Student ministry is one of the greatest callings within the church!
Who would want to be in charge of buildings and grounds when you can plan a summer beach camp?
While there are ample opportunities to do some incredible good in student ministry, there are some pitfalls that we must navigate to ensure that we are being effective in our calling.
Every student pastor wants an effective ministry. No one would argue with that! However, effectiveness doesn’t come from exuding more energy. It comes from making the right decisions at the right moment. It takes us saying no to distractions, yes to the right opportunities, and prioritizing people over projects.
Are you committing any of these deadly sins? Be honest with yourself, and then take the necessary steps to get back on track with God’s mission.
8 Deadly Sins of Student Pastors
1. Being Busy Without Being Effective
Most of the student pastors I know are not lazy. Sure, there are a few bad apples that can give student pastors a bad reputation, but most student pastors’ wives would let you know that they actually overwork. A huge sin for student pastors is to be busy with areas that don’t matter without being effective in your call to serve students and parents. Stop wasting so much time on logos, T-shirts, and other areas that you can outsource and start being effective in what you were called to accomplish. Energy and productivity do not equal effectiveness.
2. Failing To Develop Your Leaders
There is a line between doing and leading. Spending all of your time doing ministry yourself will never enable you to effectively lead your ministry. There are times and situations where you must be on the front lines, but you must develop leaders to be effective ministry leaders too.
3. Failing To Share God Stories With The Church
Don’t be an island of ministry. Share stories with your senior leaders and church community about what God is doing. The church needs to be encouraged by the stories of life change that are happening in your ministry! Talk with your direct leaders to see what avenue is the best to regularly share God-sized stories with the church.
4. Being a Poor Communicator
Did your mind instantly think I was going to talk about your preaching style? That is because as pastors we tend to elevate time spent in front of a large group and devalue communicating with the parents, leaders, and our staff. To be an effective pastor you must be able to lead from the platform and from the office. How well are you communicating with your ministry team, parents, students, and the church body? Are you sharing vision, communicating needs, talking about encouraging stories of transformation, and building excitement about upcoming events?
5. Tending To Everyone’s Spiritual Fire While Neglecting To Stoke Your Own
Your role is to stoke the spiritual fires in students’ souls. In the rush to tend to others’ fires, we often neglect stoking our own spiritual growth. You can’t forget to stoke your own spiritual fire and lead out of your passion for Jesus! Books by Donald Whitney and Paul David Tripp are excellent encouragements for pastors.
6. Not Being A Great Team Player With Your Staff
How well are you interacting with your staff? Being a team player takes energy and effort. It’s essential that you show up prepared for staff meetings, ask difficult questions, and invite others to speak into your leadership over the student ministry.
7. Failing To Establish Work Boundaries
My 4-year-old son has a plastic cell phone that he used to carry around the house with him and pretend to take calls, capture videos, and send pictures to his grandparents. It was cute until I realized he was mimicking me. Your family needs you to be completely present. Ministry can be and all-the-time thing if you let it, so decide ahead of time what your boundaries are and only bend them in true emergencies.
8. Putting All Of Your Energy Into Midweek Worship Gatherings
Josh Griffin recently tweeted this gem: “Our job is not to get students to show up, but to show up in students’ lives.” Worship gatherings are a portion of the ministry that Jesus has entrusted us with. Showing up in students’ lives means that we are disciplined to get outside of the walls of our church and meet students where they are. How are you investing in leaders and students outside of the designated “church time”?
Our job is not to get students to show up, but to show up in students’ lives.
— Joshua Griffin (@joshuagriffin) March 18, 2017
After taking an honest look at this list, how many of these sins are you struggling with?
What other areas would you add to the list?