Leading a student ministry means that you must wear various hats.
- You fix the church van – because the students use those for camps.
- You fix the wifi – because you are the young person on staff.
- You minister in the community – because the students are in the schools.
- You schedule social medias – because other generations are still nervous about Instagram.
And the list goes on like the Energizer Bunny.
Regardless of your specific role in student ministry, there are hundreds of skills that a youth pastor must possess. You prepare as many sermons as the senior pastor. You coordinate volunteers. You plan multiple off-site events each year. You attend hundreds of school productions and games.
We are machines that are cranking out tons of relational, strategic, and administrative tasks. Not every habit we have developed has been beneficial.
Jon Acuff gives us a great encouragement in his book Do Over, when it comes to assessing our skills: “You must repeat what needs to be repeated and also innovate what needs to be innovated.”
Though there are many skills a solid student pastor will have, there are five skills that are essential for you to thrive.
This list isn’t groundbreaking. I’ve come to learn that a simple list is often the most complex for me to live out.
5 Most Important Skills Every Student Pastor Must Have
First and foremost, you are a minister of the Gospel of Jesus. You have been entrusted to spiritually lead students and their families. Many wouldn’t think of theology as a skill, but it is an area of development that you must invest in. You need to be learning more about King Jesus for your own spiritual growth and to lead the students in your ministry.
Is discipleship a skill? You could argue this, but we will assume that since there are wrong and right ways to create disciples, then it must be an area we can improve. You were called to be a disciple-maker before you were called into vocational ministry. The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19 was set for all believers to follow. Pastors do not get to delegate discipleship. Discipleship is a skill (or process, if you would) that everyone must be growing in and using to develop others. Are you being discipled? Are you discipling a few students?
I’m not talking about communication from a stage, although that is an incredible skill to nurture. I’m talking about your everyday communication with students, parents, and volunteers. How well are you communicating event details, vision, and encouragements? Look beyond the weekly emails. Relationship is essential to leadership, and communication is the foundation of relationship.
“I’m not administrative. I’m just a people person.” – said no successful person ever
Relational people must have basic administrative skills to keep the ministry moving. Creating a year-long color-coated calendar may not be your thing. But I bet a year-long calendar will benefit your ministry. Most administrative tasks can be delegated to a trusted volunteer or staff member. Look for the main administrative areas that will help your ministry (calendaring, financial reports, project management, volunteer management) then see what areas you can delegate to a volunteer or staff person to ensure someone is owning the task.
Incredible student pastors are incredible problem solvers. As one of the youngest pastors on staff, you will be asked questions about how the church can engage the next generation. It is your role to help other pastors see where culture is heading and help the church minister to younger generations in a changing culture. Problem-solving also plays a role in your volunteer and event management. Plans will change. People will step out of leadership roles. No matter what happens you must develop a can-do attitude, stay aware of God’s leadership in the chaos, and pray for a practical solution.
There is always room to sharpen our skills. Which of these five skills needs your attention?