Am I Too Young for Effective 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 Young for Effective Youth Ministry?

How younger leaders can use their youthfulness to lead teens well.



I’m a 25-year-old youth pastor—and it’s the most amazing job I could ever ask for.

Being a youth pastor is a high calling, and being young poses some challenges but also some major advantages. And we need to leverage them, whether you’re young yourself or you’re mentoring someone who is.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned so far as a young youth pastor:

1. Keep up with the changing world.

The Church is struggling to match the culture’s pace—and not just with the ever-evolving slang (even I can’t keep up with that!). Cyberbullying, quick access to sexual content, instant contact with friends (and strangers), constant screen exposure, and big questions about identity and purpose are just a few examples of very real struggles that target teens in a way that older generations didn’t experience. Ecclesiastes 12:1 reminds us to:

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, I find no pleasure in them.

Unfortunately, for many of these teens, the days of adversity are already here, and they need help.

With so much mess in students’ lives, many older people are drawing back rather than advancing—partly because there’s so much they don’t understand. But these realities are why it’s so important to reach students with the Gospel while they’re young.

Being a young youth pastor means I’m not too far removed from their world. I’ve struggled through many of the issues they’re facing right now, which puts me in a unique position to minister from a place of love and understanding. When I speak of God’s faithfulness, it’s because I can understand the pain of my students on a deep level. And they see that. Teens don’t tolerate fakers. But they trust people who are genuine, even if they don’t have all the right answers.

2. Try new things.

Being in ministry for a shorter time means that I mess up—a lot. But it also means I’m not afraid to take risks and be creative. Sermon illustrations sometimes end in blank stares, games might end in a bloody nose, and events occasionally flop. But that’s OK. I learn and move forward. Youth forums are full of pastors who are completely lost because the system they’ve used for 20 years has stopped working. As the culture rapidly changes, so do the needs of students. Being young in ministry means I’m naturally flexible. As long as the Bible is my foundation, I’m willing to try just about anything to effectively reach the teens God has entrusted to me.

3. Recognize the struggle is real.

Pizza parties go right to the waistline, and I don’t always know how I will pay my bills on that youth pastor paycheck—but truth be told, those aren’t the struggles that keep me up at night. Being young in ministry means that I’m not always seen as competent, compared with my older coworkers at church. Serving in an aging church, I find my thoughts on matters can often be dismissed solely because of my age. I could wave my college degree around or jump up on a pew and argue my case—but I don’t. Timothy, a young pastor, was in this same situation. Paul instructs him:

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.

1 Timothy 4:12

Young Christian, the best way for you to earn respect is to honor God and serve your teens well. Live a godly life. You can’t argue your way to prominence, at least in God’s Kingdom.

4. Find a mentor.

Many of us who are younger in ministry are on fire for the Lord, but we don’t have the decades of experience youth ministry veterans have. Find someone with student expertise, whether they still work with teens or have been “demoted” to work with adults. We need them! We need their wisdom, their prayers, their advice. All of it. We’re discipling these teens, but often, no one is discipling us in a meaningful way. Ask someone with more experience than yourself to mentor you. Remember, they’re not too old for youth ministry, and you’re not too young. Teens need to see people living for God in all stages of life.

5. Live what you preach.

Young youth pastor, remember that your teens are watching. Live out what you’re telling them to do. Remember Gospel Advancing Value #3: Leaders fully embrace and model it. Read your Bible. Pray for others’ needs, including their salvation. Serve others in the name of Jesus. Honor God with your screen time. Love your students well. And proclaim the Gospel with boldness.

If you remember these five things and depend on God in the journey, there’s no reason God can’t use you—no matter your age—to reach and disciple many teens.

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