The goal of “Welcome to Student Ministry” is to post interviews that help guide both new and experienced student pastors toward faithful ministry over many years. This first interview is with Scott Huff.
1. Tell our readers some background information about how long you have been in student ministry, how you started, and anything else that you think would be useful.
I have been in student ministry for 15 years as a student pastor at 3 churches and a speaker at many camps & retreats. I am currently the student pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, KY. I got my start in student ministry in college by volunteering in my church’s student ministry. I felt God’s call on my life of being in full time ministry as a sophomore in college and I immediately knew He wanted me to work with teens. My teenage years were up and down in regards to my faith, friends, and culture. I had a heart for teens to come to know Christ and to see them grow in their faith. So, I jumped in! I became even more involved in student ministry as a volunteer and then as an intern while in college and during seminary. I have loved every minute of the journey!
2. How has your view of youth ministry changed from when you started to now?
When I started youth ministry it was more about the shock and awe factor to gain interest of lost teens. How big could you go for an event or how many bells and whistles could you throw in to be able to entice a teen with no interest Jesus to your gathering. Now, it has swung another direction where it’s even more about relationships than before and teens prefer comfortable and relational environments more than the high energy, in your face big events than they used to. It’s always been about relationships but the context in which those relationships thrive is what changes with each group of students.
3. Share one of your favorite student ministry moments.
I had an 8th grade student introduce me to one of her friends after her basketball game. This young lady and her family were not churched. My student had been inviting her to our youth group but she had never come. While meeting her, I invited her to attend as well. Through the two of us inviting this young lady she began to come, hesitantly. But she soon loved it, met people, and got plugged in by attending regularly. Eventually, through hearing the Gospel each week, she became a Christian. I baptized her and she began to bring her brother, mom, and her mom’s live-in boyfriend on Sundays. They heard the Gospel, and soon after, her mom and brother both became Christians and were baptized. The boyfriend took awhile. He was an intelligent man who had no church background but a lot of questions. He began to meet with me and ask questions. He continued to attend and show support for his girlfriend and her kids. Eventually it clicked. He was confronted with his sin and the need for a Savior who He knew was Jesus. He became a Christian and I baptized him. This story is my favorite in student ministry because it all began with an 8th grade girl wanting to see her lost friend meet Jesus. The chain reaction began and an entire family became Christians, went public with their faith in baptism, and now all serve in the church regularly.
4. Share one of your least favorite ministry moments.
I had a student pull a knife on a kid on church property but not at a youth gathering. The parents and I worked together to make sure the student could continue to be involved in our ministry because that is where he needed to be. The parents began to tell lies of me “kicking their son” out of youth group, which was the exact opposite of what happened, and they even rallied a small mob to seek my resignation. Through the support of our staff and the majority of our other youth families I made it through the vicious attack on my character and calling. I learned you’ll always have people against you as well as people on your side. Those who are against you is usually because of things you can’t control and probably have nothing to even do with you.
5. What resources do you find helpful to use in student ministry?
I use Download Youth Ministry for great digital resources like games and administrative stuff. I also love blogs like the ones from CPYU, Carey Nieuwhof, and Fuller Youth Institute.
6. What is one of two things that you do to make sure that you do so that you don’t burn out as a youth pastor?
I take a regular day or two off every week. I relax and unwind by going to a movie or playing golf. I do something fun with my kids and I don’t check my emails or work on that day. I also recommend going to a conference or a few each year. You’ll gain valuable info but more importantly you’ll meet others who are going through the same things you are and be able to get away from the daily grind at your church. I often find that both my day off and my time at a conference are my most creative moments.
7. What advice would you give to yourself when you started as a youth pastor if you could go back to that time?
Never stop learning. Lead your ministry as if you were leaving it the next day because it should not be dependent on you being the one. You don’t always have to be the speaker or the one who attends the football games. You should always be recruiting and training new leaders. Share the load of ministry with those leaders. A ministry that’s carried out by a team is much more effective than a ministry carried out by one person.
Thank you, Scott, for taking time to answer these questions. Two weeks from today I will post our second edition of “Welcome to Student Ministry” with a student pastor from Pennsylvania!