Not Just the Youth Pastor's Job
The professional job called “youth minister” was largely non-existent 30 years ago. Now, most churches have a youth minister on staff. I think this is good in the sense that churches see the need to invest in the lives of young people. I’m glad churches hire youth pastors…I’m one of them!
However, I think the negative outcome of the youth ministry profession is that the church now has the tendency to hire youth ministers to “take care of” the church’s young people. This would suggest that the spiritual growth of teenagers is the job of one person, not for families and communities. Most churches and parents expect youth pastors to use their personal charisma and boundless energy to attract teenagers to the church, and once there to keep them busy, happy, and out of trouble.
Now, don’t get me wrong…I love youth ministry and I think youth ministries can have profound effects on young people. Nevertheless, youth ministries were never meant to take the parents’ responsibility of raising their children in the faith. Youth ministries exist to help and assist families with the spiritual growth of their teenagers. Yet, families and parents will always have the greater impact on a child’s spiritual development.
There are dozens of studies that identify parents as the most important influence on the religious lives of their children. Thus, as a congregation we need to be praying for the parents of teenagers. Their task and call as parents is daunting. However, through the grace of God and the help of the church, families can and will pass on the faith to their children.