Being a Student Pastor in a Money World

A Money World

Let’s be honest (and this may be a new concept to some people) but the world of a student pastor can be quite the juggling experience.  My next 3 posts will be all about the world of the student pastor and the things he or she juggles.  From a student ministry budget, to social media, to just plain business, all these can wreak havoc on the life and effectiveness of a student pastor.

So let’s start with what may be one of the more stressful areas in church life…the student ministry budget.

Here’s my example…My first church was an awesome country church in a small town in West Tennessee.  My memories of the people of that church swell with joy.  My memories of my student ministry budget however, lead me to tears.  Understandably by budget was small, but as we grew our budget did not.  I can clearly remember going into a deacon’s meeting to make a request to purchase pencils for a Wednesday night…PENCILS!!

So how are we supposed to grow and keep up with that growth with a budget (in our minds) that may not meet those needs.  Well…what do you spend your budget on?  Where does it go?  If you’re like me, a majority of you budget goes towards events like camps and disciple nows, as well as mission trips.  So how are we supposed to make our other ministry opportunities excellent if your budget is tied up in those major events.

Allow me to encourage you for just a second, less expensive doesn’t mean less excellent. That is determined by how you approach everything you plan. You can do excellent even if it’s free.

Let me stop for just a moment and be a little transparent…my office administrator will laugh the moment she reads this blog…she knows this is my struggle.  So let’s looks at some areas of the student ministry budget and see where we can still be effective with less money.


Wednesday Nights

I don’t know what your “main event” is for the week in your specific ministry, but I’m going to assume your direct your students to one focal gathering for your students.  Ours is our midweek worship service for students and we want to constantly make what we do on Wednesday nights better and the struggle is how we can effectively use our budget to enhance our midweek worship experience.

This is just a list of things that make up our Wednesday nights and where we spend our money.

Series Design: If we spend money on our message series design it may be on fonts or subscriptions to to sites where we can download images for backgrounds.  There are websites where you can download fonts for free (just make sure they are relevant and current).

Stage Design: Hello Pinterest!  Pinterest is FILLED with ideas that can help spark the creative juices in your mind.  Pinterest isn’t there for you to steal other ideas, but to learn and inspire you create something awesome for your ministry.

Games: If you have students who love games, may I suggest Jimmy Fallon or Hollywood game night.  There are great examples of free or cheap games you can incorporate into your specific ministries.

Other Events

Like it or not you have to do more stuff with your students other than Summer camp, disciple now, and a mission trip.  So how can you do these things without breaking the back?

Well, remember when you were a kid and you had to play outside with your friends?  What were some of the things you did them? We used to play whiffle ball, kickball, basketball, and football.  Why not play some of those games?  Those are extremely inexpensive.

You could also do something like a Messy Game night, go bowling, or have a pool party at someone’s house.  Then have another pool party and just call it a Luau…that’s sneaky…and cheap.


Getting the word out can be expensive sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be.  Your students are on social media…well, most of them are.  If your student ministry is in the social media world too, then getting the word out can be absolutely free. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc..

Email is free too, it just takes time to gather everyone’s information.

If printed information is a must, then I would encourage you to go to places like Next Day Flyers. This is an inexpensive place for you to get a large amount of printed material (post cards, flyers, posters, etc.) at a not so expensive price.


Student Ministry can be expensive, and some events are simply going to cost money for you and your students, but I want to encourage you to be creative.  Just because you are finding ways to cut the cost in some areas, it doesn’t mean that you have to expect less from those events or experiences.  Make a list of what you do in your ministry…where can you use your budget more creatively and effectively?

What are some things you have done to cut costs for your students?




4 Thoughts on Preparing a Message for Students…

As a student pastor, there are a few things I run through when prepping for Wednesday nights or the occasional Sunday morning.  I’m sure every student pastor has a list of some kind, but I would like to share a few thoughts that help me when I’m preparing a message for students…so here goes.


I want you to feel the weight of that statement.  I think we might have the tendency to read that and think, but I want them to hear from Jesus.  Well that’s extremely super Christian of you and point well taken, but a majority of your students are not showing up on Wednesdays and Sundays to hear from Jesus…they simply don’t think that way.  They’re there to hear the music, play the games, hear what you have to say, socialize with their “bros in bro tanks,” or hear about what’s coming up on the calendar.

I’m reminded of what Paul wrote to the church in Corinth…”follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”  Your students are coming to hear you…your students care about what you have to say…therefore, you must follow the example of Christ and speak the words of Christ so they can follow you as you follow Him.  If you are with Christ, then your students will hear from Christ…


Allow me to preface this by saying this is probably my favorite part of preparing messages or a message series.  I love designing logos and setting up rooms to match, but I also love finding scripture and allowing that to fuel my creativity.  We can spend an unnecessary amount of time discussing the pros and cons of topical or expository preaching, but here’s what I believe…the Gospel knows no bounds.  Whichever way you decide to go with a message or series, pick a direction and go with it.  Stage design, lighting, logos, handouts, worship set…you can be as creative as you want with these things, or you can let someone else be creative for you.

Warning…you can be uber creative and still miss the importance of the Gospel.  Be creative, but keep Christ at the center.


Fight the urge to be someone you are not in order to gain the ear of the listener.  BE AUTHENTIC.  Students can spot a fake, so while you’re preparing your message, make sure it is factual and make sure it is coming from an authentic heart.

Refer to my first point…they want to hear you!  So if they are hearing someone who is trying to be someone they are not, they will either become fake with you or they will right you off.


Evernote, Penulitmate, or a journal, it makes no difference, but you should write out what it is you are trying to say.  I understand this isn’t for everyone, but I believe this allows you to flesh out ideas as you find the single point you want your students to walk away with (FYI…if your students aren’t walking away with a single point, then you are missing it).  I encourage you to write out what you want to say word-for-word.

Once you’ve done this…review…outline…teach!

Yes…it takes time to write or type it all out, but the rewards are great.


* Again, these are just thoughts that help me as I prepare.  I don’t always get them right and sometimes I ignore them (to my own detriment), but hopefully you can find some use for these as I have.