By Maina Mwaura
I can still remember leaving my office at Greenforest Community Church for the last time as their student pastor. It seemed like yesterday that started the journey into the student ministry world with eagerness and excitement.
I began student ministry being mentored by the best, with the intention to never leave the world of student ministry.
Not long after I got to my next church as a campus pastor, I can remember wanting to call the leaders at Greenforest to apologize for my mistakes in student ministry.
Now that five years have gone by since I was a student pastor, I’ve identified four regrets about that season of ministry.
1. Not having a broader view of my calling.
I would stop stamping a narrow label on my calling. My calling wasn’t just to students but to serving the entire body of Christ. As a minister of the gospel, I’ve been called to serve the local church, period.
For student ministers to be successful, they must remember Who called them and that serving in student ministry is an extension of serving the local body of Christ.
2. Not integrating the student ministry into the life of the whole church.
I’m embarrassed to admit that early in my student ministry I believed student ministry was the most important ministry in the church and the rest of the church ministries could learn a lot from what we had to offer.
That arrogance only grew when the church where I was serving at built our student ministry building. I remember thinking to myself, Now we don’t have to even be around the rest of the church body.
Looking back, I can see this attitude for what it was: pride. No doubt, the needs of students are different and there are times that students need space and time to be with each other.
However, I now understand that student ministry works best when as a local body of Christ were doing life and ministry together.
3. Not building deeper relationships with other members of the church staff.
Although I never did anything overt to disrespect the pastors I had the privilege to work with, looking back I could have built better relationships with them.
I should have considered the pressure they were under to lead the entire church. When I assumed a campus pastor position, I can remember unpacking my boxes, thinking about how the weight of the entire church was on my shoulders—although I knew Jesus was the one leading the church.
Being a senior pastor is a hard calling in ministry. I can still remember contacting two of my former pastors and apologizing for never putting myself in their shoes.
4. Not strongly engaging parents into the rhythms of the student ministry.
Let me first begin by saying that for most of my student ministry days, I was single and deeply respected parents. Now, as a parent, I have come to realize parents can’t just be an extension of student ministry—they need to be involved in the ministry in every way.
Looking back, I wish I had included parents more. I can still remember when I did include them, parents would ask how they could do more.
The myth that a lot of student pastors buy into is that students don’t want to be around their parents. Students want to know if their parents care about what’s going in their world.
After five years of being out of full-time student ministry, I have recently jumped back into the student ministry world as an interim student pastor at a local church in my town.
God has been teaching me that He is the one who makes all things new, so my prayer is to hand over a student ministry to the incoming student pastor that is God-centered and healthy—one where I’ve incorporated these four actions.
MAINA MWAURA is a freelance journalist and minister who lives in the Atlanta area with his wife, Tiffiney, and daughter Zyan.