Husband. Dad to 5. Student Ministry Pastor. Follower of Jesus. Yatta yatta.


I sometimes post stuff over on on a blog called Slant 33.  It’s a blog where 3 people give their slant on an issue at hand that relates to youth ministry and youth pastors.

I recently posted an article in response to the question, “How do you find safe friendships at church?”  Here’s part of what I wrote.

Let me just start by affirming two things: 1) We all need safe friendships at church. All of us. 2) When you’re the youth pastor or youth leader, they are hard to find.  

Part of this is because you spend a lot of time with teens, and teens are not safe or healthy for accountability for you. So, the group you work with—unlike an adult ministry—is not a possible option for a safe friendship. Another reason is that, unless you’re at a really big church, if you’re the youth pastor, the pastors on your team are often people you answer to. Try as you may, it’s really hard to have a safe friendship with your boss who signs your checks or, when you confess your sins, doesn’t also muddy it with your leadership responsibilities. Which leads us to another reason we both need and find it hard to have safe friendships. Everyone around us is looking to us for leadership and guidance, and a safe friendship is one where you can be the uninhibited you. In a safe friendship, you share joys without creating jealousy and failures without creating judgment. So it’s hard. Understanding all of that, here are a few thoughts about how… 

Well, now next week I have another slant that is due, and this time, I’m wondering if you have thoughts you might want to contribute to the process.  Here’s the next question I have until Nov. 21 to post a response to:


Weigh in through the comments if you want.  I have a few ideas of my own, but what are some of the cliche’s that come to mind from your vantage point?


  1. Jennifer Parra says:

    Thanks Brian! This is good for youth pastor wives also 😉

  2. The cliches that I think need to go away–

    1- The cliche of “Im too cool to talk to you” usual happens with your more popular students or the students who are trying way to hard to be the “cool crew”

    2- The Cliche of apathetic kids. They all tend to band together and sulk that youth group is “boring” and they lack the motivation to be involved

  3. Friday service my daughter pointed you out as her youth pastor. She thinks you are great. She does not attend youth group anymore because of how exclusive the kids are. She says she, “Doesn’t matter, she is invisible she is not making a difference. No one talks to her. I told her to start serving in church and she would make friends. It hasn’t happened. My other daughter has given up trying. Next year my daughter will be 18. She will move out of youth group and we are hopeful she will find a more welcome environment.

  4. I normally would delete this anonymous comment but it sounds like you might actually be trying to reach out and not just cast stones. If I knew who your daughters were and who you were, I might be able to help. We try hard to make a welcoming environment and after a message on discouragement, I get how discouraging this must be for you as a parent and I hope you understand how comments like these are discouraging as a youth pastor too. Certainly that’s not who I’m trying to be or the ministry we are hoping/striving to create in our high school program. If you’d like to grab a cup of coffee and talk over them so that your family does not feel like an outsider, I’d love that. While there are some things I can’t control- like every high school student in my ministry- there are some things I can, like making sure your daughter meets a group of students who are invested and welcoming and introduce her to a small group of girls she could be a part of if she wanted mid week too. Hopefully we can remove the anonymity/invisibility and start towards a real solution soon. Brian

  5. Not casting stones at all. I’m just trying to figure out why it’s so hard for some to break through barriers. We are Christians and want to love and build relationships with others. I wanted to be part of this dialog and share what we have experienced and I’m thankful that you are asking these questions. The staff at have been wonderful. Welcoming, taking the time to sit and talk. Introducing them to the others there. You are right, there are things that are out of our control. Thank you for responding. I work Sundays but will ask my daughters to come and introduce themselves to you. Adri sells donuts and Caitlyn sells coffee. Respectfully,

  6. It’s hard to put into words, but I think the cliche of YOUTH GROUP needs to go away.

    I think it goes like this: The events, activities, and ministries begin to only appeal to the kids in your group. The next thing you know, there are inside jokes, private parties, and cliques a-plenty. Outsiders are turned off or uninterested and insiders don’t know how ineffective and stinky they’ve become. The youth pastor is no longer shepherding… but rather is the ‘youth guy’ who really only knows how to fill the calendar with fun events. There’s not really much ministry going on. Instead, everyone’s judging the success of the group based on how exciting, packed, or event driven it is.

    Youth group should be a place/ministry where the Holy Spirit transforms lives: healing, redeeming, preparing, empowering, restoring, etc. The students who are plugged into a youth ministry should be a part of the process in which they take the reigns and ownership of what’s going on. The youth pastor trains the adults and student leaders to go and shepherd the flock (Eph. 4:11). Outsiders and insiders, newbs and pros, Christians and the curious can come to be changed and challenged by the Holy Spirit in a safe, fun, and real environment.

    At least, that’s what I’m working towards. I’ll let you know when we get there…

  7. what up Jason. keep doing youth ministry. you da man

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