The Youth Minister’s Role in the Church

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May 29, 2013 by Will Ray

In my first year of ministry at church, I had multiple wise people help me understand what my true role is in the church.  A few hints:

It’s not to organize events or fun trips.

It’s not to dream up and execute crazy cool games.

It’s not even to preach.

Some of those things will likely happen as we execute our role, but the true role of the youth minister in the church is to execute the vision of the senior pastor for the church as it relates to the students.


A wise man said it this way to me: I see my pastor’s vision for the church as a movie – it’s full, complete, and comprehensive.  My part within that is to execute one scene, one piece of that movie in accordance with his overall vision.

The recurring theme as I met with people learning how to do this youth ministry thing (I’m still learning) my first year was “submit.”  Submit to your senior pastor, submit to the vision, submit to the Lord.

If you find that you’re not able to submit to that pastor or the vision for the church, make plans for your exit, because it will happen sooner or later.  The honorable thing is to make it easier on everyone and quietly bow out before a major rift occurs.

As an example, you might have plans for an incredible community outreach and evangelism project through your youth ministry.  The pastor’s vision might be primarily for the pastoral care and shepherding of the flock that you have, and less of an emphasis on outreach and evangelism.  It happens – different visions value different things.

Then you have a choice.  Submit, work within the guidelines of the vision as long as you’re there; buck the system and cause trouble; or find a church to serve where you can go “all-in” for the vision as it’s cast by the pastor.

Here’s something to remember: he’s the one ultimately responsible to God for what happens in the flock he’s been given.  It’s not your call to lead the church; it’s his.  The wise and God-honoring thing to do is work for the pastor’s vision while you’re there, even if it’s hard.

Question: Has anyone experienced this in ministry or business – the boss/pastor/leader having a vision different than your own?


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About me…

Youth minister, financial coach and part-time wedding photographer, based in Raleigh, NC

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