Youth Ministry Longevity
I recently read a blog post on http://www.youthmin.org about young youth pastors and lack of long range planning. I appreciate his honesty about his struggle and sharing from that point of view. He shares in the post that during his six years as a youth pastor he has served in four different churches.
My experience in youth ministry has been the opposite of his. I have been involved in youth ministry for more than 14 years, at the same church for over 10 years and I have no plans of leaving anytime soon. I have had people ask me many times what has contributed to my longevity, and I have narrowed it down to a few things.
1. Long Range Planning
I realize that ministry is slow. Would I like faster results? A thousand times yes! But I also realize this is not a realistic expectation. I am committed for the long haul, and my long range planning communicates this fact to the students and families I work with. I literally have a two year calendar on the wall in my office, and already have dates filled in for 2013.
I know some people have been frustrated with me because I don’t institute changes quickly, but also believe I have avoided some major mistakes because of that fact.
2. Ministry mentors with longevity
I have been blessed in my life to learn from some very amazing youth workers, and most of them make my longevity look short. One of my closest friends and ministry heroes has been at his church twice as long as me. He has seen many seasons of ministry come and go through his youth ministry and church. As I have made it through a few season changes myself I am thankful for his and many other’s examples of sticking it out for the long haul.
3. I still have a lot to learn about youth ministry
As I reflect on my ministry mentors and how much they have taught me, I also realize I have a ton more to learn. Whether it is from someone that has just started or counts their time in decades we all something of value to bring to the table. I value conferences, youth networks, blogs, books, and everything else I can tap into to keep learning.
4. I don’t view youth ministry as stepping stone
Chapter 7 in my new book is all about this fact, so I hope you will get your copy and read it for yourself. This mentality affects everything you do as a youth worker, and I hope you don’t see your youth ministry position as a stepping stone to a real job in the church.
I don’t know where you are on the longevity spectrum, but I would love to hear what has contributed to your timeline as a youth worker. What has prompted you to change churches or move on from youth ministry? What has kept you pressing forward at the same church?