Here is a pretty funny mockumentary about a “Rock Star” youth pastor. It, of course, points out the obvious silliness of some “relevant” ministry, but my question is how does one connect with youth when you are significantly older than them? What approaches have you found helpful?


  1. Treat ’em like adults, but realize that they’re not.

    Don’t try to be cool, because they’ll smell that on you from miles away. Adults have a hard time spotting a phony—kids, not so much.

    Show interest in who they are and what they like. That doesn’t mean you have to like who they are or what they like.

    Make an effort to understand the world in which they live and traffic. Their rules may not be your rules and that may or may not be a bad thing—but you won’t know which until you understand apart from your own preconceived notions.

    Be the kind of person that people want to spend time with. Are you the kind of person that your friends enjoy? The kind of person that people would like to add to their collection of friends? Then you’ll have a fair chance at connecting with kids.

    Model the kind of life you hope they will emulate. If they like you, that may turn to admiration. If they admire you, that may turn to emulation.

    Don’t pander. Give depth to your teaching. Anything you’d teach adults are things that teens can process.

    Focus on Scripture and the gospel. Because, presumably, that’s what you are there for. And hopefully, that will become the reason why they are there as well.

    Don’t rely on illustrations from pop culture. They’re maybe fine for the people who are familiar with the particular thing you’re talking about, but they often serve to alienate those who are ignorant of the source. Or worse, they alienate those who are not fans of your source.

    Hang out with the youth occasionally in your free time. No agenda, just hanging out like friends do. Eat pizza, watch movies, play games, get coffee, whatever.

    Oh yeah, and if some kid isn’t into you, that’s fine. A lot of people probably aren’t. Nobody is loved by everybody.

    The Danes last blog post..20090417.teaParty

  2. Great thoughts Dane. Do you personally work with youth, or are these just your astute observations?

  3. Yeah, I’ve worked with youth pretty consistently since I got out of high school in 1992. Sometimes college-aged, sometimes high-school-aged. Currently, I work with the high schoolers at our congregation and we’re finding that the biggest challenge is that we don’t really have as much support from the parents as we’d like. They keep enrolling their kids in a myriad of activities, sports, and after-school lessons so that the kids don’t have time to become involved in whatever we prepare for them.

    The Danes last blog post..20090417.teaParty

  4. I also work with youth and wholeheartedly echo what Dane has said.
    I’ve come to realize that the best way I can become “relevant” is not by trying to be relevant but by doing the things that only the church can do, loving them as a pastor ought to love them, and pointing them to the only One that will ever remain relevant.

    Like Dane said, not every kid will love you or connect with you…and that always stinks…but at the end of the day my job is to proclaim Jesus and let Him do the connecting.

    Mike Leakes last blog post..Hump Day Humor: Dog Diary v. Cat Diary

  5. I don’t know how many of you actually watched the video for this but it really is hillarious. I just watched it a second time and still can’t stop laughing at it.

  6. Hilarious….and apt! I’ve known a few in my time.

    I echo what the Dane said. I would also say that young people can see right through you do while it is important to be prepared and organised sometimes being comfortable enough with yourself to be vulnerable (not completely put together all the time) can really break down walls.

    I worked with mainly “unchurched” youth so parental support was pretty scattered but consistently caring about young people over time, not a month or even a year, but years goes a long way not just with young people but their families too!

    Some of the most effective youth pastors I’ve met have been working with young people for over 30 years through every season of their lives. For them it was about recognising that your relationship (because of your relative age) changed just like you change. To be at peace with that and not try to be something you are not!

    just my two cents…

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