My Children’s Pastor is Irrelevant


One of the things I have noticed over the past few years in the kids ministry community, is kids and youth pastors seem to move around a lot. I always found this to be quite curious. I moved around many times as a kid. So I always chalked up my awareness of how often kids and youth pastors move because of my personal experience growing up. Last year I went to Australia and I found that they don’t have the same ministry culture there. To be fair there are some pioneers in kids ministry in Australia but the whole of kids ministry in Australia is largely done by volunteers and part-time kids and youth pastors who were raised in the church they are serving.

I think the problem in the American church is not a problem of relevance at all. I think many kids and youth pastors leave their churches prematurely. The reason is they misinterpret their feelings of frustration. I remember feeling antsy around 4 years in and I also remember God say you haven’t finished what I have for you to do. So I stayed. 10 years in I had accomplished all I knew that I was to do. I started to ask God if I was done or just in the wrong place. I felt that he was saying neither. I was confused. I then felt in my heart that God was calling me to spend the rest of my time releasing and training others to do what I do.

I think Lead Pastors and Kids pastors get it wrong at exactly the same time.

Lead Pastors feel their kids and youth pastors are no longer relevant. Kids and youth pastors feel they are in a rut and they have done all they can do where they are. While both of the statements may be true. I think we fail to ask the question no one is asking. The problem in my mind is primarily a discipleship one. We have kids pastors leaving or being fired because they are in a rut or because they have become irrelevant, but the answer isn’t always leaving. I think the answer is discipleship. At the point where you need to pour into younger leaders and you don’t you become irrelevant. In failing to train and release people to do what you do you doom your church to cycle of looking for the next big name with the next big idea.

Lead pastors push your kids and youth pastors to disciple kids to take their place. Young leaders need fathers older leaders need to step back and love protect and foster an atmosphere where failure is ok because it takes place in the context of stability.

Kids and youth pastors don’t follow your first instinct to run. Stay, push through. Once you start running it’s hard to stop. It was for me.

9 comments On My Children’s Pastor is Irrelevant

  • Sam, you are right on! I have friends that I graduated Bible College with 20 years ago that have been in 8-10 churches. While they boast to have “20 years of experience” – the reality is, they have “2 years of experience” that they have recycled ten times. I know that every situation is different and that there are a lot of unhealthy situations out there, but I firmly believe that too many Staff Pastors leave prematurely (as you have stated). Sometimes, it is through the difficult circumstances on a staff that we learn the MOST. God didn’t call us to a consistently smooth ride. He called us to serve with integrity and passion until HE decides we have completed the mission. Thanks, Sam! Great thoughts as always!

    • Brian totally agree. What I was driving at is we need to be obedient and often times that means doing the difficult thing. Sometimes staying is the more difficult thing other times it’s leaving. Difficulty has a way of refining and conforming us in the image of Christ. When choosing a path we prefer the smoothest because we don’t need help when the path is smooth we are under the illusion that we got it under control. As followers of Christ where ever we find ourselves we need a revelation of God’s grace in every situation to be able to abide especially when the heat gets turned up.

  • Oh the things I would tell myself if I could go back! I’m just thankful that God was sovereign through all my wandering. I can see how He led me through each season, but it’s hard not to look back and think about the things He could’ve done if I’d been willing to stay instead of run.

    Thanks for calling us to something higher and leading the way!

  • Thanks for this, Sam. Can you recall if you’ve written any more on those periods when you felt it was time to leave and then you ended up staying? Hearing someone else talk about those seasons is really helpful for me.

    • Mike I did a series of posts about leading for the long haul they may be helpful. I would also recommend a message by Tim Keller called “Your plans God’s Plans.” Lastly Kellers book on suffering is excellent it’s called walking with God through pain and suffering.

  • Good post Sam, you posed a good question that I don’t think is thought about when going through the storm of feeling irrelevant. We forget our job has always been to “equip saints for the work of the ministry”. When that is our focus and perspective it gives us a purpose greater than ourselves. I think it also comes down to our own intimacy with Christ, trusting that he who began the good work will finish it. Thanks for posting.

    • Adrienne your question on our call really helped me to put the missing piece of this together. It has always bothered me but when we were talking it clicked. It’s so important that we lead in humility and grow our influence by pouring into others rather than protecting what we think is ours.

  • Sam, Great post. I have found that in my position as Kidz Pastor, I spend the majority of my energy, time, and resources pouring into Leaders who pour into kids. The only time I minister directly to kids as a large group is Sunday Mornings for a 20 minute sermon. No matter my age, I can continue to stay relevant in the planning, prep, and recruiting great leaders to pour into kids. Also, I try to keep a healthy mix among those who serve kids. I want some 65 year old men and women who will love on the kids, but I also need some teens who can be goofy with them as well, also need the Middle aged Man who can talk to kids about the pressures of life…

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