6 Reasons To Stay or Quit Your Youth Ministry

Tom Pounder
January 5th, 2021

Youth ministry can be one of the most rewarding and exhausting jobs in ministry. Speaking from over 20 years of full-time youth ministry experience, I also believe it can be one of the most overlooked ministry positions in the Church today. It gets a lot of lip service affirming how important it is but often times there is real lack of understanding or care about how things are until a parent complains or you break something at the Church. 

With all the conflicting emotions Youth Minsters go through, it is often natural to wonder, “should I stay or quit?”. Add onto that going through a pandemic year where you had to re-strategize and rethink how you do your ministry. It added countless hours and exhaustion to your already busy ministry life. It’s only natural to question whether you need to stay or go. 

So, how do you decide? There are many factors that can go into your decision but here are 6 reasons (3 to stay and 3 to go) that could help you process and determine your next steps.

Stay because you are going through a rough season.

Every minister or ministry goes through a rough season. It happens to the best of us. But just because it is rough, doesn’t mean it is time to leave. I have found that when I have stayed through rough seasons I have learned a lot more about myself and how to do ministry more effectively than I ever did in those easier seasons. Fight through it, work through it. You and your ministry will benefit from it. 

Quit because it is an unhealthy work environment.

What? A Church has an unhealthy work environment? Is that even possible? Yes, it is possible and it does happen, more often than we care to admit. When you find yourself in an unhealthy work environment and you have exhausted all possible solutions on how to rectify it, it might be time to move on and leave. But this decision shouldn’t be made without prayer and good counsel. If, after you have done your due diligence, you feel like the work environment is too unhealthy to continue, it is time to quit. 

Stay because of the opportunities.

While you may encounter tough seasons in ministry, with those seasons come opportunities. Opportunities for you to grow as a minister and grow as a ministry. See the tough seasons as an opportunity to take your ministry to a new level and to grow as a leader. 

Quit because you are just collecting the paycheck.

Students need youth ministers who are consistent and who are available. They need leaders at their best. If you are having a tough time, fight through it, and become a better minister and person. However, if your passion for student ministry is gone, do you and your students a favor and leave. Leave gracefully, but leave. After all, when your passion is gone, you can fake it for a bit but you won’t be able to fake it forever. 

Stay because students need consistency.

Students today deal with all sorts of loss. A loss of family, friends, dreams and hopes. People and things come and go so frequently. As a student minister you have the opportunity to be a consistent presence in the lives of students. Consistency matters and it can go a long way to creating great moments and discipleship opportunities for you with students and families.

Quit because you continue to get looked over for leadership development and opportunities.

Now, if you get looked over once for valid reason or your Church won’t allow you to take continuing education classes or attend conferences during budget strapped years, this is understandable. However, if you continually get overlooked and your Church fails to let you grow as a leader, it might be time to go. I was part of a Church for 7.5 years where we were not allowed to attend conferences and I was never given opportunities to grow as a leader. I had to essentially “stay in my lane”. It wasn’t until I left that I realized how dysfunctional that was. If you are in this situation, it may be time to leave. 

Youth ministry is an amazing job. You are given an opportunity to invest in the future of many young people. Your chance for an eternal impact is immense. As amazing as it is, it is exhausting and, in the wrong environment, can cause a lot of unneeded stress or leadership developmental issues for you. As you determine what is best for you, hopefully these 6 factors could help you.

What are the factors for you that determine whether you stay or quit? Share them below.  

Tom Pounder

A father of 4, Tom is the Student Minister and Online Campus Pastor at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. He blogs, vlogs, and podcasts regularly about student and online ministry stuff. Check out his work at YMSidekick.com

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.