by Matt Norman
As a pastor to children and youth, I often struggle with what exactly is my job. I believe the great commission calls me to spread the gospel and to make disciples. As a pastor to children and youth I do believe that part of this means reaching children and youth with the gospel. But, I also believe that parents are intended to be the primary disciplers for their children. So, what is my job?
I do believe that parents are intended to be the primary spiritual leaders for their kids. The truth is some simple math will prove that, in most cases, they ARE the primary influence. On average, a kid will attend around 40 weekend services per year. For some students you may add 40 midweek services. For the REALLY plugged in, you could add another 40 hours through special events, camps, etc. Total, that means we (the church) have about 120 hours per year to influence a kid, for those that are totally plugged in. For most, it is less than that. By comparison, parents have around 3,000 hours per year.
Obviously, parents ARE the primary influence in a kids life. This can be good or bad. As a pastor, Ephesians chapter 4 says that part of my job is to equip God’s people. Well, parents are God’s people too. So, if parents have so much greater potential to influence their kids, and I want to have an impact in the lives of children and youth, then I need to work with parents to help them make the most of their 3,000 hours.
Jesus is God. But, during His time here on earth, He was also fully man. Let’s face it. Jesus was a much greater man than I am, or ever will be. While He ministered to thousands, He chose to disciple only 12. If Jesus chose 12, then who am I to think that I can disciple any more than that? So, if I want the kids in my ministry to be discipled, in addition to equipping parents, I need to equip other adults to minister to kids.
Reach the Lost
The great commission is for all of us. We ALL have a personal responsibility to reach lost people. But, as a leader in the church, I also have a responsibility to set up opportunities for us, as a church, to reach the lost. Even in an ideal world where Christian parents are discipling their children, there are many kids and parents out there that have not received salvation. These need to be reached.
Share the Gospel
As hard as it is to believe, there was once a time when people didn’t know that smoking was bad for you. Today, people may deny that it is bad for them, but they have heard it. Not that long ago, I would have said the same thing in regard to the gospel, at least in America. While many may deny the gospel, I would have said that just about everyone in America had been exposed to it. This is not the case today. There are many that have not heard the gospel, even in America.
So, part of my job is to set up opportunities to share the gospel. Naturally, I have a personal obligation to do this, but as a pastor to children/youth I also have a professional one. It is my job and my privilege to plan events and opportunities to tell people that Jesus loves them and died for their sins.
Certainly, this is not an all inclusive list of all that it means to be a pastor to children or youth. But, I do think that much of the work of the position stems from these things.
This post originally appeared here on November 12, 2013. Used with permission from the author.