Reggie Joiner is a great leader, whom I’ve really enjoyed learning from over the years. While I usually hear him talk about bigger vision topics, this was one of the first times I’ve heard him explain a specific leadership move. During one of his workshops at Youth Ministry Exchange, he talked about redefining our role as a youth pastor. Specifically, he instructed the importance of re-writing our job descriptions.

Here are my notes from his breakout:

There are 2 things we need to own as youth pastors:

  • Own your own inspiration. 
  • Own your own identity. 

Why we need to re-write our own job description:

  • Maybe someone else wrote it that’s not there anymore, maybe it’s really old, or maybe you don’t even have one right now.
  • If you don’t own your own identity, you’re setting yourself up for what might be an identity crisis, because everyone else has a picture of what they think you should do.
  • It will affect how you recruit, budget, hire, evaluate success, etc.

4 steps to re-writing our job description:

  1. Re-write a one-sentence job description.
    • When people ask, you can explain it under a minute.
    • You want to see if your sentence matches your bosses one sentence for you.
    • You need to know what is expected of you, and you have the power to morph and control what that is.
    • It works as a compass and clarifies expectations.
    • Example: My job is to create experiences and community where leaders, volunteers, and parents can influence teenagers to develop a dynamic faith.
  2. Re-write the primary priorities that will help you accomplish your job.
    • When people ask, you can explain it under 5 minutes.
    • Examples of 5 priorities based on our talks with youth workers around the country:
      • Align leaders
      • Refine the message
      • Elevate community
      • Engage every parent
      • Influence service
    • Parents, volunteers, staff, and teenagers are found in each of these priorities.
    • These should be the same priorities for others.
  3. Re-write a clear description for each priority.
    • We need clarity around each of those priorities.
    • Examples: 
      • Align leaders: Align leaders to work together around a common strategy, values, and language.
      • Refine the message: Design a messaging strategy that communicates strategic truths to teenagers.
      • Elevate community: Recruit and develop volunteers to lead teenagers in weekly small groups.
      • Engage every parent: Engage every parent and guardian to partner with your ministry.
      • Influence service: Influence students to participate in consistent ministry opportunities.
  4. Re-write the key activities you should do to accomplish each priority.
    • If you don’t finish here, you will have a job description without any measurables.
    • Examples (from 2 of those priorities):
      • Align leaders:
        • Champion vision and values of youth ministry throughout the church.
        • Facilitate effective meetings to collaborate with key leaders in your organization.
        • Manage budget and resources needed to make youth ministry successful.
      • Elevate community:
        • Implement a system to recruit and train small group leaders.
        • Manage group structure to connect teenagers relationally with peers and leaders.
        • Leverage digital strategies to enhance learning and relationships.

How to be a good youth pastor (3 principles of leadership):

  • Be a generalist and a specialist.
    • Generalist for all ages.
    • Specialist with teenagers.
  • Recruit to your weakness.
    • Do what you are great at doing.
    • Recruit for the parts you’re not best at doing.
  • Keep clarifying the win.
    • These 5 priorities/categories become 5 gauges.
    • If you can’t measure the win in some of those categories, you really can’t manage your ministry.

When you re-write our job description in this way…

  • You’ll have an elevator pitch.
  • You’ll have a lunch presentation.
  • You’ll have something for weekly meetings.
  • You’ll have a basis for your annual review.

You can find a great handout to help you re-write your job description at

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