1) Show up.
When you put the same value on youth gatherings (worship service, gatherings, activities, conferences, etc.) as you do your sports, band, or other extracurricular events, it shows your youth pastor you care. Any 2-hour event likely took hours of planning and preparation, often considering it months in advance. Also, just because the event is over, it isn’t over for your youth pastor. There is clean up, considering what went well and what didn’t, and maybe following up with some students or adult leaders. All of that effort for was done for you! So, show up. If you already show up to everything, then bring friends. For the youth pastor to see that you are willing to bring friends means a lot too.
2) Say it.
It’s way easier to complain about something when it doesn’t go well, while letting positive and encouraging words pass out of our minds. Often, when it’s not convenient, we generally forget. Write a note as soon as you get home. Send a text on your way home (if you aren’t driving). Make a call in the next day or so (you can even probably set an alarm for yourself so you don’t forget). Whatever you need to do, even if your youth pastor doesn’t absolutely beam with joy after receiving positive words or even seems awkward receiving them, know it still shows you care when you let your youth pastor know you appreciate an event or an act of kindness or just appreciate your youth pastor as a person (yes, youth pastors are people who exist outside of the role of youth pastor).
3) Do something.
Without being asked, help clean up after an event. Without being told, when you see people moving furniture around, lend a hand. If you aren’t sure what needs to be done, ask and be ready to jump in. Before help is needed, let your youth pastor know areas you are gifted in or the ways you like to serve so they know they can call on you if that’s needed.
4) Give a gift.
This is an obvious way to show you care. It doesn’t need to be big or cost much or any money, but a gift acknowledging your youth pastor can go a long way. Try to avoid crosses/angels or books or t-shirts because they probably have a stash of these, but think of something personal based on what you know about your youth pastor and give that. Gift cards are also a great option! Many youth pastors aren’t paid the same as the senior pastor, even if they have spent the time, energy, and money on their education. Your youth pastor may have a growing family. A gift card could be a special treat but it also might relieve a burden! I’m an adult now, but my youth pastor from high school has a small painting I made as a wedding gift hanging in her downstairs bathroom! It gives me joy every time I visit and see it because I know she has had it for almost 15 years!
5) Take a selfie.
Although taking selfies is about as common as brushing your teeth, it means something to your youth pastor that you would include them in your life in this way. Selfies are generally taken with friends, family, and celebrities. Taking a photo (selfie or not) with your youth pastor will show you care and you value them alongside the most important people in your life. We also take photos when we want to remember a certain place or moment. Taking a selfie with your youth pastor and posting it online shows the world they matter to you! But please make sure your youth pastor looks super awesome in it and if you think they will mind, ask them first. No one wants unflattering pictures posted all over the Internet so delete and take a new one to show you really care.