Ode to Youth Pastors

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Originally posted on  http://www.markbatterson.com/, Thursday, November 17th 2011. Mark serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C. and is also member of the strategic faculty at Anderson University in South Carolina.

Here’s my ode to youth pastors! And this isn’t really a tribute from a pastor. It’s a tribute from a dad.  I didn’t fully appreciate the role you play in the kingdom until my kids were in your youth group!  If kids are most open to the gospel during their developmental teens years, then youth ministry is the frontlines of the kingdom.  It is where the battle is won or lost.  It is where habits are formed. It is where decisions are made.  Don’t we need our most passionate, most gifted, most Spirit-filled, most loving leaders on the frontlines?

Youth ministry is not a stepping stone to something else. It never was. It never will be.  It is where the action is.  There are kids who are contemplating suicide–they need you to discern it.  There are kids who are struggling with sexual orientation or sexual purity–they need you to speak truth.  There are kids who are trying to decide where they land spiritually–they need you to preach the gospel, live the gospel.

Just so we’re clear: It’s not your job to disciple my kids. That’s my job as a parent.  But I’m so grateful that I have someone to tag-team with.  There are times that my kids need a “third-party” to say what I’ve been saying their entire life.  They won’t hear me, but they might hear you.

So go ahead and dress cool and act cool.  Pull the all-night events and pull crazy stunts.  Laugh with the kids like crazy!  But don’t forget that you are first and foremost a prophet in the life of my child.  That’s what matters.  Don’t cower before a politically-correct culture.  Speak the truth boldly, lovingly, prophetically.  Get in their face. Get in their life.  Challenge them to dream big and pray hard.  They are capable of far more than we can imagine!

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