Why We Do What We Do As Youth Workers

David Fraze
January 23rd, 2020

I remember clearly the first time as a youth minister that I asked the question “Why?”

It was the end of summer youth ministry season.  I was tired and spent. Unwisely (key word), I scheduled one more “Leadership Retreat” to conclude, what I considered to be, an awesome Summer.  I did not want to have the event scheduled and had no budget left. But, because they complained about not having a retreat (remember I used the word “unwisely”), gave in to student pressure (sort of like peer pressure, but more sinister) and hosted the retreat at my house! At. My. House.   

I will spare you the details.  By the end of the night, surrounded by a dozen, ungrateful students, I whispered to my wife, “Tell me Lisa, why are we doing this?”  Yes, I knew why the night was a disaster.  But my question came from a much deeper place. I am certain you have been there. Done that.  And as the statement “the first time” suggests, the why question has presented itself several times in your ministry.  If not, it will. 

We at Youth Specialties spend a lot of our time and effort providing our youth ministry friends with the latest What’s and How’s of ministry practice.  We also spend a lot time reminding ourselves and others of the Why?  


This question has been in the forefront of several, recent leadership resources.  It takes a place of prominence for a reason. Knowing your why keeps your ministry and life focused, balanced, and steadfast in the face of discouragement and challenge.  I work with many youth workers who know their What and How.  Many can “work” a youth ministry program in their sleep.  However, they are discouraged, frustrated, and on the edge of throwing in the towel because they have forgotten their why

I do not want to oversimplify or imply a quick fix for those on the edge of towel throwing, but I do want to offer a quick start suggestion.  Actually, I am going to offer twelve suggestions throughout 2020. The suggestions will come in the form of story. Stories that remind you of your why.  Yep, they are my stories, but ones that are intended to help you dust off the stories of why in your own life. 

Let me start with my latest why story moment. 

Dr. Fraze!” said the young youth minister wanting my attention.

Call me David!” I responded. 

I wanted to tell you thank you!” was his quick follow up.   

Before I could respond, he quickly began to explain how a class, one that I had taught two years prior, had impacted his start and growth in his ministry. He continued to explain how he had taken a picture of me standing next to the presentation screen that included the words from the training that had impacted him so deeply.  He keeps that picture next to his desk as a reminder. 

His words were appreciated and humbling.  I responded with a heart felt “Thank you!” and explanation of how impactful and encouraging his words were to my own ministry.  

The conversation was short and meaningful.  Unknown to this young youth minister was the hidden why questions, that only a moment before, raised their ugly head during a General Conference Session.

Why try, others are better at this than you?” says the Accuser. 

Why care, nobody is listening to what you are saying?” say the Accuser.

Why show up, others are hipper and more relevant?” says the Accuser.

And then a random, not so random, moment of encouragement from a youth minister happens.  A moment this youth minister’s why was rediscovered.

Why try, others are better at this than you?”  Sure, but I have talents that bless others as well.

Why care, nobody is listening to what you are saying?” Someone is always listening.

Why show up, others are hipper and more relevant?” It is not always about the hip and the relevant.  Every authentic voice can make an impact. 

Question:  When was the last time a, not so random, conversation reminded you of your why?

David Fraze

David Fraze is an advisor and professor at Lubbock Christian University in Lubbock, TX. David also contributes as an editor at Youth Specialties, a coach at the National Youth Workers Association, and is a sought after speaker and advisor with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

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.