Having a DTR with Your Senior Pastor

By Doug Franklin September 7, 2021

I’m going to let you in on what may or may not be a church secret: most youth pastors and senior pastors don’t have a strong relationship.

Yes, they know each other and serve together, but it’s rare that they “get” each other. Coming from what could be described as opposite cultures, senior pastors and youth pastors tend to see the world differently. One respects time served; the other respects results. And neither can seem to earn the respect of the other.

If your working relationship with your senior pastor just isn’t working, it’s time to redefine the relationship. Here’s how:

1. Understand each other’s worlds

We’ve established that senior pastors and youth pastors tend to come from different worlds. Your senior pastor’s worldview tells him to value experience, while your worldview, as a youth pastor, likely drives you to value impact. These worlds are different, but they aren’t that hard to understand. When you’re tempted to devalue or criticize your senior pastor’s viewpoint, take steps to understand him, his experiences, and his heart.

2. Communicate more than numbers

When you meet your senior pastor in the hall, take the opportunity to communicate what’s really going on rather than playing the church numbers game. If your senior pastor asks, “How’s the youth ministry?” your response should be more than, “It’s going great. We had 25 kids at youth group this week.” Communicate your heart by sharing stories of transformed students, or voice your discouragement at a particular situation. When you opt for vulnerability, you demonstrate that you trust your senior pastor to care for you.

3. Do crazy stuff together

Be creative about building your relationship outside of church. Invite your pastor to go to a movie, or plan a game night or video game night at your house. Pick activities that you would do with your friends. The crazier the better! Hunt, fish, play golf, or take him to a restaurant that serves his favorite type of food. Nothing wins hearts and builds unity like shared experiences.

Tensions run high when there is a disconnect between you and your senior pastor, but you can close the gap when you understand his perspective, share your heart, and spend time together outside of church. Resist the urge to complain about your current working relationship. Redefine it.

Ready to take the first step? Grab your senior pastor, and go through the Disconnect together.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More