“What’s it like having your own children in your youth ministry?”
It’s a question we’ve been asked frequently. The answer is: Challenging and Awesome!
Most youth workers get into youth ministry either before they have kids, or when their kids are small. Stay in it long enough, though, and you get to experience the challenges and joys of having your own kids in your youth ministry. Mathew has four kids — two in college and two in high school. His time is running out. Steve has three kids, all of whom came through the ranks of his youth ministry and are now young adults. We’ll both tell you, there’s nothing better than having your own kids in your youth ministry.
Not that it’s always easy. There were times when our kids felt the weight of expectations from others in the church, expectations which were unfair and unrealistic. And our kids were far from perfect. Mathew had to wrestle his oldest onto the middle school camp bus in front of a busload of living people (and a cemetery full of dead ones). Steve had to save his two oldest sons from beating the crap out of each other one night at youth group. (Imagine! Fighting over a girl!). Or imagine his surprise when he found out the kid who almost got his group kicked out of camp was his own son? (Actually, he wasn’t surprised at all). But those incidents don’t even begin to outweigh the tremendous blessings we experienced–and the memories etched on our hearts–during our years doubling as dad and youth pastor. We won a front row seat to the best show on earth–our own kids spiritual and leadership awakening. Plus we got to plan the whole youth ministry calendar around our family schedule for 12 years!
No, we wouldn’t have traded it for anything. Honestly, we’re not dealing real well with the end of it. That’s why there may or may not be a few tears seeping through the mic if you listen closely.
Stories, mistakes, and wisdom for you as you start this journey, here in Episode 30 — Your Own Kids!
Shameless Plug: Here’s the Spotify playlist for Steve’s sons, Jonathan and Thomas.