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 fifth interview in this series is with Evan Knies. Evan serves as the student pastor at Bullitt Lick Baptist Church.
- 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 since 2011. I first served at a church in Louisiana. I was heavily involved with the football program at the local high school and we would bus guys in on Wednesday nights. We had a few in the church support that ministry, and they were a great help. But there were some changes going on at that church so my wife and I got married and headed to Louisville. After being in Louisville for a year, I worked for someone that told me they had an opening at Bullitt Lick in Shepherdsville. The context in Shepherdsville is very different from the one I served at in Louisiana. But we have seen fruit from both ministries, and I am very grateful to be where we are currently serving. I do not think I will be in this form of student ministry the rest of my life, but I felt the desire to be in student ministry because I saw so many of peers in high school leave the faith. I also saw many student ministries try to pursue this event driven model rather than focusing on building relationships with students and being rooted in the Word.
- How has your view of youth ministry changed from when you started to now?
Since I started we have tried to have a family based ministry and heavily relational ministry so I do not think we have changed much in our approach with students. Some of my preaching has definitely changed over the years, not that my exposition of the text would change, but how I deliver and apply it. Over the years, the aspect of student ministry that has changed drastically is the students access to technology and what the students can view in just seconds. This has also affected how students treat one another in person and the entitlement attitude that some have.
- Share one of your favorite student ministry moments.
One of my favorite memories was discipling a young man named Kalvin. He came to faith in Jesus and was baptized at the church I served at in LA.
With my group in KY, I do not have one particular favorite ministry moment. I am blessed to have many. From the times our group comes over to our house, to students texting me and telling me that they are thankful for what we are doing and understand why we are doing it, to counseling students through brokenness, etc.
- Share one of your least favorite ministry moments
Seeing students that you have invested countless hours in walk away from what they have previously confessed. I do not know of anything more depressing for a pastor than to see some fall astray and show that they were not even in the faith.
- What resources do you find helpful to use in student ministry?
I have found biographies very helpful. Stories of faithful men and women who have gone before us can be deeply encouraging in whatever season of ministry one is going through. Currently, I am reading through the Diary and Journal of David Brainerd. He was faithful in his proclamation of the gospel. He had good days and bad days. This can be encouraging for readers in our good days and bad days.
I have also found the 9marks books on ministry applicable as well. There are many books on student ministry and they focus on external pragmatic things. First and foremost, student pastors are preachers of the gospel! We should be reading more books that cause our hearts to reflect on the good news and not about planning the best event to get the most numbers. I have read many of those books in ministry and I have found them to be depressing. We should be caring about the souls that God has entrusted to us in our ministries.
- 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?
Honestly, this is a tough question because this season of ministry has been tough. But I have to stay in the Word on a daily basis and be renewed in the Gospel. I love spending time with family as well, reading other books, and longboarding.
- What advice would you give to yourself when you started as a youth pastor if you could go back to that time?
Do not try to be everything and do everything. Be faithful to Christ and steward the gospel well. Do not die on the non-essential hills. Only what is done for Christ will last.
Thank you, Evan, for taking time to answer these questions. In two weeks I will post our sixth edition of “Welcome to Student Ministry” with a twenty year student ministry veteran!