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  • Hannah Williamson

5 Questions every Youth Pastor should be asking right now.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had a number of zoom calls with youth pastors (zoom...remember when that word sounded like something from a cheesy sci-fi film?!). The questions came up over and over again ‘what can I actually do right now?!’ Young people are facing huge pressure and we don’t really see them to help them like we would have done just over a year ago! Think about it for a moment, young people are stuck indoors with their parents! That show I used to watch as a kid seems to have more relevance now than ever – ‘my parents are aliens!’ Anyone remember that?! I can imagine kids are actually asking that question on a daily basis. Jokes aside, in the teenage years, young people need good parents, but good parenting is hard to find. We have a family in our church who have 3 teenagers and during our week of prayer they were on zoom all together around the table. I remember looking and thinking how good it was but then realised this really is not normal. The stress on young people particularly living in tension filled homes will be huge right now and it will feel like it’s never going to end!

Consider the schooling stress! As much as we would have said young people would be ecstatic about not going to school, it’s probably gone beyond this point now and even if a young person is happy doing less school work, the social interaction which is so vital to their development will be lacking and then there is the constant changing of what they are doing, what’s happening with exams and just simply their futures. I remember being so fearful as a teenager about what my future looked like. I can’t imagine what I’d be feeling if I was in their shoes right now!

Finally (and there are a hundred other difficulties to consider, but I’ll stick to a few for right now) consider the impact of the screen. It was a problem before Covid and I remember the struggles when I had a small group of girls who were seemingly addicted to their phones. Now, they have to use screens for school, for socialising and pretty much everything else. We have known for some time how easily accessible all sorts of things are for young people online. There may be some parents trying to encourage their kids to do ‘other things’ like walking or playing board games as a family, but if we’re honest, again, this will be rare.

If you are a youth pastor our there it’s a challenging time and so I have given 5 questions that I think you should be asking yourself right now as we are, for many of us, in a third lock down.

How much time am I personally giving to my walk with Jesus?

I start with this question on purpose because without Jesus right now things are fairly bleak. There are no youth pastor books on ‘How to reach Young People when in the middle of a pandemic.’ If you know of any, let me know but as far as I am aware this is new territory. We need to remind ourselves that our inspiration, our ideas and our plans moving forward need to come from Jesus. We may have relied (probably too much) on our skill sets as youth leaders, being able to put impressive youth programmes together or being able to easily connect with young people. Now, we just need to hear from Jesus, so we know how to actually be a youth pastor in this current world we live in.

Ironically in a time when we tend to have ‘more time’ we give less time to the things we should. Have you found yourself drifting through the day, wondering by the end of the day what you actually did with your time? Can I challenge you to get your bible, a journal and find a spot in your house or go for a walk and listen to Jesus. Seek him for direction in how to Youth lead in this world we all find ourselves in. Ask for fresh revelation from his word. He knew we’d be where we are today and he has things to say to us, ways to guide us.

I was reading Proverbs 1 in the Passion version of the bible the other day and in verse 5 it says, ‘For the wise, these proverbs will make you even wiser, and for those with discernment, you will be able to acquire brilliant strategies for leadership.’ As I pray for you Youth Pastors today I am praying that God will give you a discerning heart and open up ‘brilliant strategies’ to reach and disciple young people as we live in this current world we live in.

What next step can I take?

Plan your day out tomorrow and try giving God 10% of your time. In a 24 hour period that’s 2.4 hours! See what God whispers into your heart for both you personally and the young people you lead!

Are we doing anything right now to raise young leaders?

If you know me, you know this is my passion. I believe as youth pastors you have the responsibility to raise the next generation of leaders. And not just young people who have influence but young people who bring Jesus into the world. Young people who one day might plant churches, reach unreached people groups, impact society, bring Jesus into places that people never have before. Young people don’t suddenly become great. They are grown through lots of care and strategic development.

It would be easy in this season to be overwhelmed and be running from one thing to the other just trying to do something to connect with young people. I have observed in various areas of church over the past year that people who once served in a particular area may not feel that same burden anymore. This of course happens over time and teams change but it seems to be more so than ever. Maybe people are prioritising their time more or maybe people are just not placing serving the local church as a high priority. Whatever the reason, there will come a point that we will come out of this pandemic and we will need teams ready to steam ahead growing, discipling, evangelising through the local church. When it comes to youth ministry you will need some good youth leaders to pick up some of the ‘mess’ of what has happened during this season. Youth leaders who will need to know how to help a young person who has lost a parent, a young person who has failed their exams and doesn’t know how to move forward, a young person who has been abused and has no one to talk to, a young person who is addicted to porn and doesn’t know what to do about it!

These great leaders are not going to just suddenly appear when the pandemic is over. You will need to have them ready and so I want to encourage you as youth Pastors to get a group of young people on zoom and start training them. Find innovative ways to develop and stretch them. Help them learn how to learn!!! Give them books to read that will grow their leadership. Have one to one conversations, asking them questions that will challenge them! Do something to get them ready!!!

Matthew 9:9-13 gives the account of Jesus calling Matthew to be one of his disciples. He tells him to ‘follow him.’ We then see Jesus at Matthew's house, having dinner with a bunch of ‘awkward people!’ The bible describes them as sinners. Jesus gathers these people and pours into them. Go gather some young people, pour into them, allow them to follow you and show them how to reach a world for Jesus.

What next step can I take?

Identify between 5-10 young people between the ages of 15-18 who you could start training. Plan how to develop them. (as an aside this is really on my heart and I’d love to chat this through with any youth pastors who would like help putting a plan in place!)

How are you making contact with ‘on the edge’ young people?

You know the kids I mean! We all have them in our youth groups. The ones you only see on a Friday. I often wondered if 2 or 3 hours on a Friday had any impact when these young people went back to homes where Jesus was only used as a curse word. I was often reminded with these young people how we as Youth pastors plant the seed and then really allow God to do the rest! We certainly cant take much credit for what God does in their lives. There are many young people I can think of like this. In fact, during lock down one of my girls, now in her late 20’s came back to Jesus. I remember wondering if that would ever happen as it felt like I’d not done much. Maybe I hadn’t! But God had!!!

Firstly, I want to encourage you youth pastors that the little you have poured in God will grow and you can trust that he is looking after these young people and you just don’t know what has gone in. maybe as they feel alone in their rooms they remember that preach where you taught them how to pray and they call out to God. Maybe they remember when you showed them how to download the Youversion app and so they open it. Who knows? God know and we have to trust him with them.

I do, however want to encourage you to do something to make some form of contact! Its important! I remember when I was youth pastoring and I had interns, one of the jobs I would get them to do (I am sure to their annoyance!!) was write cards to random young people. They had a picture of our youth group on and just said ‘We think you are amazing’ and then the intern would write a little note encouraging them. One ‘on the edge’ kid was overwhelmed by this card he received! He was so excited that we would do this! Ephesians 5:2 tells us to ‘live a life of love.’ It’s what our gospel is all about! Love can be hugely demonstrative or it can be shown in lots of small different ways. Maybe a way to connect with those ‘on the edge’ young people is to show love in a small way so they know you haven’t forgotten them!

What next step can I take?

Brainstorm with your team ways that you could practically show love to an ‘on the edge’ young person who you haven’t seen in a while….a gift, a card, a ‘we think you are amazing’ poster put on the window of their house?! I’m sure you can come up with some creative ways!

How are we getting the Word of God into young people’s lives?

The obvious things are often the things we overlook and let’s be honest, we all know this is obvious. The Word of God has power to change lives. It is God’s direct words to us after all! Hebrews 4:12 tells us, ‘For the Word of God is alive and active.’ Read that again – ALIVE and ACTIVE. I remember having a couple of guys that interned with me a few years ago. One of the things they did as part of this was preach in our youth group. My biggest constructive criticism always related to the use of the Word of God. How are you sharing the Word of God with these young people rather than just giving them a motivational talk? I remember one of them saying to me that it was hard to find things about modern day issues in the bible! I am sure you can imagine my response – go look harder because its in there!!!!

I firmly believe that we as youth pastors/leaders have a responsibility to help young people get into the Word of God. I sometimes wonder why as a young person I didn’t go away from God. I was in a good family and a good church but let’s be real, there is a lot of temptation out there and there are a lot of difficulties. I have come to the conclusion that the reason I didn’t was because I had really learnt how to read the word, apply it my life and hear what God wanted to say to me through it. I learnt as a child how to hear God’s voice and that kept me grounded. So often young people in our youth ministries can rely on the words of the youth pastor or youth leader – they are looking for some kind of hero, often to replace the lack of this they receive from family. You can’t be that hero. God can.

Right now more than ever, when we don’t have direct contact with young people, we need to help them get into the Word. You once again probably need to get quite creative with the how, but it can be done. Maybe you schedule some phonecalls with young people and talk about it, maybe you put content out there that speaks to that, maybe you direct them to the youversion bible, maybe you print out some bible verses and send through the post so they can have it on their wall as the first thing they see. Do whatever you can to get the Word of God into their homes and into their hearts.

What next step can I take?

Have a conversation this week with a young person (with another youth leader there so they can learn how to do it!) about the bible, showing them how to read it and apply it to their lives. Then ask that leader to do the same with another young person.

How are we helping and empowering young people to win their friends to Jesus?

This should always be a conversation but maybe even more so now. When I was in the thick of youth ministry there were multiple ways that young people came to our youth group and came to find Jesus. A main way was always and always will be through young people inviting their friends. There were many other ways, however, such as our schools ministry. This attracted tons to our youth ministry and many found Jesus as a result. Another way people came was through us meeting young people on the street and inviting them. The reality is that we are not out on the street meeting young people right now or in schools and I doubt schools work as we know it will go back to the way it was for quite some time. So we are left with the young people. But maybe this is what is needed? Imagine if a young person strategically planned how to win all their friends to Jesus? Imagine!!!! Think about the contact they will have with their friends right now….it will certainly be more than you! They have friends on social media, they still will see friends from school through online learning and maybe they do some kind of video call or play games with them online (clearly I’m not a guy and have no clue how this works but I think it’s a thing?!?!).

When I was in school, I tended to be that friend that everyone came to with their problems. I always felt like I had no clue what to say but just asked Jesus to help me. Think about the struggles young people are facing now and maybe they are messaging friends sharing because they have no one else to go to. Your young people need to be prayed up, empowered up and trained up to reach these friends. Have you though through ways you could help young people do that? Are you offering resources to help young people know how to help a friend that has lost someone to Covid? Have you come up with ways a young person can help a friend who is feeling lonely?

Matthew 10:1 starts by saying, ‘Jesus called the twelve disciples to him and gave them authority…’ He gathered them and then empowered them to go out and change the world. How are you doing the same?

What next step can I take?

Come up with a list of struggles young people may be facing right now – come up with some resources to help your young people be the leaders, evangelists and pastors to their friends.


This is most certainly a challenging time for all and my heart is going out to every youth pastor and youth ministry across our nation. You may be feeling at a loss as to what to do, but God has you and is ready to download innovative ideas to you and your teams so you can continue to impact and reach a generation for Jesus! I’m praying for you all!

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