Family Minister vs Student Pastor

There is a lot of buzz in the past 5 years about the role of the Student Minister vs. the idea of a Family Pastor doing student ministry.
Perhaps what has given the profession of student minister a bad name and a “call” for change is that many who operated in the past generation under the title of Youth Minister were in reality Directors of Student Activities in the Church. (not an actual title that I am aware of) but the point being that they were neither trained in adolescent ministry nor called by God to be the primary shepherd in “assisting” mom and dad in their biblical responsibility. While there are numerous reasons the “Family” minister replacing the Student Minister is a bad idea I would like to advocate a balanced approach and highlight the fact that many of the minster friends I have from the past 29 years of SM were doing some form of Family based, simple church, purpose driven, relational ministry with a side order of event based ministry activities all along. Family ministry . . . of course, when it can be achieved through willing and capable parents. Show me one single growing, healthy church with more than 50 students operating under a Family Minister title who is successful. Can’t find one? Me either because even those who do have a title promoting family based student ministry end up duplicating many of the same ministry programs and relational components that non-family ministry titled positions do. Why, because no matter what happens in culture – if kids have any say so at all, any discretionary time, any freedom to choose activities, a church will need to provide a platform by which to get their attention, build an atmosphere of acceptance, train their friends to disciple and evangelize and pull parents off the sidelines into a biblical parenting role of chief discipling agent in the family system.
No doubt that many churches need to blow up their so called “student ministry” and start over with a biblical, healthy comprehensive approach to making disciples within the adolescent community. Many more however simply need to refocus their primary attention on making disciples of those God entrust to them and creating an atmosphere where students can connect with caring adults whether they have supportive Jesus following parents or not.
OK, I could go on for about three more chapters but . . . I will close with a prediction that I already see happening. Those churches who abandon the role of the student pastor in favor of a true “family” minister will soon find themselves wondering why all the MS and HS students are hanging out at the church down the street – oh yeah, it’s because they still have a highly trained proficient, facilitating, point person, family advocating, relational, core group building, word preaching student pastor who knows what his job is. And, in years to come, the churches who abandon the Student Pastor position will be easy to identify because they will be the congregations with loads of AARP bumper stickers, plenty of vacant parking spaces next to the student center and no-one sitting in the first 5 rows where all the “young folks” once sat.