3 Reasons Student Pastors Make Great Senior Pastors
If you can hold the attention of a teenager, you can hold anyone’s attention.
When leaders or search teams have asked me if a student ministry pastor can transition to a senior pastor role, I always respond with, “Absolutely.”
My response is predicated on the understanding that the person is already a qualified pastor (1 Timothy 3) and that pastoring in student ministry is not a mere stepping stone to being a “real pastor.” Student pastors are real pastors. My response is not to diminish the challenges of the transition or to lower the expectations of the senior pastor role but to highlight the transferrable parts of being an effective student pastor with being an effective senior pastor. And a lot transfers. Much carries over.
CommunicationStudent pastors are already in a regular rhythm of communication, of preparing messages, and of teaching and preaching the Scripture. They not only organize the student ministry, but they regularly stand in front of teenagers to preach and teach. Some of our generation’s most effective preachers began their ministries preaching to teenagers. Practically, if you can hold the attention of a teenager, you can hold anyone’s attention, so student ministry makes you a better communicator. The teaching rhythm of a senior pastor is relentless. Sundays keep coming at a steady pace. And student ministry leaders have experience in that rhythm.
IncarnationStudent ministry is highly relational. Student ministry forces leaders to learn how students think, the challenges they are facing, and their fears and struggles. Effective student ministry leaders love students, step into their worlda and think missionally about how to engage surrounding campuses with the gospel. Effective student pastors learn about and love students, and the discipline of accessing the culture and loving people in it is highly transferrable to the senior pastor role. A senior pastor who was once a student pastor is likely a relationally driven senior pastor, someone who loves people well.
AdministrationBy administration, I don’t mean being excellent in details or overly operational. I am referring to leading a ministry through other people. Effective student pastors don’t attempt to shepherd all the students alone; they build a community of adult leaders who shepherd students. They view their leaders as a volunteer army to serve the students. In other words, because student ministry requires an army of leaders, student pastors learn leadership. Thus, an effective student ministry pastor is a proven leader of leaders, and this transfers immediately to being a senior pastor.
So can this person, who is currently a student pastor, really be an option for our senior pastor position? Absolutely.
Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Prior to LifeWay, Eric served local churches, most recently investing eight years as the executive pastor of Christ Fellowship Miami. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball. More from Eric Geiger or visit Eric at http://ericgeiger.com/