I’m of the age now that some of my childhood friends are reaching out about their teenage kids. While they have a thousand voices to get expert advice on every topic a parent will face, I tend to get the question about ministry-specific-preparedness.

It goes something like: My daughter went forward last summer at a conference and said she wants to be a youth pastor. She’s a senior. What should she do in terms of education? Or My son has been volunteering with the student ministry guy at our church, and now says he wants to be like him…who should we do?


First of all…if your kid is awesome, shows early signs of leadership, is an instigator, troublemaker, influencer, and could go do anything with their life…CONGRATS! Yes, that’s who we need in ministry, let’s do this!

I tend to blog the conversations I have over and over. And this is one of those conversations. I know parents have an ocean of information they are digging through with their high school students. I know this because we’ve had two successfully navigate high school, college, and real-world #adulting on their own, and we’ve lived to tell about it.

Here are five things (and there are probably 137) to keep in mind if your high school kid really is wanting to prepare for ministry. By “ministry” I mean fully employed vocationally at a local church someday. I don’t mean: being light in the dark, business as mission, blooming where you are planted, or even non-profit leadership. I’m talking about being compensated someday to be on staff at a local church in a role other than Senior Pastor. 

I tend to say these four things over and over:

1. Start with the end in mind.
Which is the goal: diploma or employment at a local church? There’s a huge difference. (If the goal is diploma, you don’t need to read the rest of this…)

2. The college choice means less than you think.
Christian College, State University, Seminary, or other…or even none?

3. How they use these next four years means everything.
We need wise people in ministry like never before (and it helps if they’re smart, too!)

4. They must do 2 intense years at a dynamic, growing, reach-oriented church.
The final, most important, ingredient if your answer to #1 is employment.

Now, before you shoot me an email about how there are more important things than these five (like loving Jesus, reading the Bible, character, serving the least of these and 47 other things) I say to you I totally agree. I’m simply speaking into the topics that land at my feet. There are way smarter people than I to help your student navigate those other 47 things.

My life mission is to help those who want to do this go out and do this with their life. I’m always trying to find the best/next steps for those who want to pursue it. One path does not fit all, but there are patterns and best practices and steps that will greatly enhance ones' potential to navigate successfully vs. being taken out early on the path.

Over the next few posts, I’ll blow out each of these topics. In the next post, we’ll discover how students need at least to try to start with the end in mind.