Am I Too Old for Youth Ministry? - Dare 2 Share
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.

Am I Too Old for Youth Ministry?

Why leading students in your 30s, 40s, and beyond is wonderfully weird—and weirdly wonderful.



I wish more people ages 40 and older would jump all-in to student ministry when God calls. Speaking from experience, I can say: We were made for this! At 42, I transitioned from staff director of a faith-based nonprofit to student pastor at my local church.

For the record, the 40s are the new 20s. The world is still at our fingertips, but now we know most of the potholes to avoid. We know a fun vacay with our friends is an easy yes, but we also know it’s important to actually read all the reviews when booking the Airbnb and to pack good walking shoes.

The same is true for entering student ministry in my 40s. I not only plan and schedule the Nerf-gun wars, but I also know that people trained in tactical warfare are among the first people to ask to become adult volunteers. They understand the battle students are up against and are among the first to grasp the importance of a Gospel Advancing strategy.

In the hopes of encouraging other 40-plus people to eagerly answer God’s nudge toward student ministry, here are a few things I’ve learned about following Jesus into this calling:

Live an “interruptible” life.

As someone who loves a plan, checklist, and agenda, this was a hard attitude to cultivate. In my 30s, God asked if He could interrupt me. I learned that having a plan is wise, but holding too tightly doesn’t leave room for prompt obedience when the Lord wants to redirect at a moment’s notice. I’d been viewing God’s interruptions as disruptions, rather than invitations to glimpse His heart for others and join Him.

When I was 35, God called me out of a comfortable corporate job in Houston, Texas, into full-time ministry 4,000 miles away in Alaska. Several years later, in my 40s, He interrupted me again with 20 or so teens at my church, who were hungry for connection and Jesus.

Student ministry in Anchorage, Alaska, was never on my vision board, and yet it’s the primary avenue God used to restore joy to my life. And now I have a bold vision to reach teens with the Gospel. I’ll take that kind of interruption any day!

Student ministry isn’t lesserit’s more.

Jesus didn’t leave us a model career ladder with a trajectory toward lead pastor. He gives callings and gifts and directs our focus. Student ministry isn’t a lesser calling or just a season of ministry on the path to something greater.

In youth ministry, the Lord regularly awakens teenagers to begin walking with Him. Often, it’s also where He first calls them to become pastors, missionaries, and martyrs. It’s where future families are forever changed as students living in broken homes become disciples. As they develop a faith of their own, their discipleship influences their futures as husbands and wives, mothers and fathers.

Our impact reverberates through generations in a way that is unique and beautiful and is something to be honored as we step into it—honored by the Church as it supports our service and obedience to Jesus’s call.

Age doesn’t factor into obedience.

I’m a steward only of the calling Jesus gave me—not of the outcomes, trajectories, or promotions. I’m responsible to fully show up in obedience with all that I am and all He’s given me. His Gospel confirms the outcomes. We can’t and couldn’t—Jesus did and does. We need—He gives. He calls—I follow.

He called me to be a disciple-maker, teacher, and shepherd, and He told me to focus on student ministry. I show up fully—fully 40-something, fully present, fully invested.

I proudly tell people that I’m a youth pastor, not because of high-weekly attendance or amazing events I plan, but because I’m honored that He interrupted me with this invitation to participate in His youth ministry. Several of the disciples were in their teens, so Jesus was definitely a student pastor!

The sweetest outcome I wasn’t expecting is how my students introduce me as their pastor proudly to their friends, inviting me into their circles and their worlds.

When I told my mother that God was redirecting me to focus on the local church and help students become disciples, she jokingly said what others were probably thinking: “You know, most pastors are moving out of youth ministry by the time they’ve hit their 40s, not jumping into it.”

I think my response was wiser than 20- or 30-something me would have answered, because it sprung from the hard-earned Gospel confidence of 40-something me:

“Well, life with Jesus is wonderfully weird, Mom. How can I say no to that?”

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