Priorities for Youth Pastors
We have a question from Sebastian, who writes: “I am a youth group leader from Switzerland. What are the core values from the Bible to pass on to my youth group, or what are the really important things we should give our youth today?” Obviously a youth pastor can’t develop a full systematic theology in the minds of his young people. He has got to choose some really key things to drive home. What would you put at the top of your list of priorities for him?
1) At the top — or maybe it would be better to say at the bottom, as foundation — a true Bible. Help these young people be rock solid and thrilled that they have a book in which the creator of the universe has spoken the truth to them about himself and about them and about the world. This is just stunning when you think about it. If this is true, if the Bible is inspired by God, we have a book in which our maker, our creator and the sustainer and the one who runs the universe has spoken to us the truth.
There can’t be anything more significant for a young person’s life than to have this book in their hand. This book tells me where I came from. This book tells me the meaning of life. This book tells me how to live and what my future can be. So that is number one. Every week, every time you get together, use the Bible in such a way as to communicate that we have a book here that is foundational truth for living.
Piper: “There can’t be anything more significant for a young person’s life than to have the Bible in their hand.”
2) A great God. So, a true Bible and a great God. Just constantly lift the sights of young people higher than they would go without your leadership. And “higher” means a greater and greater and greater view of God. Don’t sink down to a low level, assuming that this is what they need for you to connect with them.
So many leaders are so eager for relevance that they let the young people dictate all the agenda, and young people don’t realize that the way you solve their agenda is usually by creating space in their hearts for a massive God that reorients the whole agenda so they see everything differently. Build into them a great God.
3) Teach them that life is hard, and suffering is coming, and that this is an essential part of the Christian life.
4) Show them that the Christian life gives them the deepest meaning possible. Even though life is hard, it is richer and deeper and more satisfying to have a significant life in Christ than any other life.
Piper: “The agenda for youth is to create space in their hearts for a massive God that reorients their whole lives.”
5) Give them an absolutely certain, confident, glorious, view of the future — that no matter what happens, they have eternal life. Everything is going to work together for their good. They are going to have a new heavens and a new earth. Every wrong will be made right. God will be exalted, and they will have everlasting joy no matter what they sacrifice in this world on the way there.
6) The last thing, in, under, and around all of this, weave the gospel of the cross of Christ, that Christ has covered all their sins and has provided all their righteousness as they trust in him. Those are the radicals that I would build if I were leading some youth.