Our final installment of New Position advice is one that I believe more youth ministers should take to heart.
Stick Around. Depending on what figures you are looking at, the average youth minister is in their position for approx. 24 months. In my current position, I had a youth graduate last year that had had 5 youth ministers in their jr. high and high school career. Luckily, when I stepped into the position, he was still young enough and open enough to give me a chance, and we formed a good relationship. Having a revolving door of youth leaders is incredibly hard on the ministry and the teens with in. How can we expect a youth to open up and connect if they think we’ll ditch them in a few months?
Part of this problem is that for many, youth ministry is a stepping stone or place holder. Some take a youth ministry post to have a position while they attend seminary. This has become more and more common. In addition, some churches can’t afford a full-time youth worker, so they hitch the job to an associate pastor who has little or no desire to work with teens, so when the opportunity presents itself, they drop that part of their job like a hot potato. So, if you are beginning a position or considering taking a position as a youth minister, whether it be part time, full time or volunteer, consider that if you aren’t going to stay for more than a year and a half, you can be contributing to the problem.
So take a look at your goals. Remember that a ministry can take time to build, especially if the last person left a mess. Twice I have come into a situation in which the previous youth worker left shambles, and it takes years to rebuild. Try your best to put some roots down into this position, so you can hopefully break the chain of let downs and revolving door ministers in the lives of these young people. And if this is something you are doing while you are working through seminary, do your best to put some great volunteers in place that will be able to keep some sort of continuity when you graduate and move on to your church.