What is a NextGen Pastor?
A NextGen Pastor (or Pastor/Director of Next Generation Ministries) is also sometimes referred to as a Family Pastor (or Pastor/Director of Family Ministries). Most NextGen Pastors oversee multiple staff and multiple age groups, some of which can include college and young adults. A Family Pastor usually has the additional element of ministry to marriages and parenting. In most of those cases, other members of the staff focus on kids and student ministries while the family pastor oversees them but has a more direct ministry role with marriages and parenting. Both work to partner with parents as much as possible.
In smaller churches, a NextGen Pastor can oversee multiple age groups with volunteers and teams leading ministry age groups. He/she can be a primary communicator in one or more age groups but still supports all areas of ministry equally. The NextGen team in a smaller church may have any variety of part-time staffing configurations depending on 1) the skill set of the NextGen Pastor, 2) the growth areas of the ministries, and 3) the skill sets of the available volunteers.
The NextGen Pastor is strategically minded, administratively skilled, aggressive with recruiting and team development, has a pastoral heart, and values relational ministry with an emphasis on the relationships between kids/students and their small groups and small group leaders.
My role is an Associate Pastor first (equal in voice and responsibility as other pastors), which means I have a share in pastoral duties (sit at the decision making table, common projects and initiatives, weddings, funerals, crisis response, etc.). I directly oversee NextGen Ministries, which takes up most of my time, but it is secondary to my role as an associate.
Reggie Joiner and his team at Orange have done some really good work in developing a definition of a NextGen leader. They’ve outlined the following SIX ROLES OF THE NEXTGEN PASTOR and FIVE ESSENTIALS FOR NEXTGEN MINISTRY.
SIX ROLES OF THE NEXTGEN PASTOR:
- CHAMPION EVERY AGE GROUP – Inspire your church to say yes to the next generation, investing in their future now. The way we love kids now directly impacts who they will be as adults. As kids grow through the phases, they need loving and committed adults to show up and connect with them, share life with them, and invest in them, preparing them for what’s next. The NextGen Pastor ensures that kids have those adults in their lives, casts the vision for their potential, tells their stories, inspiring the church to love and treat each kid like they are made in the image of God.
- ALIGN LEADERS – Coach your team to work together. Get them on the same page. Identify your ministry’s primary values then live and breath those values. Organize yourselves and base your ministry practices on those values. Meet with your team regularly to identify common goals and objectives. Keep a compelling scoreboard and hold them accountable. The NextGen Pastor is responsible for their team’s alignment and the church’s overall strategy for raising up the next generation.
- GUAGE EFFECTIVENESS – Gauging your ministry’s effectiveness is a difficult task and requires a lot of thought and discussion. Help your team identify what success looks like and what it means to be effective. The NextGen Pastor must help their teams define the wins and measure the markers that demonstrate you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing.
- ASSIST MINISTRY – Serve your leaders. Assist them in whatever way is needed to ensure not only their success but also their sense of joy and fulfillment in doing what God has called them to do. This includes making sure the tools and resources you provide are genuinely helpful, your communications systems are efficient and effective, your environments are inspiring and the messaging is engaging. The NextGen Pastor sets up the system that makes all this possible, including hiring the right staff, recruiting the right teams, and providing the right resources.
- EXPAND LEARNING – Equip your team with the knowledge and skills it takes to lead their leaders and ministries. Equip your team’s leaders with the knowledge and skills it takes to lead their kids. Teach them what you know. Model what needs to be done. The NextGen Pastor is always a step or two ahead of their team, feeding them what they need to learn and grow in their God-given calling to minister to kids.
- PARTNER WITH PARENTS – No one has more influence in the life of a kid than their parents. Yet, parents aren’t the only influence in a kid’s life. Find ways to genuinely partner with parents in raising their children. Provide what the church can provide best: a loving network of caring adults who are committed to helping them grow in faith, wisdom, and friendship. The NextGen Pastor is constantly looking for ways to improve their partnership with parents. Why? Because, only when we work together can we truly raise up the next generation to love God and love others as he loves them.
FIVE ESSENTIALS FOR A NEXTGEN MINISTRY:
- ALIGN LEADERS – Align leaders with a common language and strategy.
This includes overseeing multiple staff, ensuring their strategies are all aligned, developing a common language, training and equipping volunteers, ensuring the most effective and efficient strategies are employed to best mobilize our ministries.
- REFINE THE MESSAGE – Craft core truths into engaging, relevant, and memorable experiences.
This includes curriculum selection, development, and review. It also includes overseeing environmental messaging, social media messaging, and other communications. It also can and, in my situation does, include being a primary communicator (teacher/preacher) on stage.
- ENGAGE PARENTS – Engage every parent to have positive influence in the spiritual development of their own kids.
This includes resourcing parents, ensuring consistent communication with parents, training staff and volunteers to partner with parents, etc.
- ELEVATE COMMUNITY – Give every kid a caring leader and a predictable and safe community where they can grow spiritually.
This includes making sure The Small Group is the Big Event. Every kid and student of every age has a small group and a consistent leader who is investing in them and their spiritual growth.
- INFLUENCE SERVICE – Create consistent opportunities for kids and teenagers to serve.
This includes creating opportunities for service as a volunteer in the regular weekly ministries and worship services of the church, as well as missional work and ministry opportunities both locally and globally.