I was very blessed in my life with awesome youth ministry role models. Growing up in church my parents were the volunteer leaders in our youth group and our senior pastor was our study leader. Growing up as the son of two very awesome volunteer youth group leaders is hard. There are things you want to tell someone. but you certainly don’t want to tell your parents. But you need someone of maturity to speak into your life.
That person for me was our senior pastor, Dr. Roger Peadro. Roger was the person who I went to with my problems the most often. I cannot count the times we would either skateboard around the neighborhood around the parsonage and drop by. Or the amount of times we played basketball in the parsonage driveway.
My parents, Don and Ruth Patterson, were also youth ministry heros. They always had time to hang out with the students after church. They always brought in the best snacks for youth group. To this day, any time I eat Chewy Chips Ahoy cookies and Sour Gummy Worms, I think youth group. Thanks to Roger and my parents, I learned two very valuable lessons in youth ministry.
The Power of Presence
Roger taught me the power of presence. Sadly. I cannot remember a single lesson he taught or one single illustration he used. The one thing I do remember is he was always there. Anytime we wanted to shoot ball or hangout, he was there. When we needed prayer, he was there. When we went to an event, he was there. The power of presence in youth ministry cannot be denied. When you are there for your students that is what pays dividends. When students know you care, that’s when real ministry happens.
Roger is still doing ministry today. He is the senior pastor at First Christian Church, Ft. Walton Beach, FL. Which is a far cry from Western Kentucky, but I know that church is blessed to have him.
The Power of Longevity
My parents taught me the power of longevity. My parents were in their 50s when I was in youth group, yet they hung in there with us. We often think youth ministry is a young man/woman’s game, but youth ministry essentially boils down to this mantra: “Love God and Love Students.” My parents epitomized this. They weren’t the coolest parents in town. My dad had had multiple heart attacks by this point, so they weren’t the most athletic and active. But they loved God and loved our students, and they stuck with it. When I look at my youth ministry future, it’s my prayer that I can continue to do youth ministry into my 50s and beyond.
I certainly wouldn’t be in ministry at all, much less youth ministry, without these people. My father (who is now in his 70s) and I talk youth ministry when I’m over at his house. I told him he should get back in the game because he’s still got it. He argues that his ideas aren’t new and current. I chuckle because everything I do, I stole from him! Here’s to being present for a long time!
Who are your youth ministry heroes?