“Most churches are not worthy of youth pastors. Youth pastors, stop giving yourself to organizations that use you to better “market” their church to families; that expect you to “produce” programs; and that exploit you because they know it’s hard to leave the kids you love. Walk away. Don’t take the job, because if you do, you’re wrecking it for all of us. Raise the bar. Boycott churches unworthy of youth pastors. Amen.”
I am thankful for the church I currently serve. This is my first vocational ministry; I’ve been at Eastview for 5 + years. While not perfect, it has been perfect for me. At the beginning, there was probably some talk about programming and marketing, but I didn’t hear much of it. I get along well with our elders, and the preaching minister and I have a great relationship. My door is always open, and so is his. On the days that we are in the office at the same time, we probably interrupt one another 2 or 3 times, sometimes for ministry-related stuff, other times because we just need a momentary break from the tasks at hand. When I go to his house, most times I knock and then walk in. We try to get a lunch together at least once a month, and most Mondays we have a weekend debrief, sometimes more than an hour. In a way, it’s a little tough for me to identify personally with the above. But.
Each month, I meet with different youth ministry groups, our city has a youth ministry fellowship, I go to Des Moines to meet with Christian Church/Church of Christ youth workers, am involved with Group’s Inside Track Team for SYMC…I cannot tell you how many conversations that I’ve been apart of that indicate the abnormality of my situation.
Stories of youth ministers being called while on vacation and being told that there job was in jeopardy of they didn’t show up the next day for a meeting with the pastor. Job descriptions being changed with no input from the youth minister. Going for weeks on end without a meaningful conversation with church leadership. People having salaries cut with a week’s notice. And I ask myself, “what is going on?” I just don’t understand.
Surely, some youth ministers are morons. I only hear one side of the story. But, I also take a look every so often at open ministry positions and I see some absolutely unrealistic expectations for ministers. I see congregation size and pay structure. Basically, I see what Steve is talking about above. So here it is:
Youth ministers…take a step back for a minute. Try to objectively evaluate yourselves. Are you being dumb? Are you worthy of trust? Are you faithful in your ministry? Do you have solid relationships? How’s your relationship with God? How are you using your time? Are you training your adults? If you’re being stupid, stop. Stop now. I’m sick and tired of hearing the lame jokes about writing a lesson 2 minutes before youth group and of hearing stories of you letting kids be dumb…the “ultimate sit-up” and all of the other stupid things you do in the name of fun are not. Essentially, you are a lawsuit waiting to happen. To quote Steve, “you’re wrecking it for us all.”
Church leadership…take a step back for a minute. When is the last time you went to a youth group event? Not to judge, but to participate? When is the last time you asked how your youth minister (or any minister, for that matter) was doing? How about a restaurant or grocery gift card? Have you once asked your ministry staff how you can pray for them? When is the last time you told your staff to go home because they’ve been neglecting their family? Take a look at the job description of your staff. Then, look at their pay. Then, remember that the staff member is on-call 24/7. How does that compare to your job expectations? When that congregant came to you to complain about something said from the pulpit or the mark on the wall…did you defend your staff? Stop being stupid and support the person that you hired, after all, you hired them after prayer, right? That would imply God’s will was involved. Did He change His mind?
I’ve recently heard that fewer and fewer people are entering the ministry. When our kids see the absolutely ridiculous things that take place in churches, why would anyone want to be a minister?
If you’re ministering in a sucky place, for God’s sake, talk to someone. Look inward, and seek the counsel of godly people. If need be, leave. And when you go to a new place, be honest and open about your expectations. Remember that many church boards are looking for someone to solve their problems for them. Ask questions that irritate.
If you’re a leader creating a sucky environment, repent of your sin. Stop. You are ruining people’s lives and regardless of the show you put on Sunday mornings, or how much you tithe, you are anything but Christian. You’re a son of hell, and the disciples you’re creating are also sons of hell. God’s word is maligned because of you.