We Are So Thankful: Appreciation for Youth Ministers, Part Two
One ofis . This Thanksgiving week, we invited parents and youth ministers (along with some wonderful students) to celebrate their partnership in the gospel by expressing gratitude for one another (see our first responses here). So here’s to the youth ministers who faithfully teach the Word, plan events, spend time with teenagers, and point them to the gospel week by week!
, Mother of three boys in Birmingham, AL
I really don’t know how you respond so perfectly to teenage boys’ group text messages for small group Bible study, but you do. A perfectly placed meme or gif with a nugget of wisdom sandwiched in there keeps the boys engaged and listening. You know to provide tacos and burgers for their Sunday night meetings because teen boys are highly motivated by food. You aren’t afraid to present material that is uncomfortable and challenging, and you always present the Gospel. You know when to be stern and when to sit back and let them be silly. Thank you for enduring and persevering with a generation who loves to late-cancel and no-show, yet still desires (and needs) to connect whether they realize it or not. I know my voice grows quieter as my teen gets older, so I am so thankful to have wise voices outside of the family pouring into him. It doesn’t just take a village, it takes the church. Thank you for showing up for and supporting our son, equipped with the Gospel, hilarious gifs, and last but not least, tacos.
, Mother to a daughter and two sons in Birmingham, AL
Oh, to count the many reasons I am forever indebted to the three or four youth ministers who cheerfully and faithfully came alongside our three kids during the confusing years of their adolescence and showed them the Gospel. I am grateful to them as role models, confidence-keepers, teachers, and companions. But perhaps most of all, I am grateful to these men and women for taking my children to Six Flags Over Georgia. What a gift I can never, ever repay. I would rather sit all day in a hot, enclosed, windowless room that smells like the zoo after a rain, with nothing to read, than take my children to the place where I cannot find God. I loathe the lines, the heat (one must go it seems in the summer when school is not in session — and I did specify Georgia), the so-called “food,” the noise, the crowds, and the public restrooms. I cannot ride those death-teasing rides, and I’d rather not watch my children ride them. If I am sent to Hell as my eternal reward, I will find myself in that Amusement, nay, Torture, Park. Jesus Christ is my Savior, praise God, but it is my children’s blessed youth ministers who saved me from my own personal nightmare. God bless them one and all!
, Mom of two children in Edmond, OK
Saying “thank you” to the men and women who invest in our children’s lives seems like it doesn’t cover the magnitude of our gratefulness. The countless texts, prayers, and genuine conversations of our youth ministers have given our kids an assurance that the body of believers continues to be present, that they are not alone in their current season. We are especially thankful for those who shepherded our oldest through the decision to walk with Christ. Although there were many leaders who previously invested years of teaching, prayers, and community, it was during the first year of middle school when genuine connection and raw honesty, combined with the Lord’s timing and power, changed our oldest child’s worldview. As we walked alongside our youth pastors and staff, it became clear that our oldest child had a mutual desire for true faith and an assurance of salvation. And so we waited, prayed and continued to share God’s love and His Word.
That time created not only a relationship of honest connection but mutual respect with our youth pastors. We were all pointed in the same direction and continued to walk with each other in confidence of our responsibility as shepherds in Christ. So, to merely say “thank you” for the kingdom work our youth ministry has been called to seems inadequate. We are eternally grateful each and every day for their love, time, and faithfulness!
, Davidson College 2020 graduate
Thank you for faithfully pouring into me the three years we had together! I would not have been able to name my appreciation at the time, but in retrospect your shepherding had great impact on me: the way you spoke sincerely and tenderly about knowing Jesus taught me I could come to him exactly as I am. You showed me that I cannot out-sin God’s grace nor escape His loving arms, and that He will pursue me until I die. Thank you for taking a genuine interest in my schooling, golf, and relationships. May you feel known and loved this Thanksgiving.
, Samford University 2020 graduate
Youth pastors—thank you. Thank you for everything you have done for us and all the hours you have spent over the years. Thanks for coming early and staying late. For taking time to just talk to us and be silly with us. Thank you for seeing the kids no one else sees and for seeing potential in kids that others don’t see. Thanks for leading us well and pushing us to lead well too. Thanks for being in our corner, even beyond high school graduation. Thanks for being friends with us after we graduate—that means more than you know. Thanks for always being up to offer advice or just hang out. Thank you for always celebrating us and loving us. I wouldn’t be who I am without your leadership. So grateful for youth pastors like y’all.
Spencer Haynes, University of Virginia 2019 graduate
It wasn’t until college I fully grasped how impactful my youth minister had been. I was fortunate to grow up going to church and having Biblical principles instilled in me from a young age. That being said, having a great youth minister, and great youth staff as a whole, adds an entirely new dimension to a young person’s faith. Certainly, it helped that he and I shared many of the same interests, like basketball and rooting against LeBron James (only joking, he is perhaps the biggest LeBron supporter out there), but what stood out most of all was his passion for the Lord. His passion rubbed off on others. It was infectious. My youth minister also possessed an approachable demeanor that encouraged thoughtful exploration about the Lord and His Word. Moreover, I could count on him for anything (he even registered me for high school my senior year, although I’m still not over the fact he chose a bottom locker for me). If I needed prayer, he was there. If I needed godly wisdom or counsel, he was there to share and impart the right word. In this manner, my youth minister was not only fostering spiritual growth but emphasizing the importance of discipleship, just as Paul did for Timothy. In college, I gained a better appreciation for the foundation that he helped nurture, and I sure am thankful that I had someone like him who was devoted to building up young people in Christ. Thank you to all the youth pastors out there. Your work is tremendously valuable, and it does not go unnoticed!