Does the Bible say anything about the role of youth pastor/minister?
The New Testament does not specifically mention the role of a youth pastor or youth minister. Local church youth ministries began to increase in the mid-twentieth century as an extension of the popularity of parachurch ministries such as Youth for Christ that reaches large numbers of teenagers who needed further discipleship. However, much is said about ministry in general that applies to the efforts of youth workers.
First, there is the question of whether a youth leader is considered a youth pastor or youth minister. There is some importance to this difference. A youth pastor would biblically be an elder who would need to fit the elder qualifications of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. These passages also limit pastoral ministry to men since New Testament elders were exclusively male. Seen as a youth minister, however, both men and women would have freedom to serve in this role, involving those with abilities in working with teenagers effectively.
Second, there is the important consideration of the goals of youth ministry. In general, the goal of youth ministry should be the same as that of the local church—to honor God through making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). Therefore, the focus of local church youth ministry is to be discipleship, a process that includes evangelism, learning, friendship, service, and worship (Acts 2:42-47).
Another consideration is the relationship between youth ministry and parents of teenagers in the church. The Bible clearly states the priority of raising a child belongs to parents (Ephesians 6:1-4). However, additional help through youth workers can assist parents to better help young people grow in Christ. In addition, many youth ministries include teenagers from broken families or families that include non-Christian parents. In these situations, the role of the youth worker becomes more important as he or she may be the only Christian role model in the young person's life.
Youth programs are another important consideration for youth pastors or ministers. There should ideally be room for both interaction with other age groups in the church (such as in weekly worship services) and gatherings specifically with teenagers to help address particular issues they face in relevant, helpful ways. Though youth ministry should include an element of fun, it is primarily about discipleship rather than entertainment. A balanced combination of outreach, growth, fellowship, and service can help impact teenagers and better prepare them for a lifetime of ministry.
First Timothy 4:12 offers a key verse that applies to working with young people: "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity." A youth leader's goal is help young people set an example through their lives that follows the example of Christ.
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