How many hours a week should a youth pastor spend with teens? (w/ free book giveaway!)

What is the rule of thumb for you in your ministry?  What do you shoot for each week?

Last week I share a few of my personal opinions and they have generated quite a bit of response online and with some youth workers at a training event this past weekend.  I discussed how the platform discussion, the “sage on a stage” model, has leaked into youth ministry circles and changed the paradigm for youth work from a coaching model where adult leaders lead from the middle of youth.  Then I discussed how the platform drive (to be known by other youth workers) takes up so much energy and focus that we can end up spending more time (and more dreaming) on that than we care to admit.

At the end of the second post, I made the statement that my rule of thumb as a youth pastor was that I wanted to spend at least 20 hours of my week with teens.  I was blessed to be at a church where I only had to be in the office for whatever I needed to be successful in youth work.  So, that looked like Monday, a few hours on Tuesday, Wednesday, and then Friday morning. Thursday was my day off.  Tuesday and Friday were essentially “second shift” days to connect with teens from 3 p.m. on. Our youth group met on Wednesday nights and small groups happened on Sunday nights.  Volunteer training took place on Sundays or Wednesdays before/after the large group gatherings.

So, I thought I’d conduct a basic survey to see what’s happening among youth workers who read this blog.  I invite you to post a quick comment to these questions: 

  1. How many hours a week are you expected to be in the office?
  2. How many hours a week do you spend investing in/mentoring other adults (volunteers)?
  3. How has your teens’ busy schedules inhibited your ability to spend time with them?
  4. If you could spend X hours a week with teens, what would it be?

AND, I WILL RANDOMLY SELECT ONE OF THE COMMENTS AND THAT PERSON WILL WIN ONE OF MY PAPERBACK BOOKS (OF THEIR CHOOSING).  So, you can pick from What Can We Do?: Practical Ways Your Youth Ministry Can Have a Global Conscience, Evangelism Remixed: Empowering Students for Courageous and Contagious Faith, or Middle School Talksheets: 50 Ready-to-Use Discussions on the Life of Christ (or the high school version).

I will announce the winner on Thursday, February 28th.





  • Aaron Helman

    1. There’s no spoken expectation, but to fulfill my admin tasks, I need 20 hours most weeks.
    2. 5-7
    3. Not really.
    4. 15-20

  • Miah Collins

    1. Our only “expectation” is to be OUT of the office as much as possible. I hope that’s at least 15 hours. In the summer it’s more like 25.
    2. I average about 1 hour per week.
    3. That’s effects us quite a bit in our community.
    4. 30 hours a week with students and 10-15 office hours would be ideal for me.

  • Casey Hasselkus

    Through the lens of some summer staff positions I’ve had:
    1. 25-30 hours IN the office, but to have as much of that OUTSIDE the office with students, or even working on office-related things out in the community (aka: coffee shops).

    2. 5

    3. Having to be really flexible with work “hours” and being creative with how time is being spent with them. For example, going to them during sports practice lunch breaks, etc.

    4. On average, whatever the work week hours are, 60% with teens, 40% in the office/meetings/planning. (50 hour week: 30 with students)

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