Why Youth Pastors Need to Be Theologians

I'm in my fourteenth year at Northridge, I've served with three youth pastors. Youth pastors can be and need to be a lot of things, but in my view, they must be theologically minded. That isn't an option. I'm so thankful for Dave Boehm, Mark Nelson, and Aaron Hixson who have all had impact on my daughters and I trust them fully theologically. (By the way – although Aaron is their current youth pastor, both of the other two guys are still on our staff – just in different roles.)

Thinking theologically is one of the last things most people think they need in a youth pastor, but really need to have.

Our new youth pastor loves to read and think theologically. When we have a difficult theological issue to work through, I make sure Aaron is in the room to work it through with us.

Most of our church doesn't worry about our youth pastor's theology (or any of the staff positions), but it is very important to us.

Here is a video talking about this topic and some of its implications. Although the part of youth pastors being theologians is one minor point. This video is good for every Christ-follower to watch. Frankly, every Christ-follower needs to think biblically, but I went with the title of the video. (Warning: it is almost 10-minutes long, which is eternally long for a video posted on a blog in our culture, but I hope many of you watch it.)


If you can't see the video – click HERE or on the title above to see it. 

  1. I think it is important that teens (and the church) be aware that their leaders have confronted church history and the canon with intellectual rigor, however 2000 years is a drop in the 4 billion year bucket — I think that is a question that distracts many (whether they articulate it or not)

  2. That’s a good point Steve. A large Barna study of 18-29 year olds who had been regular churchgoers growing up but left the church after age 15 was compiled in 2011. The study found that 29% believed “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in” and 25% believed that “Christianity is anti-science.” 23% said they had “been turned off by the creation-versus-evolution debate.” These weren’t the only issues that caused young people to disconnect from church, but it does seem to be a significant contributing factor.

    This is definitely something that youth pastors and other church leaders will need to be able to address and not ignore, along with issues of sexuality, the history/compilation of the Biblical canon, and the others mentioned in the clip.

    Link to an article about the 2011 study:


  3. Consider the role science now plays in education. Scientific “facts” are taught at a very early age and in the very same manner in which religious “facts” were taught only a century ago. There is no attempt to waken the critical abilities of the pupil so that he may be able to see things in perspective. At the universities the situation is even worse, for indoctrination is here carried out in a much more systematic manner. Criticism is not entirely absent. Society, for example, and its institutions, are criticized most severely and often most unfairly and this already at the elementary school level. But science is excepted from the criticism. In society at large the judgment of the scientist is received with the same reverence as the judgment of bishops and cardinals was accepted not too long ago. The move towards “demythologization,” for example, is largely motivated by the wish to avoid any clash between Christianity and scientific ideas. If such a clash occurs, then science is certainly right and Christianity wrong. Pursue this investigation further and you will see that science has now become as oppressive as the ideologies it had once to fight. Do not be misled by the fact that today hardly anyone gets killed for joining a scientific heresy. This has nothing to do with science. It has something to do with the general quality of our civilization. Heretics in science are still made to suffer from the most severe sanctions this relatively tolerant civilization has to offer. ~ Paul Feyerabend

    The worldview of scientific naturalism preserves a place for religious beliefs: a place, that is, among the things to be explained by science. The Christian religion thus enters the university with a status precisely equal to that of other comparable religious systems — say, the Aztec system of human sacrifice. Any individual, even a person of eminence in science, can make a personal choice to “be religious.” Such choices are made on the basis of “faith,” meaning subjective preference. A problem arises only if the Aztecs or the Christians claim access to knowledge. If they do that, they are claiming that their own beliefs are normative for unbelievers. Only scientists can claim that kind of authority, because what is endorsed by the scientific community constitutes knowledge, not belief. That is why Darwinian evolution can be taught in the schools as fact, however strongly parents or students object, whereas a simple prayer acknowledging God as our Creator is deemed unacceptable — because somebody might object. ~ Phillip Johnson

    It was obvious that both the general theory of evolution and its extension to man in particular must meet from the first with the most determined resistance on the part of the Churches. Both were in flagrant contradiction to the Mosaic story of creation, and other Biblical dogmas that were involved in it, and are still taught in our elementary schools. It is creditable to the shrewdness of the theologians and their associates, the metaphysicians, that they at once rejected Darwinism, and made a particularly energetic resistance in their writings to its chief consequence, the descent of man from ape. ~ Ernst Haeckel

    Our science of evolution won its greatest triumph when, at the beginning of the twentieth century, its most powerful opponents, the Churches, became reconciled to it , and endeavored to bring their dogmas into line with it. ~ Ernst Haeckel




    I suspect Barna’s data is accurate, however we are miles apart on interpretation.

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