Mentoring In Youth Ministry

youth pastor and one of his students stacking chairs together after youth group

I had the pleasure of having a conversation with Brent Aiken on the Student Ministry Conversations podcast the other day (the episode releases in a few weeks). The conversation was around evaluating curriculum in the world of youth ministry. It was a really amazing conversation, and I’d highly recommend you to add their podcast to your rotation in general.

In that conversation, Brent and I both spoke a little bit on how curriculums don’t disciple your students. You do. In fact, curriculum can’t disciple your students. Not even G Shades. Only you can do that.

It’s led me to dwell on the importance of mentorship in youth ministry over the past few days. It’s something I think most of us inherently understand about this role—we get to mentor kids. It’s like…basically the whole thing. But I also know that youth ministry can sometimes be so heavy on sermon prep, budget balancing, meeting attendance, and event planning that sometimes we forget about the most important thing any of us can do in this job, and that’s step into an influential role in a kid’s life.

I mean, God is infinitely and intimately familiar with the burden of running a complex system. I’m sure balancing all things in the cosmos is even more difficult than balancing the not-nearly-large-enough budget the Board of Elders gave you this year. And yet despite the fact that God has plenty on His plate to manage and orchestrate, He makes Himself available to us. And better yet, He pursues us.

In the midst of complex system management, God still values simple relational mentoring.


He invites us to be with Him. He gives us insight into how He operates. He gives us chances to try His way out and shows us grace when we fall short. He’s invested in the (relatively speaking) unimportant details of our lives that feel very important to us. The God of the universe mentors us in Christ.

Can I just remind us as youth pastors to do the same for our students? To not forget that these kids are three-dimensional human beings with lives outside of church? Your sermons are so, so good…really. They’re the best. But your students need you to be interested in their world as much as you want them to be interested in yours.


Your students need your presence every bit as much as your preaching.

So I know camp season is coming. I know grade transitions are coming. I know you’ve got your own vacation lined up. And I know you’re about three weeks away from the deacon surprising you with yet another last minute “great serving opportunity for the teens/youths/young people!” Like, you’re busy. I get it. But if you stripped away all of the programming and set up systems to meet with students and talk about life and Jesus, it would be enough. Just as when God does away with the old things and all that’s left is to be in His presence for eternity, it will be enough.

Mentor your students. Maybe not even all of them. But at least one or two of them. And if your reason for not doing that is because you don’t have enough time, you should highly consider investing in a curriculum that simplifies ministry for you. I’m biased, but I think G Shades is your absolute best option. And, as timing would have it, we’re releasing Season 6 Thursday May 2!

Mike Haynes is a full-time youth pastor and the creator of G Shades Youth Ministry Curriculum. Feel free to reach out to Mike anytime over email at
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