I’ve always seen my role as a youth pastor as having four major objectives. Pastor the People. Mobilize the Ministry. Cultivate the Climate. Voice the Vision.

Pastor the People

As a pastor, my primary calling is to care for people God has brought within my influence. This includes sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, biblical teaching & preaching, leading in worship, spiritual guidance, and care in times of crisis. I’m also charged with the responsibility of equipping others with the ability to carry out their calling in ministry and mission in the world, as well. That means identifying potential, evaluating spiritual giftedness, recruiting volunteers, training lay leaders for ministry, and providing them with the resources necessary to continue in their growth. If I’m to fulfill my calling, I must first pastor the people.

Mobilize the Ministry

I am also responsible for the mobilization of the ministry in which good spiritual growth can occur. That means it’s up to me to make sure that every person on our team has what they need to do what they need to do. This includes thorough communication, advance preparation, and detailed explanations. It includes providing all the supplies needed and all the information needed whenever it’s needed. It includes setting up the systems that ensure good discipleship is happening and implementing  strategies for reaching the lost and caring for the needy. It includes developing calendars, newsletters, websites, and Facebook pages. It includes providing sound equipment, computers, iPods, and other technology for volunteers and teams to do their jobs. It includes phone calling, emailing, texting (lots and lots of texting), and Facebooking. If our ministry is to be successful, then I need to do whatever it takes to mobilize that ministry for success.

Cultivate the Climate

Preaching, teaching, mobilizing, and resourcing does no good if the social climate of our church has not been cultivated. I can be the best preacher in the world but a terrible youth pastor if I don’t cultivate good relationships with students, parents, volunteers, staff, church leadership, and others in the congregation. I can design the best ministry systems possible but none of it will matter if I don’t also cultivate a positive attitude among the people of our church toward our ministry. This requires that I be very intentional about building positive relationships with anyone and everyone. I must always treat each person, student or adult, parent or peer, as the valued child of God that they are. I must guard my own words and attitudes, staying regulated, non-anxious, and differentiated. I must provide positive leadership while listening carefully to those whom I lead and build teamwork into every level of our ministry. I have to, absolutely have to, tell the stories of ministry fruitfulness as often as I can. Did a student put their faith in Christ? Then I tell the whole church! Did a group of students serve at the soup kitchen? I wanna tell everyone! Is a small group leader doing a great job? I’ll shout it out and hold them up as an example. Do I have more students attending this year than last year? Then let’s celebrate it! Tell the world! This is all part of cultivating the climate. Why is it important? Because, in my experience, it has led to more confidence and trust in me, my leadership, and the ministry I lead. It has led to others wanting to be part of our team. It has led to a higher willingness to increase ministry funding. It has led to more openness to change and my leadership strategies. They way I see it, if I’m going to grow as a pastor and if our ministry is going to truly succeed…then I have to cultivate the climate.

Voice the Vision

I am convinced that vision comes from God, not from me. I am also convinced that vision comes through one person, not a group. If I am the called and duly empowered leader of my area of ministry, then I must be the voice of vision. I must first seek God’s perspective on this community of people. What does he see? What are their needs? What’s the spiritual climate like? Where does God want to take them? Then I must be the one to prayerfully discern what that perspective is. I must be the one to verify what that vision is and how to get there. By the way, I really like how Andy Stanley talks about vision. By his influence, I’ve become convinced that vision is a preferred state of being in the foreseeable future. But it’s not my preferred state of being that matters…it’s God’s. I have lots of preferred states of being. But my callings is to do His bidding. Furthermore, I must do whatever I can to understand how to best be the voice of vision, how inspire collaboration toward that vision, and how to guide the process of realizing that vision. If we are going to grow the way God intends us to grow…I have to voice the vision.

This is what I do. This is my calling. Pastor the people. Mobilize the ministry. Cultivate the climate. Voice the Vision.

Author: Jim Murphy

Associate Pastor | NextGen Ministries Covenant Church, Bemidji, MN

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