the shape of leadership

Ten Challenges Your Youth Pastor Faces

Helping them reach the next generation

Influence Magazine on March 14, 2019

Every area of ministry faces unique challenges. Identifying these struggles isn’t about becoming perfect. It’s about making sure you focus on the right things. Knowing what today’s youth leaders are dealing with makes it easier for churches to encourage, equip and support these pastors in their God-given mission.

1. Youth Leaving Church

Many millennials dropped out of church after high school, and the trend does not seem to be reversing with Generation Z. Youth pastors must find ways to engage students and keep them interested in church throughout their late teens and early 20s.

2. Changing Morality

The days of the church being the primary voice on matters of sexuality are over. The messages about sex that students hear in school, on TV, on social media and from friends are often vastly different from what Scripture teaches. Youth pastors must help teenagers understand what the Word of God says on these matters so they can make God-honoring choices.

3. Secularism

Today’s youth live in an increasingly secular world, where there is often little tolerance for Christian values. Youth pastors can equip students to engage the culture by speaking the truth in love.

4. Lack of Parental Support

There was a time when church attendance was a priority across communities in America. Today, many parents see it as optional. Youth pastors should find ways to reach the entire family.

Many millennials dropped out of church after high school, and the trend does not seem to be reversing with Generation Z.

5. Technology

Technology is advancing by leaps and bounds. Just as we get used to one mode of communication, another two replace it. And each one poses hidden dangers. Youth pastors need to stay informed about the latest technology and social media platforms to help teenagers make responsible decisions.

6. Competing Messages

One great thing about the social media revolution is the availability of information. But there are also risks. With so many messages competing for attention, it can be difficult for young minds to sort out fact from fiction and good from evil. Youth pastors can help students find the spiritual wisdom and discernment that come from God alone.

7. Safety

A major concern for every organization that works with youth is ensuring the safety of each student. Not only must youth pastors understand appropriate behavior, they must also know how to safeguard youth in various settings and properly report any infractions.

8. Teen Angst

The teenage years can be turbulent, not just because of the onslaught of temptation but also because of hormonal fluctuations and other physical changes happening during this time. Discipling teens means equipping them with coping skills to overcome snares.

9. Relationship Struggles

In today’s cyber world, a relationship status can change in an instant. And a post can hurt feelings and impact lives within seconds. Add to this the prevalence of broken marriages and complex family dynamics, and young people today must navigate a range of tough relationship issues. They need role models who can demonstrate and teach healthy relational habits.

10. Busyness

From sports to cheerleading, orchestra to band, and all points in between, teens have more opportunities than ever to stay busy. As schedules fill up, church attendance sometimes becomes an afterthought. It takes a deep commitment on the part of youth pastors to speak over the din of busyness and reach the hearts of teens.

These challenges may seem heavy, but youth pastors across the country are stepping up. Prayer and support go a long way toward helping them meet each obstacle in the paths of students today.

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