For some time now, youth ministry in our churches has needed a makeover. Many have been concerned that the average American evangelical youth ministry is high on entertainment, low on biblical/theological instruction, and tends to separate youth into their own sub-culture apart from their families and the rest of the church.
Now certainly this isn’t true of every youth ministry (or youth pastor). There are many solid, faithful, biblical youth pastors who just want to love teenagers and lead them to follow Christ.
Even so, Reformed theology has not seemed to penetrate the world of youth ministry as it has college ministry and general adult ministry.
For this reason, I am thankful for Wes Andrews (class of 2012) who is the next installment in our Where Are They Now? alumni series. Wes is a youth pastor who has allowed Reformed theology to inform all aspects of his ministry to youth. It is exciting to see how God is using him to reach youth and families without all the gimmicks our culture typically expects.
1. What are you currently doing?
I am on the pastoral staff at Uptown Church in Charlotte, NC. The main focus of my ministry is Youth and their families.
2. Why did you originally come to RTS Charlotte?
I came to RTS more as a result of relational connections and proximity to South Carolina. You could say I sort of stumbled into something great not realizing how much I needed what RTS provides by way of theology and teaching. Looking back, I can see the Lord graciously guiding me to a seminary that would prepare me for ministry and grow my love for the church.
3. Is there one thing that you learned at RTS that has come back to you as you have ministered to others? A phrase, encouragement or advice?
The sufficiency of scripture. There is a natural tendency in youth ministry to chase the latest and greatest ideas and trends. I am always surprised at how clear and precisely God’s Word speaks to and pierces every generation in any circumstance. No need for smoke and lights, what students need most is the pure and powerful Word of God.
4. What do you enjoy most about your current ministry?
I love spending time with students, but even more so, challenging fathers to engage their kids. Part of my role is affirming and assisting the parent role in the life of students. Seeing fathers and mothers lead their struggling teenagers is pretty enjoyable to witness.
5. What has been a struggle in your ministry?
I have to fight the urge to try and do everything myself for my own glory. Ephesians 4:12 says we are to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. Whether it is pride, laziness, fear or all of the above, there have been times that I have failed to train up others to minister among students and families. It has only hindered the ministry.
6. If you could give any encouragement to a current student in seminary, what would it be?
1) Don’t believe the lie that you are the only one that is having a hard time in seminary. There can be pressure from every angle including financial, family, sleep deprivation, academic, spiritual, etc. It’s a time of tremendous growth designed to increase your understanding of the body of Christ and your dependence on Jesus as your redeemer. Be honest with your classmates, it’s a lot easier (and more beneficial) to walk through this together. 2) Don’t leave seminary without some idea of what you would do if you were in charge of a youth ministry. So many people leave seminary with no desire to do youth ministry but for one reason or another end up getting “stuck” with it.