5 Myths About Youth Ministers

Most people who decide to pursue student ministry will, at one time or another, find themselves confronted by a number of myths about youth ministers. Many misconceptions exist. If you allow yourself to be daunted by them, you’ll lose sight of your noble goal. To stay the course, you must discern fact from fiction. Here are five fallacies to disregard in your career pursuit.

Myth 1: You don’t need a college education to become a youth pastor.

Most churches require their youth ministers hold a bachelor’s degree. Though many churches don’t require a specific major, it’s advisable to complete a degree in theology or Bible study. Scriptural knowledge is necessary to succeed as a youth pastor. Some degree programs for youth pastors focus on leadership, counseling, child psychology, teen challenges, and family relationships.

In a youth ministry degree program, you’ll learn techniques for engaging teens in spiritual exploration and growth. Typical coursework includes religion history, church doctrine, and spiritual rituals. Other subjects you’ll study are public speaking, writing, and literature.

You may need to obtain an internship or volunteer hours working with youth, preferably at a church or community center. Many degree programs include interning as part of their curricula. During such training, you’ll work under the supervision of a senior pastor or another youth minister. Among the skills you’ll acquire are how to lead a youth group and build teamwork.

Related resource: Top 10 Online Bachelor’s in Youth Ministries 2017

Myth 2: Youth pastors only work in churches and with kids.

If the idea of being employed by a church doesn’t appeal to you but you’d still like to work with kids, rest assured. Youth minister jobs are also available community organizations, schools, and religious organizations. Youth for Christ is a global employer of youth directors, overseeing young people in missions and evangelism. In the US alone, there are over 160 YFC chapters. Another large employer of youth pastors is The Salvation Army.

In local communities, youth pastors support parents by connecting them with neighborhood resources. Youth leaders also recruit, train, and work with volunteers.

Myth 3: A youth minister’s primary role is hosting games.

That youth pastor’s primarily spend their time playing games is one of the most erroneous youth pastor myths. The truth is that group games are only part of the picture. The main purpose of a youth pastor is to help kids deepen their relationship with Christ. There are many ways to do this, and the youth minister creates such opportunities.

In addition to playing games, youth pastors are busy training kids to serve in church as lectors, cantors, musicians, ushers, and Eucharistic ministers. Some youth ministers might lead a youth choir, Bible study, or retreat. Other possibilities are running a Sunday School program or Vacation Bible School.

Youth pastors also often take kids on mission trips. Their purpose is to help needy people abroad, expressing the love of God. Directors also hold recreational activities, such as parties, sleepovers, camps, sports games, and ski trips. In this context, youth pastors assume an authoritative role, enforcing rules and discipline.

Another service youth pastors render is counseling. This involves both attentive listening and offering advice. Teens may seek to know how religion fits in with daily life. They may be troubled by social issues and opposing church views. Youth pastors make religion practical for their charges.

In short, a youth pastor evaluates all spiritual opportunities and tailors them to young people. They extend inviting ways for kids to stay involved in their local parish.

Myth 4: If a youth group remains small, it means the youth pastor is a failure.

Among the myths about youth ministers, this is the most prejudicial. Church administration may view group numbers as a reflection of how hard a director works. However, more important than program size is effectiveness. When group numbers get too large, effectiveness wanes. A long roster makes it hard for directors to give kids close attention. Teens themselves become overwhelmed by being in a huge crowd.

Think of yourself in a class held in an auditorium. Aren’t you less likely to socialize than in a small classroom? Among the throng of fellow students, you can feel insignificant. In sizable youth groups, teens are likewise uncomfortable, and their unique needs fall by the wayside.

If a program grows larger than a small group size (larger than 40 kids or so), the director must have enough foresight to section the group into smaller circles, and assign more adult mentors. Or, they can have adults oversee specific activities, such as a pizza party, baseball game, or music rehearsals.

Productive youth pastors have an overall plan, specifying achievable goals. They also have the supervisory skills to implement them. To track outcomes, they document progress. Then, they analyze results. Youth directors are usually asked to submit program reports to church boards and senior pastors.

According to Church Leaders, success is measured in terms of teen involvement. Examples are:

  • student enthusiasm at meetings
  • evidence of kids taking initiative
  • bonding and trusting among kids
  • regular attendance at program events
  • active participation in religious services
  • taking part in community outreaches


The takeaway is that youth directors with small groups shouldn’t feel incompetent. Moreover, administration shouldn’t have biased expectations regarding numbers.

Myth 5: Salaries for youth pastors are meager.

This is one of the youth minister myths that’s especially discouraging for zealous candidates. Salaries depend on several factors. Among them are:

  • your education
  • work experience
  • employer size
  • youth group size

A high school education delivers roughly $20,000 per year. With a bachelor’s degree, the average salary is more than twice as much. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2015 the median salary for a youth pastor was $44,250 per year.

A master’s degree leads to a 15 percent increase over a bachelor’s. With a doctorate, you can gross $76,000 a year.

Another deciding factor is work experience. Naturally, a new grad earns less than a seasoned director with a 10-year tenure. In a church setting, the larger the congregation, the bigger a youth pastor’s paycheck.

Forge Ahead!

If you have a fervent desire to work in youth ministry, don’t be intimidated by these myths. With a college degree, you’ll have a variety of job opportunities and a substantial salary. Along with kids, you’ll work with parents, volunteers, and adult sponsors.

If you opt to lead a small group, stay confident in your abilities. If you run a large program, use your stellar management skills. Either way, you’ll play a vital role in the spiritual formation of young people