The JV Pastor

Junior varsity sports are typically painful to watch.  JV teams are often comprised of teenagers who haven’t yet mastered their particular sport.  That’s why they’re the early game, the one where only parents fill the stands to cheer on their precious angel.  Even in practice, the JV squad only rarely, if ever, gets the full attention of the head coach.  Rather, an assistant coach is given the primary coaching responsibilities.  When they advance to the varsity squad, that’s when they get priority during practice and recognition among the fans.

Sadly, that’s how many churches view the youth minister.  Let me say upfront that I’m a blessed one with a church that takes seriously the need for solid biblical teaching, and they hold me to it.  But too many churches are willing to hire anyone with a lot of energy that is willing to entertain their teenagers.  As long as you’re willing to plan a lot of fun events for a small amount of money, you’re hired.  After all, they’re the JV.  They’ll get real teaching when they become adults.

This must change.  It’s time for churches to take seriously the duty to teach their children the word of God.  It’s time for churches to force their youth ministers to focus more on preaching and teaching the word than they do on planning games and funny videos.

Until that happens, our churches have no right to bemoan the fact that many are leaving their ranks once they leave the youth group.  If your priority is fun and games and not on pointing students to the riches found in Christ (and giving them a vision for the entire church), of course they’re going to leave to pursue the fun that awaits them on their college campus.

Now a word for youth ministers: I’m not against games, pizza, or the like; I’m against letting these things or events be the engine that drives the ministry.

We are doing an injustice to the students and the churches by withholding the glorious truths that can only be found by digging deeply into the word of God.  Youth pastors, teach them the Word.

“But Cody, some of them will leave if we do that.”  Yes, you’re probably right.  But what good is it if you fill up a room with teenagers who don’t love to dig in the Scriptures?  You’re crippling them for life by not showing them the importance of the Bible.  Also, what’s more effective: training a large group of superficial Christians who don’t long for the “solid food” of the faith or training a smaller group of Christians who cherish the gospel?

We’re going to give account for the people God has entrusted to us (Heb. 13:17).  Are you going to stand before Him knowing that you gave them the Word or will you be standing there with an empty pizza box and tons of awesome game ideas?

5 thoughts on “The JV Pastor

  1. Thank you for this post. I couldn’t agree with you more! I did a lesson just last night – where our group looked at verse after verse on what we had to be thankful for as Christians (big surprise being week before Thanksgiving, huh?) and several of them afterwards said, “I liked that”. We dug into scripture – I’m not tooting my own horn, but point out that kids want to dig in – more than we think. I’ve had youth at past churches say that – “we want to hear the hard stuff, more than people think”. Thanks again for this!

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Brian. I’m glad to hear you’re showing your students a love for the word. Keep it up!

  2. Hey cody! long time no see…how are you?

    As a retired coach…now principal…let’s stick with the sports theme. Don’t you think it’s a fine line you’re talking about? how many varsity teams are successful because a good jv coach held interest high enough for the younger players to allow for maturation? my team is going to be better if i have 30 incoming freshmen rather than 10. that same 10 are going to be there anyway whether i am a good coach or not because they are easy to reach….the real challenge is reaching the average “athlete”….how many would i lose forever if i ran varsity level conditioning every day? Sure, young folks need to be taught the truth, but i’ve seen many run off way too early (in sports and church) because of over-zealous “coaches”….

    Have a great holiday!
    Coach d.

    1. Hey Coach, it’s great to hear from you. I’m doing very well.

      I do believe you’re correct that there needs to be a balance. I’m not against games or entertainment. But I also don’t believe holding interest equals less Bible teaching. Preachers and youth ministers should strive to make their sermons winsome, captivating, and appropriate for their audience. This can and should all be done while digging into the Scriptures.

      I’m sure you are right that some kids have been run off because of someone who didn’t hold a proper balance, but, speaking as a youth minister, I believe it is way more common for kids to be on the oppositie end of the spectrum; their youth ministry years are packed with lots of games and little Bible, and when they graduate, they leave because the fun and games are gone.

      Thanks for your input. I hope all is well with you.

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