1) Show up.
You don’t need to be there every week or at all the things, but if you ever show up to other activities that your kid participates in, then show up to some church youth ones too. Even if your kid doesn’t want you there, show up to a regular service and hang in the back. See what happens. Be present. Offer to chaperone and let the youth pastor know your work schedule and availability because it means you are serious and that you care. Allowing the youth pastor to know your name and face is huge and lets them know you support them and the ministry. Also, be tough and get your kid to youth events. That band practice or soccer practice or baseball tournament is important, but so is your kid’s faith in Jesus! If your kid commits to a being a professional tennis player and invests the time, you are likely going to do a lot of things to help make their dreams come true, especially if they are really good. You’re going to invest your own time to be present and pay money for good equipment and training special camps. Helping your child grow in their relationship with God should be no different. Your presence lets the youth pastor know you care.
2) Say it.
In many situations, the senior pastor get calls from folks complaining about this or that and youth pastors are not immune. Usually it’s done in passing, under someone’s breath or in a backhanded comment, or other times outside of their presence. Step in and stop others from getting negative about the youth pastor, youth ministry, or the youth. Talk with your youth pastor or ask questions to understand their vision for the ministry. Tell them how grateful you are for the hours they spend caring for your kid and all the others. Whether the church is large or small, a youth pastor can spend up to 10 hours a week during the busy season just in watching kids that are not their own children playing sports or performing in concerts or recitals. As your youth pastor attempts to keep up with the schedules of 10 or 100 kids, it can get easy to get worn out. When they attend one of your kid’s events, go talk to them. Use your words to encourage and thank.
3) Do something.
You may not have a schedule that matches, but there’s something you can do for the youth ministry. Let the youth pastor know your skills and do the thing. Maybe you see something that needs to be done. Talk to the youth pastor and go for it. Be determined to chaperone for something at least once a year. Volunteer to serve a meal, if they do that kind of thing. Find a task that the youth pastor doesn’t need to be doing and do it for them or get someone else to do it. That kind of help can go a long way. During the busy seasons of the youth ministry (just take a look at the calendar), drop off a home-cooked meal for your youth pastor to show you care (preferably not pizza).
4) Give a gift.
Christmas, birthdays, and the end of the year can be hard times for youth pastors. Some of them live far away from immediate family too. Christmas is busy for the life of the church, so even if the youth ministry doesn’t have much going on during the break, the youth pastor still may have obligations for the greater church body. To show you care, great gifts include gift cards or something personal. A gift card to a restaurant you know they’ll like or should try, a bookstore, Amazon, area movie theaters, or even a nearby grocery store would be wonderful. Homemade baked goods and food are nice but remember the holidays are already pretty heavy on this and youth pastors don’t always live on the best diets. Try to limit those special treats throughout the year. Giving a gift takes thought and effort and will be appreciated. Just as you might give a gift to your kid’s teacher, don’t forget the youth pastor who fights for your child’s soul!
5) Take a selfie.
Ok, so maybe not a selfie, but take the time to get to know the youth pastor on a personal level. As people, we all want to be known. For people in ministry, it is hard to get to know people in the congregation. Sometimes the ministry worker is held to a super holy standard or only seen as a person who provides a service. If you can approach them with pure motives and genuinely care, your youth pastor will appreciate an adult taking the time to find out who they are and what they care about. It matters. Caring for their spouse or children, if they have them, matters to them too.