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


A friend of mine recently asked me, “What are the key qualities I would look for in a youth pastor?”… 

Well, it’d be lame for me to answer as a youth pastor by making a list that is not also one that I’m trying to embody myself.  So, here’s both what I’d be looking and who I’m trying to be:
A TEAM PLAYER:  by default, the youth pastor is almost never calling the shots for the whole church.  Even if they have some key influence you’re going to need someone who can lead and build a team as a champion of a mission that is not solely their own. 
VISION: I’d want to bring in someone who has a dream that is something close to “inviting a generation to understand, own, and live out a life changing faith in Jesus.” It doesn’t have to be those words, but I’d be looking for someone who has a passion to build a ministry that champions something close to that.  
PASSION FOR GOD AND STUDENTS:  I think we need youth pastors that actually love students and not just the job. They have to want to disciple and not just entertain or gather students. 
AUTHENTIC:  We need pastors who know their own stuff stinks and have grace for others when they fail.  We don’t need anymore plastic pastors with a painted on smile and a Jesus sticker on their car.  We need real faith lived out in the real world where some days go good and some days do not.
KINGDOM MINDED.  As a network coordinator, I’m trying to care as much if not more that Jesus wins  than our church does.  The end game is not the biggest youth ministry, it’s working together to see students transformed in the Kingdom of God- regardless of where that happens. I’d want someone who does not have this local church as the axis around which the rest of the global church rotates.
GET IT FACTOR: I don’t know what that means really. I just want to be and hire pastors who have their head on straight and their life is oozing this stuff. 
PROVEN TRACK RECORD:  I’m trying to personally create and hire people with a reputation that says they live what they believe.
FAITH AND ZEAL:  I’m looking to be and work with pastors that say, “let’s rock this place and change the world one student at a time.”  I have no interest in those who want mediocre student ministry.  If youth ministry is not worth doing well, then it’s not worth doing.  Period.
There’s my list.  What would you add or change? 


  1. I’ve had way too many bad experiences with youth pastors, so here’s what I’d add:

    Healthy Self-Image – because so many crave so much attention.

    Healthy Boundaries – because I’ve seen so many cross lines that they didn’t know existed.

  2. Love the list! I’d add “teachability.” They have the humility to know that they don’t know everything, and the eagerness to want to learn and grow more themselves.

  3. Awesome list, friend! I’d add one to it, though I am not sure how to exactly put it. I want to see youth pastors have a full understanding of what I call the Discipleship Landscape. I want them to know the factors that impact students, their parents, their families as a whole, and students ability (or inability) to grow in their knowledge and application of their faith. Being myopic or shallow won’t cut it. I want a guy or gal who knows what they’re up against, and how to craft their message and ministry accordingly. Awesome stuff, Brian.

  4. How about this? “Not too impressed with church life.”

    In other words, legitimately has a life that isn’t tied to the job.

    And another one, “Proven advocate for teenagers in the community, not just the church.”

    Ultimately, yes it’s a job. But if it’s a calling than it has to be so much more life-integrated than just a paycheck.

    Last one, “Doesn’t really want the job.” The best pastors I know are always trying to give their job away or don’t really give a rip if they get canned.

  5. thanks friends. fun comments.

    Adam, if I stuck with the premise that I’m striving to live these characteristics, I think I’d lose my job with your list though. I’m trying to do the first, probably not great at the second, and don’t own the third one at all. I think I want to keep my job and I’m not hoping to get canned anytime soon 🙂

  6. Adam, I think I get what you’re saying with your third one – doesn’t want the job…or at least this is how I see that.

    I wish there was no such thing as a youth pastor insofar as that meant that the church as a whole and parents were so actively discipling students both at home and in the congregation that they didn’t need someone the head up organizing that. That’s what I think it would look like to give away the job…though then you’d probably need to move on to another church to try and replicate the same thing 😉

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