Giving youth pastors the tools they need to make and shape disciples.

The Best Youth Pastor Job Search Tips for 2020

1 · 03 · 20

I am so thrilled to have my friend Brian Aaby today on the Youth Ministry in Motion Podcast. He haw worked with youth and youth workers for a long time from Youth Specialties to teaching and now with the Slingshot Group, helping youth pastors find their perfect place to serve.


If you are looking for a pathway to creating a youth ministry calendar that make sense, creates momentum and helps you build a successful youth ministry, check out the My Youth Ministry Playbook.

It’s more than a planner, it

  • asks the questions you need to be asking month by month
  • has articles that will inspire you,
  • has worksheets
  • a teaching calendar
  • has adult and student leader evaluation forms
  • and more

Ministry Minded Coaching starts January 14th and you can be a part of it for free, well at least for one night. If you’d like to see if coaching is for you, jump in on opening night and see what you can expect during this three month coaching season. Send me an e-mail to and let me know you’re interested.

Now, on with the interview with Brian Aaby,


The process of find the right job is critical but so many times young men and women jump at the chance to lean into their calling, only to discover that this was not the church they were looking for.


It’s so true but the people who get most lost in the process are the students, those juniors and senior who want a youth pastor who’s going to be around for a minimum of four years. I wish my job didn’t exist, if the church was doing a proper job of discipleship they might find their youth pastor right there in the midst of them rather than looking outside the church.


There are some people listening today who are in transition or want to be in transition, what are some of the trends going on in hiring?


The super hero youth pastor that every church wants is around 27-32. At 32 many churches believe that at 32 people are aging out, and part of my job is helping churches expand their profile because there are people who are 42 who still have the ability to be a youth pastor, they might take on more of a family pastor role but they can still relate to youth.

As far as trends, there is a consumerism on part of some churches, when they are looking to hire, when they reach out to an organization like slingshot, there is a tendency to treat people like products. I am trying to fight that trend.

As far as trends in candidate resumes, the Enneagram is big, DISC, etc.

I’m finding 22 year old candidates who just graduated from college with zero experience expecting to throw their name in the hat of a large church looking for a youth pastor. Candidates need to lower their expectations and build a more robust resume with a minimum of having at least done an internship.


Is young and trendy still the model churches are looking for?


What I am seeing and what is happening are likely tow different things. The church who has invested in the Slingshot process, that wants a 22 year old, we’re going to help them find the most mature 22 year we can find.

Yes the trend is still there and can say things like “spill the tea”. There are roles for the 22 year old but

  • it will probably not going to be in your prime denominational lane
  • it will not be in your prime size of church lane
  • it will probably not match the worship style you want
  • it will more than likely not match every point of your theology

Just because you served at a Baptist or Methodist church, does not mean you are 100% Baptist or Methodist. Candidates will have to broaden their horizons so they can build up the experience they need to be the 26/27 year old who can write their own ticket.

Don’t see the process as climbing a ladder but as a stepping stone.


It’s really about patience isn’t it? It’s not that 22 year olds don’t have skills. They can preach and play games, but it’s more about the emotional weight and pressure of a ministry of a church of 1,000.


Right, but 22 year old has not dealt with the angry board, the angry parent or the angry pastor. The 22 year old thinks everyone is against them. Not everyone is against you, just Bill and Nancy Smith are against you because you didn’t take care of little Joey. Those parents did not have the right perspective of the 22 year old and the 22 year old over reacted to the 42 year old which makes it worse.

This pales in comparison to the kid who comes and says “I’m being abused by my uncle”. The 27 year old can handle the pastor/parent dynamic better because they’ve gone through this before where a 22 year old hasn’t.

These residencies and internships do not always set up the student pastor for success. These student pastors have a production team of interns and if they transition out of that, that model may not exist in another context. You will probably will not wind up in a mega church but wind up in a church of 300 probably getting paid what you might pay one of your interns.


What are Pastors looking for concerning soft and hard skills?


Candidates need to have a video of them speaking to youth. Even if you are not looking you should have some videos of you speaking to youth. Candidates often have themselves speaking in “big church” but pastors want to see you speaking to students. They should be recording themselves anyway, just so they can improve their speaking chops.

Recording multiple videos gives you the opportunity to choose the best one to send out. Pastors want to know if you can communicate well and can you relate to youth.

Pastors are looking for a philosophy of youth ministry, that shows both outward faith and maturity faith. Do you lean more toward discipleship or to outreach? Most churches are in the middle. Having a philosophy behind how you reach new students or unchurched student and how you grow the believer are important.

You need to be able to share stories of how you led a kid to the Lord and here’s how I helped a kid, who is a believer take the next steps in their relationship with Jesus.

A degree is almost always a prerequisite. I ask, “What is the minimum level of education you want a person to have in order to be respected” a BA or BS is always the minimum.


A BA in Youth Ministry?


A BA, I call it a BA plus if it’s in youth ministry or Christian education. Having a masters degree or a desire to pursue it is bonus, but a degree is minimum. Having the practical and the philosophical is a critical combination.

You never know when the earthquake is coming. You never know when the economy is going to crash or when you get a call from your home town pastor to see if you’re interested in taking a role. Having your video and your philosophy ready is good planning.


Edit or no edit on the video?


No edit. Let it roll. Count your um’s, watch your arm movement, listen for voice inflection.


Do church’s look at your social media?


Before I even consider taking someone on, I look a their social media. If they have inappropriate gifs or memes, or hateful stuff, I’ll pass on them. They lack maturity.

You have to know a search committee will be looking at your social media. If you don’t feel your students should be reading such things you should not be posting them.

I maintain a neutral posture on social media, not because I’m not socially aware, it’s because I want a witness to lost souls and an encouragement to the believer.


Social is your brand. Is it ok to put your passions out there?


If you’re into the Mandalorian or a sports team and that just oozes out of you, go for it. If all you do is post on that it may make you look a bit freakish. Be aware that other people are looking at it. Also, someone who just posts scripture may come also come across freakish, in the sense that this person does not engage with the world around them. Balance is key.


Talk to me about Slingshot and what can Slingshot do for those who are listening. Who’s a good candidate?


Most people are right for Slingshot. The right type of candidate for a search isn’t the 21-23 year old, but you can still reach out to me. Some churches are looking for that age group.

We have peer coaching and networking so the 21-23 year olds could be a part of that and find speaking gigs, etc. We have some co-horts coming up that anyone who is looking or not could be a part of that.

To anyone who chooses to be part, just be prepared to work and hear some honest talk about how to move forward in your career


Big thanks to Brian Aaby for joining me for the podcast. You can follow Brian on or check out his blog at

Related Posts