Justin Pickard, USA/Canada Regional Youth Coordinator
What motivates you to work with youth?
I just like youth! Lots of people love them, but I actually like them. Maybe we are on a similar level. Besides the fact that I just enjoy being with youth is the calling I believe is on my life to serve God by investing in the lives of youth.
How many years have you been in youth ministry?
What is the best book you have read relating to youth ministry?
The Godbearing Life, by Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster.
What’s the best advice you can give a youth leader?
Two things: It’s all about relationships, longevity/consistency, and prayer, but if you don’t give some attention to details, administration, engaging parents, finding systems to augment your weaknesses, you will not stick around long enough to make a difference through relationships. And take God and youth seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.
What’s the best advice you can give to parents of youth?
A lot of life and discipleship is more caught than taught. You never know when a teaching moment will strike so always be prepared and watching for opportunities to show and tell your faith by your response to life, adversity, and even the regular, run-of-the-mill, average days that make up the vast majority of our existence. But when you swing and miss or totally blow it with your kid, simply apologize and move on. Youth aren’t looking for perfect parents (they know they don’t exist), but they are longing for authentic parents who will walk alongside them through the good and the bad, consistently re-orienting them toward Christ by their own example.
What would you like the church to know about today’s youth?
Today’s youth are bright, bold, and ready to take action in fleshing out their faith. They desire to be participants — not merely spectators — in the church and the world. To some in the pews, this is a scary idea as it is could mean risking the present and future of the church on some immature, unproven, and unqualified youngsters. Sounds like the same story of a handful of disciples Jesus called to follow him and change the world.