Youth Minister X

Youth Minister XThis post is a guest post and latest installment in the Youth Minister X series. In my experience, Youth Ministers lack the voice they should have. Thus, on occasion, I’ll provide this forum as grist for conversation. “Youth Minister Xs” are unnamed but real Youth Ministers who have been invited to speak candidly on life in Youth Ministry, or Youth Ministry itself. These youth workers come from different denominations, locations, and backgrounds. Their names have been withheld to allow them to speak freely without fear of reprisal from their employer–though not from our comments :)

Good Youth Ministers are a treasure from the Lord. They bring energy and creativity to churches while helping spiritually form the young. Whether right or wrong on a given issue, their voice is an important one. This feature is an attempt to learn more about life in Youth Ministry–and in so doing help churches grow healthier in this vital area of ministry.

Please note: these unedited comments are not necessarily those of this humble blogger. Without further ado, let’s hear from this month’s Youth Minister X:

“I want to start this off by saying I am blessed. I know it might not appear to be this way when I’m laying out some of my frustrations, but it’s true. I am blessed.

That being said, We’ve been at our Church for a few years and feel stuck. Our Elders and Preacher are constantly on my case about growing the Youth Ministry, but our congregation has not grown in years. We look at the other churches in our town that are growing and criticize them for doing something unscriptural in order to grow. I look around our youth group and see tremendous growth in knowledge, but our Church only gets to see that on a couple of Youth Sundays.

Whenever I’m asked to take on another task, it’s assumed that I’m going to say yes. If I say no, I get accused of not earning my paycheck. If I say yes, I get separate meetings with the Parent Team, the Youth Deacon, The Elders and probably the Preacher too when I inevitably drop the ball on another task.

My wife is the most underpaid person on staff. She earns $0 as a youth minister but has almost as many expectations as I do. She goes above and beyond what any other volunteer at our Church does. She does get recognition for her effort, but she’s also exhausted.

When times get hard I start daydreaming about what would happen if I just up and left youth ministry all together. I could go work for my father-in-law, or go back to school. I wonder if I’m qualified to do anything else.

The big problem is that there are plenty of us here that want to help create momentum, but we have no outlet. Our oldies but goodies no longer have the energy they used to. And any new ideas get bounced around leadership meetings until any ounce of energy has left. Every once in a while someone will step up and create some movement. Whenever that happens there is this spark in our Church and those invested eyes’ light up, and then shut tight again when it typically fails due to lack of support.

The highlight for us is always the youth group. They have an endless supply of energy, and typically have an optimistic spirit about our Church. Whenever we start to get down about something they serve as a constant reminder that God’s love is never-ceasing. Most of them don’t know any other way of youth ministry or Church which makes it easier to carry on.

I know we’re not alone. Long conversations at NCYM [National Conference on Youth Ministries] have taught me that there are plenty of others like us that struggle with frustration. We feel called to ministry, we feel blessed with the teens we get to work with, but battle with a steady stream of ‘if only’ questions.

I also know that there are plenty of others have it worse off. We are by no means martyrs. We’re simply stuck. My hope is that others would read this and have the courage to talk to someone about their frustrations. We’ve have taken the past few weeks while writing this to invest in another couple at another Church and are seeking that outlet in our own congregation as well. Our prayer is that God opens that door for us soon.”

Youth Minister X