The Senior Pastor and the Reformation of Youth Ministry
by Richard Ross
We have featured books by Dr. Richard Ross before and there are reasons. This man loves Jesus, loves his family, and is very passionate about youth & family ministry. You can always count on Dr. Ross to stir up your affections for the Biblical Christ and call you to pray earnestly for revival. Dr. Ross saturates his writing and speaking in God’s Word and a mountain of research.
However, one of my favorite things about Dr. Ross is his willingness to regularly innovate specialized ministry in order to best serve children and students. In other words, he is never satisfied with the status quo. He always directs ministers back to God’s Word and the latest research in order to see the gospel shared and disciples made more effectively.
The book we are looking at today is a great example of that. I re-read the book recently for a project that I was working on and I’m so glad that I did. Though the book came out in 2015, the topic remains extremely relevant. Engaging senior leadership in the discipleship of kids, students, and parents is absolutely essential. Pastors, you’ll be sharpened, encouraged, and challenged by this work. May this book awaken a new fire in the hearts of senior leadership:
My copy of the book is FILLED with highlights and notes, but I’ve chosen five to present to you today. Hopefully, it encourages you to pick the book up and dive in headfirst:
- “Much is at stake. Throughout history a young generation has shaped the culture for good or ill. Teenagers and young adults have led revivals, holy wars, jihad, and revolution. The pastor who impacts teenagers impacts the world.” (1)
- “This book assumes the senior pastor has led the congregation to affirm a biblical mission and direction for the entire church. Where that is not the case, youth ministry (and every other subministry) will flounder for direction.” (3)
- “Church schedules tend to become more complicated over time. Sometimes a ministry or program that was strategic when it began now lives on simply because of inertia. Sometimes a staff member tries to justify his position by starting new things, and those new things outlive his tenure. Like barnacles under the boat, meetings and activities accumulate over time, and they can weigh down the life of the church…Some senior pastors may need to assemble the staff and the key leaders of the church. They may need to review the mission and core functions of the church. Then they may want to start with a clean slate related to church schedules. That allows them to consider at what days and hours they want to place their core functions and gatherings. With the core functions solidly in place in the prime time slots, they then can consider where secondary functions might fit (and which need to just go away).” (150)
- “Pastors, open-group leaders, covenant-group leaders, and parents should be busy all the time connecting teenagers to the full congregation. From time to time, pastors should ask a teenager, “Not counting parents and youth leaders, who are some adults who know your name and seem interested in your life?” This will help pastors know if they are making progress.” (160)
- “Leaders have spent the last fifty years increasingly segregating age groups from one another. Perhaps it is time for fresh thinking about ways churches can use buildings, budgets, and calendars to create rich webs of relationships around every child, teenager, and adult. One result might be eighteen-year-olds who love Christ’s church and who consider the full congregation to be family.” (171)
I believe that if a senior pastor or elder board worked slowly through this book, they would come away with a clearer picture of where their teenagers are in the faith and what to do next. There are no quick fixes in the book, and that is one of many reasons to recommend it.
Also, parents would benefit greatly from this resource! Much of what is discussed in the book gives view to what teenagers need and what parents are called to do in relation to those needs.
I hope this book blesses you as much as it blessed me!
Director of Training and Consulting
Family Time Training