How are you going to relate to your students when you get old(er)?  It was an innocent question asked by my wife, but it rocked me.  Being a youth pastor in a church where the average age is 31 can be tough especially when you add the fact that is also the area of the church where skinny jeansand deep v-neck t-shirts are often the mark for how relevant you are with youth.  I feel like God has called me to be a youth pastor long-term, so my wife’s innocent question shook me a bit.  How will I be relevant in 10-15 years?

I think it comes down to a few things.

  • Love God, Love Students.  Genuine love is always relevant.  Our love and passion for Jesus will always make us relevant.  (Mark 12:30-31).  Jesus also tells us that this is how others will know we are followers of Him.  Love one another. (John 13:34-35)
    • We can often cover up our insecurities as leaders by fitting in and becoming less mature by using the latest catch phrase in our teaching or being consumed by the latest pre-teen/teen movie or TV show.  Students see right through our efforts to fit in.  
  • It is important to know what is going on in their world.  We need to be able to relate to what is going on in their lives.  It is ok to know who Justin Bieber is…wow, I just said that.  We must be able to engage in conversations that are going on in their lives, not just ignore them, so we can equip and lead our students.  Don’t hesitate to ask questions, it shows you care. 
    • I think we just push it too often to be seen as cool and hip, and we are only fooling ourselves.  We need to keep our ability to be seen as someone who they strive to be like, not someone they are already like.  Students need maturity to look up to.  They don’t need to feel that this is the phase in life they will always be in; playing video games all hours of the day or waiting for the next Jonas Brothers album to come out. 


So how will I remain relevant in 15 years?  Love Jesus, love students, be myself, and show them I care enough about them to engage in their culture and world.  Loving others was relevant for Jesus, so chances are it is still relevant today.  Even if you are wearing socks with your sandals. (Ok, that’s pushing it.)

How’s this for relevant?  I just pwned this epic blog!  🙂


Josh Franklin is the Youth Pastor at Vine Community Church in Carbondale, IL.   Husband for 11 years, Father of 3, High School Social Studies Teacher for 10 years, Full Time Youth Pastor for 2+ years.