ministry. I gladly pass the baton to the young youth pastors behind me. For me it's time to move on to a more suited to an older man, college ministry and missions. =) Should be moving to Thailand this year.Willing to learn, grow and be challenged, Jim

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