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

Youth Pastor Boss Battles: Taming the Two-Headed Monster of Pastor and Committee

British-Greek automotive designer, Alec Issigoris, who designed the mini automobile once said that a camel is a horse designed by committee. He’s not lying. 

Hey youth pastor Paul Turner here from and I have been serving students for over 30 year and I want to help you build a successful youth ministry. 

Today, I want to answer a question from one of our subscribers, name is blocked out, well, because… this is the internet.

I have worked under both pastor and a committee and it was the worst experience I ever had, mostly because, by that time, I already had 20 years of experience and knew how to get things done, without a committee. 

Rogue agents like myself have managed to avoid churches with committees but for the viewer who asked this question and the rest of you suffering from ministry paralysis, let me offer 8 keys to managing this two headed monster of Pastor and Committee. 

Here’s how you could approach the question about serving two masters in a church setting:

Acknowledge the Challenge

Begin by expressing empathy for the situation. It’s common to feel caught between leadership structures, especially when the youth committee micromanages.

“But I’m the one needing empathy Paul!” you say.

I know, but if you want to change hearts and minds you will first need to put yourself into the shoes of those around you.

Focus on Shared Goals

Consider that the lead pastor/elders and the youth committee may or may not share the same objective – a thriving youth ministry. To find out the truth, create a vin diagram. In the circle on the left put your Pastor’s goals for the youth ministry. In the circle on the right put your committees goals for the youth ministry. In the center circle, put your goals for the youth ministry. Where is there agreement and disagreement within the three circles.

It’s possible that your pastor and the committee do not recognize that they disagree and, or when, you meet with either you can highlight the common goals but also the disparities in goals making it harder for you to please either side.

Open Communication is Key

You must be the instigator of lunches and coffee meetups. This is your way to uncover data about goals and expectations as well as a way for each of you to know each other. You can’t wait around until either your pastor or a committee member comes to you, you must play offense and diffuse any conflict that may be brewing. This make you look proactive instead of reactive.

In addition, if you are not sending out a weekly or monthly report on the student ministry, start one now. You can decide whether you CC the pastor or committee on each other e-mails but I would suggest you send the same report, separately, to each group this way you can see what each side is saying independently of each others and you can compare responses.

Clarity on Roles and Responsibilities

During these coffee meetings, take the role of student rather than teacher. Pull, don’t push.

Ask a lot of questions like,

“Knowing the conflict between our goals, what would you do?”

Take the notes to clearly define who you report to directly (pastor/elders) and how the youth committee can provide input (through proposals or discussions). Ask each party to confirm your

Vision Alignment:

Present your vision for youth ministry, emphasizing how it aligns with the church’s overall goals. Make the churches goals the fulcrum by which you leverage your programming.

First, make sure your calendar, I call it a playbook, is in line with the church’s goals and values/

Second, make sure your meetings/messages (I have a playbook for that as well) align with the church’s goals and values.

If there are questions about either of these, point to the vision and the values of the church. In doing this you will discover if either party has an issue with the vision, with you or is it a matter of personal taste.

Get buy-in from both parties on the desired outcomes.

Collaborative Approach

Frame the youth committee and the pastor as a supportive entities. I know it’s hard when you’re feeling squeezed by both sides and your paranoia is screaming, “They’re out to get me!!”. Your mindset is critical to controlling both your mental and emotional state.

If you see either the pastor or the committee as the enemy, a knee jerk reaction may be waiting in the wings. Learn to love feedback, not criticism. Take what either side says with a grain of salt and make changes as you can.

Welcome their feedback while maintaining your role as the one implementing the vision.

Focus on Outcomes

Regularly update both parties on the ministry’s progress and its impact on the youth. Like I said earlier, if you are not updating each group, regularly, you are making them operate in the dark and bad things happen in the dark. Shed a little light on what your doing,

  • through data like numbers of salvations, students in youth and small group, etc.
  • through pictures and video like events, testimonies, etc.
  • though the lens of the church’s vision by highlighting where you’re events, etc. are reaching each parties goals.

Be sure to bring up the stakes of indecision and conflict, it is the gospel and the effectiveness of the youth ministry in reaching and discipling teens that are at stake.

Remember, it’s a Balancing Act

Finding the right balance between autonomy and accountability takes time and patience. If you find that, after six months, you are still not satisfying each of the parties, it’s time to request a “come to Jesus” meeting where both parties sit down, compare notes and resolve the differences in expectations.

Before this meeting, make sure you have been persistent in building trust and open communication.

Things like conflicting goals are going to come up from time to time but you can, through open and consistent communication and proper planning, head off trouble before it begins.

Another way to head off trouble before it begins is my getting monthly coaching.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have an independent party you could

  • talk these issues through
  • vent to
  • plan with

on a monthly basis?

Don’t miss out on this kind coaching all for the cost of a monthly streaming service.

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