First Third Conversations

Coaching Your Pastor by Nancy Going

Exemplary Youth Ministry is really about leadership on multiple levels -- your leadership as the youth minister, your adult leaders. One of the key findings of the EYM study is that the pastor is the chief youth minister. A senior pastor who champions and keeps youth ministry central to the congregation’s culture is critical.

Now in case you are nodding your head saying, “I KNEW IT!  That’s why I’m having such a hard time. My senior pastor doesn’t get it. My senior pastor says, “that’s why we hired you -- you are supposed to take care of it. My senior pastor doesn’t support me or youth ministry.”

Two things:

These pastors were NOT the hands-on youth ministers. They were leaders who advocated for and kept youth ministry on the front of the congregational agenda. Not a “youth ministry is one among the many plates we have in the air” agenda, but youth ministry is AT THE FRONT of the church’s ministry priorities.

And secondly, if that kind of leadership doesn’t describe your church, here’s your new job. Coach your pastor.

  • Don’t resent your pastor.
  • Don’t go and talk to your youth team about your pastor.
  • Your pastor likely doesn’t know what the EYM study discovered about the powerful leadership role he or she plays in youth ministry.
  • Use the EYM study results to help inform your pastor.
  • Work together to position your pastor in new ways. 
  • And make room for your pastor in your ministry leadership.

Dr. Nancy Going is a 20 some year veteran of congregational youth ministry.  She coordinates the Distributed (distance) youth ministry students at Luther Seminary.  She did her PhD research by interviewing adolescents from the Exemplar congregations.

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