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Advice from a Young Adult Pastor  //  Some words of wisdom from a pastor of young adults to youth workers everywhere.

16 Feb Discipleship, Student Ministry | Comments Off on Advice from a Young Adult Pastor
Advice from a Young Adult Pastor
Editor’s Note: We’re excited to have as a guest writer this week, Rob Tucker, Pastor of Youth & Young Adults at Living Word Community Church in York, PA. Rob is a former youth pastor who now oversees ministries spanning infancy to young adulthood. We asked him to share a bit of advice to youth workers from a pastor of young adults perspective.

The Missing Piece of Youth Ministry

Do you ever get a headache hearing the disheartening statistics of how many of your youth ministry’s teenagers will graduate from high school, never to enter the walls of your church…ever…again?  More than likely, they will go away to college, and some tweed-wearing guy with dark-rimmed glasses named Hans, will convince them that the Bible is bunk and that the faith of their parents is a waste of time.  From there they will spiral wildly out of control, forgetting that true love waits, get a tattoo (preferably of a Chinese symbol) to display their misplaced angst, and start a blog about how their “rigid religious background” ruined their lives.

I know I did.  It was one of the reasons that I stepped away from directly working with youth, and began to help our church reconfigure our ministry to 18-29 year olds.  (That, plus an increasing amount of grey hair.)  I have by no means given up on youth ministry, but am among a growing number of people that have recognized the need for an extension of age-specific ministry into young adulthood.

But what can be done by youth ministries to combat this drop-off phenomenon?

I recently met David Kinnaman and had the privilege of interviewing him about his latest book, You Lost Me, Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…And Rethinking Faith.  Kinnaman is the president of the Barna group, and as such, is responsible for the headaches that some of you have received from the recent statistics.  One of my questions to him was: why are younger adults leaving the church?  He gave many good answers, most of which can be found in his book.

But there was one particular missing piece of youth ministry that he really honed in on.  He said it came from visiting many churches, doing countless surveys, and observing  the current youth ministry landscape.  There was one thing, he said, that was so simple, so obvious, but so missing.


Mentoring.  That was it.  He said that he saw a disturbing lack of good old-fashioned mentoring going on in churches in general and youth ministries in particular.  He defined mentoring as an older man taking initiative with a younger one, in an intentional and structured way, for the purposes of the Kingdom.  It’s an older woman, spending time with and sharing her life with a younger one, with hopes to pass on the life-changing truths of Jesus.  He said that he saw lots of dynamic programs, some amazing worship, some very gifted youth speakers, and maybe even a chubby-bunny contest or two, but he failed to see effective mentoring taking place.

You may have amazing mentoring taking place.  Or, you may be like most of the churches that the Barna group surveyed.  Either way, could there ever be enough emphasis on this timeless and transformative disciple-making strategy?  I can’t help but think that such a strategy, widely held, would begin to turn around and chip away at the ugly drop-off stats.  Today is the day to start increasing your mentoring strategy.

Who knows?  You might even find that headache beginning to fade away.


Rob TuckerRob Tucker is the pastor of young adults at Living Word Community Church in York, PA (Liquid, and also oversees the youth and children’s ministries there.  Rob is married with 4 children and blogs at The Skipping Stone.