Dear Student Pastor (Part 1)

I’ll admit it…it’s getting more difficult every day to pastor students today.  I think it’s this growing difficulty that is causing student pastors to change their mentality of ministry or even in some cases it’s caused pastors to change who they are.  Believe me, I know those urges, but I think it’s something that we have wrestle with if we’re going to continue to lean into the lives of students.

My next few posts will be specifically to student pastors as encouragement to not just lead, but to lead strong.  In order to do this, there are some things we have to overcome.

FIGHT THE URGE: To Tippy-Toe Around Certain Topics In Order to Not Upset Students or Parents.

I think it’s important for to remember what we have been called to do.  The world of a student is complicated and we are supposed to partner with parents and lean into the lives of their student(s) with the love of Christ.  But for some reason, we have equated leaning into the lives of students with encouraging, but not challenging.

The last thing we want to do is upset someone.  We don’t want them to be mad at us, and to some degree, we don’t want them mad at God; so we speak to them and craft messages that may be excellent and biblical, but we avoid topics that may challenge a lifestyle and/or decisions they are making.  We avoid topics like homosexuality and abortion with students because we think they can hear that on Sundays from the pulpit. We would rather speak on topics like missions and how to live a radical life, and avoid topics that may cause heartburn.  If this is your mentality you are mis-understanding the task at hand, because avoiding (or ignoring) hard topics could very well lead to tolerance and acceptance of sin.  Let’s be transparent for a second, how many of you have students who have friends who struggle with Same Sex Attraction (SSA) and instead of speaking truth into their lives with love and truth, they avoid the topic and show acceptance of both the sin and the lifestyle?

How will students know how to lovingly lean into the lives of those struggling with SSA, or even someone who is thinking about having an abortion, if you haven’t been speaking the truth of the Scripture into their lives.  It’s not an “every-once-in-a-while” conversation, because these topics are shaping culture.  We must speak truth while encouraging students to reshape the culture they live in by that same truth which has so radically changed our own lives.  This is the truth that breathes life into the dead.

It’s not a bad thing to be bold.  It’s not a bad thing to speak truth.  It’s not a bad thing to speak truth into a culture that is confused as to what truth really is.

Some topics aren’t as controversial: Sports, time management, the stuff we listen to, the things we tweet. Challenge students on some of these topics and see what happens. I promise you’ll get some huffing and puffing and maybe even an unfollow or two on Twitter. But if you don’t challenge them, who will?

Dear Student Pastor, don’t tippy-toe…walk normal and speak loudly!


What are some topics we avoid as to not offend students and parents?


Helping students live sent where they are…


One of the more nerve-racking experiences for a student (and adults for that matter) is sharing their faith with others.  I wish I was exempt from this feeling, but I’m not…neither am I exempt from sharing my faith simply because I’m afraid of what others will think of me.  As someone who leans into the lives of students for a living, I believe I am supposed to help them, encourage them, and show them how we can help with the task of sharing the Gospel with those around us less terrifying.

I’m not about to offer a discipleship strategy or a message series on how to share the Gospel, but I do have a few ideas on ways we can encourage our students to make much of Jesus and share their faith with their friends without the use of “Jesus is my Homeboy” t-shirts (pet peeve…Jesus didn’t raise from the dead to be your homeboy…He did that to be your only hope for salvation).


Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Snapchat, Instagram…This is the world of a teenager and it is literally at their fingertips.  It doesn’t take long to scroll down someone’s timeline to see what is important to them.  Just look at their “instas” or read some of their retweets and you’ll pretty much know what’s going on in their lives.  They’re an open book and they don’t even know it.

What if we helped students use these social media outlets as tools to invite their friends to church or promote what’s going to happen on a Wednesday night in your student ministry…or even share the Gospel.  Create a special hashtag to promote a series or an event and encourage your students to tweet with that hashtag…for example:

Christ  died, Christ rose, He’s coming again!  #noONEgreater

It may be my naivety, but I believe we can use social media to make much of Jesus.

**Warning:  This will work better if you avoid all the Facebook drama


Invite Cards:  Do you have a special series coming up or an event, create a card and put it in the hands of students.  Believe it or not, a few of them will actually hand them out.  Handing out these cards may possibly begin a spiritual conversation where students can share the Gospel.

The LifeBook:  This is a great FREE resource that students can take to school and hand to their friends and talk with them about the hope they have in Christ.  It gives a brief synopsis of the Old Testament and then entire Gospel of John.  It also includes answers that students may ask pertaining to different passages.


Sometimes all it takes is a gentle reminder.  Encourage your students to continually invite people to your worship gatherings or events.  I am not encouraging students to invite their friends to come and see anything, but do want them to invite their friends to come and know Jesus.

I’ve always been told, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”  If this is the case then I want students squeaking all over the place.  The likelihood of guests just showing up are slim…your chances are better if they are invited.


Sometimes we need to be reminded that we are a sent people, and the best way to be sent is to live sent.  When we believe in Christ, the commission of Christ is grafted into our spiritual DNA.  It’s more that what we are supposed to do, it’s who we are supposed to be.  If we are going to encourage students to live sent, then it’s up to us to help them overcome the anxiety that may come with sharing that salvation comes through Jesus alone in a world that believes there’s more than one way to get anywhere.

Train your students…help your students…send your students.

How are you encouraging and helping students live sent where you are?