Youth ministry seems to be facing asymmetrical challenges right now.
Two of them on the forefront of my mind are longevity and transference of wisdom.
With a tough job market and a climate of deconstruction/re-thinking/shifting in the profession… it really pains me to see a lot of very gifted youth workers move on.
Some of them are my friends. And I put on a happy face to try to be happy for you when you send me an email telling me of your bright new idea. But I’m really sad when I see our dreams for one another give way to something else. For a myriad of reasons our sophmoric desire to be in youth ministry for a lifetime has given way to leaving ministry altogether or becoming a church planter or taking a “higher” staff position at a church as executive/lead/teaching pastor.
If I read those reasons right, most of them seem to imply– more stable, more money, more powerful positions.
Let our 20-year old self talk to our 34-year old self for a second… “ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!?!??!!”
Those are all things we swore we wouldn’t give our dreams to. But, if I can use passive/politically correct language for a minute, life seems to be forcing some of us to sell out.
I just want to toss this out there. Maybe there are others who are sitting on the fence and looking at greener pastures.
- Don’t punk out.
- Working with teenagers is as important now as ever.
- Fight the temptation to take an easier way out of your problems.
- You’ve always said youth ministry wasn’t a stepping stone.
- The grass won’t be greener as a church planter or a lead pastor, you know it and I know it.
We know this to be true: As cultural spins faster and faster the brightest minds and the greatest innovations are now will continue to flow from youth workers just trying to figure out how to best minister to kids in their neighborhoods. The best ministry innovations are not now nor have ever flowed from the top down. It’s always the other way around. The best innovators typically don’t have the biggest platforms nor do they typically have agents.
Intrinsic hunger forces innovation. The best ideas come when you have no other choice but to innovate.
Sure– I know someone is going to light me up for saying it. After all, who am I to question decisions that aren’t mine? And all the other voices in my friends heads telling them they need to go plant a church, be a teaching pastor, or chase another vocation must be right and I must be wrong.
But I’m allowing myself to be sad. And I’m allowing myself to put it in writing that you don’t have to punk out. Adversity, frustration, questioning, tension, getting fired, having to adapt, making less money, and being discouraged aren’t now and never have been “God closing doors.”
Sometimes those things are merely a testing of calling and God rewards you for passing the test.
Sure, the world needs more senior pastors. Sure the world needs more church planters. Sure the world needs more whatever-it-is-that-is-taking-you-from-youth-ministry.
But those kids. (The kid that was you. That kid was me.) That kid will always need a youth worker there at just the right moment to say just the right thing.
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