5 Myths about Youth Pastors

5 MYTHS ABOUT YOUTH PASTORSI have been a full-time youth pastor for 7 years. I have also been a youth intern for 3 years before that. One thing that I have noticed is that youth pastors get a lot of the jokes. Some of them are pretty hilarious, but the majority of them are false. Here are the 5 greatest myths about youth pastors:

  1. Youth Pastors are on vacation when at camp and mission trips– I cannot tell you how many times I have actually taken a real vacation, and heard jokes, “weren’t you just on vacation at camp with the kids?” Look anytime teens are present on your trip, it is NOT vacation. I would love for the ones who joke with youth pastors to make camp and mission trips their vacation for one year, and see if they have the same ideas that it is a true vacation. No, basically, you are working all day every day while at camp or on a mission trip. Church members, lay off this joke, because it is a myth.
  2. Youth Pastors are lazy– I would be rich if I had a dime for every time I heard, “You have nothing to do, you are just a youth pastor.” Now, I am sure there are some youth pastors out there who give the rest of youth pastors a bad name by being lazy, but the majority of youth pastors I know are not lazy. In fact, they usually work as many or more hours of any other staff member at the church they work at. Youth pastors have required office hours like the other pastors, but most of the ministry that takes place in youth ministry involves evenings or weekends. Also, youth pastors usually get called into other ministries in the church to serve, because many actually think that youth pastors have all of the time in the world. Youth pastors tend to wear so many hats other than youth ministry in the church. Youth pastors also have to give up many weekends for their ministry so let’s lay off calling them lazy. Let’s commend them for their hard work.
  3. Youth Pastors are not smart– I am sure you have heard this one “You couldn’t get a real job so you became a youth pastor.” Really? Youth ministry is an art, and it takes creativity. Many of the youth pastors that I know are really smart, and this myth is a knock to the kind of intelligence it takes to pull off youth ministry.
  4. All Youth Pastors do is play games– Yes, youth pastors play more games and do more “fun” stuff like mission trips, camps, amusement parks, baseball games, and more, but what people seem to never notice is the difficult moments of youth ministry. People never seem to notice the discipline that takes place in youth ministry or the difficult conversations that happen in youth ministry. How about the difficult sermons that need to take place. How about the long all nighters. Look, all nighters may seem like all fun and games, but as a married man with two kids, I think I could think of some better things to do with my family than staying up all night, but youth ministry demands this. Youth ministry is so much more than the fun and games that people summarize youth ministry up with.
  5. Youth Ministry is not a real job– This one got me the most. I heard it all of the time, and many of the myths already mentioned kind of goes along with this one. Look, youth ministry is arguably the most important position in the church, because you are shaping the future leaders of the church you work in. Youth pastor, what you do is important, and sometimes this myth can make youth pastors feel less important!

So, lets stop already with these myths church members. If you keep joking about these, why don’t you spend a few years in youth ministry, and you can find real quickly that these myths are false.

To the Youth Pastors reading this: Stay in it, and do not allow these myths (jokes) to get you down. You are doing a great job, and what you are doing is important! Hats off to you for your hard work!

Published by Josh Evans

Josh is the connections pastor of the Oakleaf campus of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL. Before that, Josh had been a mentor and pastor to students for 10 years. Josh is passionate about empowering church leaders to make a difference. Josh and his wife Abby have two children. You can connect further with Josh on this blog or send him a direct email at joshhevans@gmail.com.

13 thoughts on “5 Myths about Youth Pastors

  1. 6. Youth Ministry is a stepping stone to “real” ministry.
    7. Youth pastors need to be young to relate to youth.
    8. Youth ministry requires no experience – in fact, it is ideal for aspiring pastors just out of Bible School or seminary who need to get some experience before the big time.
    9. Youth pastors are a dime a dozen and can live on next to nothing salary wise.
    10. If your church gets a youth pastor, your church attendance will grow. Similarly, if the youth pastor is any good, the youth attendance will increase.

  2. Alright….if you are one who has ever made one of these statements about youth ministry, whether joking or serious, then go put on your steel-toed boots and get ready…. Cause I’m stomping through. As the mom of a former youth pastor and having worked closely with Josh for the last several years, I can tell you from personal experience that there is no harder job than that of a youth pastor. First, you must become a master at balancing your time, praying there is time and energy left over for your family. I know I am generalizing here because it is not true of all, but many parents expect their youth pastor to be an ever-present mentor to their child, but if the youth pastor shares an observation about the child to the parent that they don’t like, the child is jerked out of youth group. Or if the child is not given the youth pastor’s undivided attention, their child is being ignored. Oh, and the kids expect their youth pastor to be their BFF, but if he has to come down on the kid or reprimand him in any way, the youth pastor becomes the kid’s worst enemy.
    As far as mission trips and camps being vacations…well, first of all, vacations are meant to be time with family, time to relax, time to get away from your work….time to get away from everyone else’s kids. I don’t believe I just described mission trips or camp. Just the responsibility of keeping everyone safe and not leaving one of the kids behind is more stress than most people could manage. And all of this goes for youth leaders too. At my church we have three faithful couples where the husbands take personal vacation time from work to take the youth group either to camp or on mission trips OR to both. AND they have to raise their own financial support to go.
    So if you think for one minute that youth ministry is easy and that a Youth Pastor does not work hard, just once take the time to go along on a youth activity and see for yourself. I’m sure your Youth Pastor could use your help and would appreciate it more than you can imagine.
    By the way, they can always use your prayers, too.

  3. 20 years in youth ministry at the same church. I have to agree with the list. My first 5 day winter retreat with 100 youth. Got off the bus and a parent that had three youth on the trip said to me, “How was your vacation?” Vacation? I had her three kids with me she had a vacation.

    Also have to agree with #9 by Steve. After 15 years of being paid someone actually said in a meeting about salary, “How’d he’d get to make that kind of money?” I was making $45,000. I have two masters degrees including my masters in religious education. I started the job at $32,000 full time. After 15 years of serving my pay had gone up an incredible sum of $13,000 in 15 years, less than a grand a year, outrageous! Plus, no health insurance or other benefits of any kind. Including unemployment so if the fired me I was just out of luck.

    Steve’s #7 you have to be young to relate is spot on as well.

    Allow me to add #11. If anything in the church is damaged, left out, dirty or missing the youth must have done it.

    And #12. We’d like to have the youth help. Translation: the youth group is seen as cheep labor. Please come early to set up, and stay late to clean up. By the way please stay out of the way, be quiet and still the rest of the time.

  4. I have seen good youth pastors and not very good ones. My suggestion, if they wish to be taken seriously, is to eliminate the word “awesome” from their vocabulary.

  5. Judy… You’re Awesome! What an insensitive statement. As a pastor, when it comes to church members(to use your words) “I’ve seen good ones and bad ones”. Until you’ve been one, you should eliminate the word “pastor” from your vocabulary.

  6. I have been Pastoring 15 years, and Youth Pastored 20+ years before that. The young people were wonderful to minister to and be with. Parents were all most always the problem. EVERYTHING you said about the work is true! But- be of good cheer; we’re not home yet. Keep your eyes upon the Savior!

  7. Myth #11: youth pastors have a Preference of age or gender when It comes to the exploited sexual assault victims.

    Let’s nip this in the bud too. Everyone knows youth pastors will prefer the consential secret sexual statutory relationship over the the harder to hide sexual assault and potential backlash. This is just like the rest of the church staff. So boys, girls, young, and old don’t be shy to strike up an illegal sexual relationship with your youth pastor. It saves them a lot of work, grooming a non consential victim.

    So put it to rest

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