In two decades of being involved in Student Ministry leadership I have seen several consistent threads, one of these patterns I posted about yesterday–the downward spiral of a youth leader (read it here). The fact that the average stay of a Youth Pastor at any given church is 2-3 years merits some examination as to the contributing factors. Well, in networking with many of these Youth Pastors the story of discontentedness and frustration factors have been very consistent. I named three of these factors in my previous blog in relaying the story of “Garrett”:
- Taking On More Responsibilities (outside direct student ministry)
- Holy Huddle Ministry Focus (discipleship over evangelism)
- The Grass Is Greener ANYWHERE Else (not just listening to but exploring other opportunities)
1. Stay “Student-Ministry-ONLY” Focussed As Long As Possible! Though “your voice” may be wanted in a variety of ministry settings and though the influence is tempting, it RARELY leads to anything other than frustration because you become less effective in your primary calling and more divided in responsibility (and I’m yet to see it lead to a significant pay increase for any Youth Pastor).
2. Keep Evangelism As a Personal Commitment and It Will Overflow: If you are committed to reaching out to your peers with the gospel, it will overflow to your ministry and your students no-matter-what. Even if most of your gatherings are “holy huddles” students will eventually see you doing evangelism and it will begin to rub-off on them in and through your stories. (NOTE: I wish I would have done a WAY better job of this while a Youth Pastor, the last 3 years have rocked my world and I love it!)
3. Consider Your Calling: The grass will often seem greener at ANY other position. Upon further examination, it may just be the weeds or moss that is green. All positions will carry frustrations, hurts and hard times. Be very thoughtful in considering if it is time to move on.
We all understand that God moves people, but I can’t help but think of what it looks like to see a youth leader faithfully pour into a group of students for three, five or even seven years; the fruit of his/her ministry often lasts for years and years to come. Maybe a single-focus (student ministry), with an emphasis on reaching out (personally and corporately) will lead to less discontentedness and looking on the other side of the fence!
I thank God for you, Youth Leader! Thanks for pouring in to the teens and may you be able to experience much fruit in your current situation!