You Think It’s a Promotion… You’re Wrong
Unfortunately it’s a story I have seen repeated all too often.
Youth Pastor, you think taking on more responsibilities will lead to a greater role and/or possibly a promotion. More likely it will lead to a weaker ministry, extreme fatigue, complaints and possibly burn-out!
Here’s the pattern: The gifted energetic youth pastor arrives at his or her church and helps establish some great (needed) changes in the student ministry.
- He navigates the transition well, avoiding major changes until some relational equity is established.
- She knows that establishing relationships with students, staff, parents and the congregation is critical to building an effective base for long-term ministry. It’s difficult, but she establishes a good balance.
- Though tempted to satisfy the older students, he wisely asks a volunteer already known by those students to pour into the upperclassmen while he builds a base with the younger students.
She was hired to be the youth director. Her job description calls for her to shepherd the teens in middle and high school. And thus far, she has done a GREAT job!
BUT THEN IT HAPPENS!
- The youth pastor begins to graduate students to a non-existent ministry of the church (college/young adult); so he takes on the young adult ministry…
- The youth director is extremely gifted in music and the elders have seen how students and adult leaders have responded in worship; so she begins to serve in the main services on the worship team…
- The student ministry pastor has shown a gift of teaching during fill-in times for the main service and is now being asked to preach more often…
It’s fantastic to be wanted.
GIFTED YOUTH PASTOR:
- You’re tired of graduated students leaving your church for another one with a vibrant college-age ministry, so you volunteer to start the Young Adults Ministry in your church.
- You love playing the guitar and there are a number of gifted students in your group who lead with you, so you accept the invitation to take on main-service worship once (or twice… or three times) a month!
- You LOVE God’s Word, and quite honestly, you may want to be a lead pastor someday, so taking on a sermon every fifth or sixth week would help you develop the craft.
- You discovered in a counseling meeting with a student that the problem was not the teen, rather the disconnect between the parents, so you begin meeting with them. You’ve seen progress, so you commit to counseling them once a week (but then word gets out and more requests come as well).
THAT JUST HAPPENED!
Each of these areas are great investments and it is NOT WRONG for you to take any (or even all) of them on as long as EACH of the following takes place:
1. If married, your spouse is onboard with the changes (and you’ve both prayed about it).
2. All of the church leadership is made aware of the new roles you’re playing so that there is not confusion or accusation of overstepping bounds.
3. Your job description is updated to reflect these new expectations.
4. Your compensation is changed -OR- someone is hired in youth ministry to replace the hours you’ll be giving up (because after all, they did hire you to work with the youth).
5. Parents, adult leaders and students are invited into the communication and celebration regarding these changes (otherwise the only thing they see is that you’re paying more attention to other ministries, and neglecting student ministry).
If all of these (and probably a few others) don’t happen, it is best for you to keep your focus on what you were hired to do!
BRIAN AABY is the director of YS SEARCH & COACHING, assisting churches with personnel placement and provides coaching guidance for youth leaders. Brian served for 17 years as a youth pastor and then founded and led Youthmark since 2008. Brian speaks nationally at churches, camps, conference, and events. He and his wife, Elisabeth, have three children and reside near Seattle.
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.