Core Competencies Of The Youth Leader

While reading this article in the past week, I was reminded again of the disposable income of teens in America. Read it. The 35 million teenagers in America control about 250 to 300 billion dollars annually in spending money.

Our culture is mesmerized by Youth. Marketers target them for their money. Organizations covet them for their energy. And government hustles for their votes. And with this infatuation will come a significant opportunity for the Church. Over the past few weeks I have been asked many times about the role of the Youth Pastor/Youth Leader in the American Church. My response has been the same. That I believe the role of the Student Pastor is going to increase with the rise of the importance of Youth in our culture.

It is a pressing fact that Youth are increasing in importance in our day. From marketing and advertising initiatives, the rise of youth entertainment ICONS, and the social media movement, Youth have become the focal point of our American culture. And this is not a small thing. Leveraging the Church's influence over these teens is vital to sustaining the Church's impact upon these teens in the coming decade.

So, here are my general thoughts and qualifications about the kind of Student Leadership that is necessary in the Church:

  • The Student Pastor must develop all facets of Student Ministries under the Lead Pastor. The internal and external focus and impact begins with the Lead Pastor's vision.

  • The Student Pastor must have some level of administration and understand systems and programs. This is not the primary competency of the Youth Leader, but, it is important. And if the leader cannot manage these structures, it must be a priority delegated role.

  • The Student Pastor must create the main vision working with adult and student volunteers. This position is responsible for collaborative planning, coordinating, overseeing, and evaluating the spiritual formation of the students in the ministry.

  • There are several primary foci the Youth Leader must consider: personal spiritual authority, preaching and teaching, discipleship, leadership development, and relationship and people skills.

  • There are secondary foci the Youth Leader must consider: These core competencies include small group, event/activity, outreach, cultural and social knowledge, critical thinking skills, and organizational and administrative skills.

  • The Youth Leader must model personal spiritual integrity through consistent spiritual formation and character development

Aside from these general understandings, here are several other helpful competencies for the Student Pastor:


This individual's commitment to Christ will be evidenced in his/her personal life, family relationships, and ministry


A Bachelor's degree (B. A.) from a four-year college or university; or one to two years related experience and/or training; or equivalent combination of education and experience


The Student Pastor should be one of the leading sociologists on the planet, able to discern and articulate the developing trends and futurist movements in culture


A strong interpersonal skill, preaching and teaching methods, and the ability to relate to today's Youth is important. The ability to effectively present philosophy and information, as well as to respond to questions from Youth, parents, staff or congregation.


Ability to read, analyze, and interpret general business documents and forms. The Student Pastor must possess solid time management skills, and be able to define problems, collect data, establish facts, solve problems, and draw valid conclusions.


A beginning understanding of what it takes to work efficiently and effectively in individual or team situations. Organizational abilities include the ability to coordinate several activities at once and to quickly analyze and resolve problems in programming with other departments on the team.


The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. But, personal wellness (sleep, nutrition, and fitness) must be a central commitment.


The ideal candidate should be creative, have a passion and heartfelt concern for teens and leaders, be a high capacity producer, and be able to inspire others.

The growing Youth movement in America demands a growing competency in the Youth Leader. Because today's teens and millennials are spoiled and motivated, the core competencies of the Youth Leader are vital for the Church to consider. Or we miss the opportunity before us of attracting and impacting this younger generation.

Jeff Grenell