Thursday, December 04, 2008

    Youth Minister Hotline!

    Responding to a recent post by Jacob on youth ministry and "the numbers game," one of our blogger friends, Dan, has asked for our collective wisdom on some struggles he's having. Read below and please consider sharing from your own experiences:

    Last night I had the opportunity to evaluate the success of my current ministry against what I know of the new church I am going to starting in January. I am scared. Currently I am on staff with an amazing team of 3 youth pastors and we reach a-ton of kids every-week through a variety of ministries. Now as I am getting ready to leave this ministry and move on to another I am frightened of the numbers game for three reasons.

    1. Going from team to Me

    2. A Significant decrease in budget

    3. Expectations of the hiring committee.

    Granted, I know these people are seriously growth oriented, especially within the last 2 years, but as I look at what I am leaving to where I am going, the numbers are keeping me from experiencing the joy I feel like I should have. I know in my heart numbers are silly, but trying telling that to the elder who runs a business, or lay-man who owns his own company. Sometimes i feel like all it comes down too is butts in chairs equals more money in the coffers, and more money means more programs, and more programs means more people and more people, means more success....Sigh. I need some encouragement.

    Your thoughts? Suggestions? Words of advice?


    Richard Jones said...

    This probably won't help, but I wouldn't work at either church. Pressure and expectation around numbers puts the emphasis on the wrong things. [Boy, I'm breaking new ground here, huh?] In churches, we too often get caught up in the culture of success, which is often fueled by "super pastors" who are mostly super around their expectations of the staff. I would not take a job where numbers was part of the hiring discussion. But since you are already in that situation, I would advise this:
    Make sure the leadership at your new church understand that your current success is not all your doing. You have a team.
    It will take time to build a team in your new location.
    Assure them you want to reach youth MORE than they do (it's your calling after all, right?), but that you cannot and WILL NOT guarantee certain numbers.
    Of course, if they hired you [and you accepted the position] with certain expectations, then you've got to live with that. You have to do all you can to fulfill the expectations you agreed to and then do the real work of ministering to kids on overtime. So either re-negotiate or just be wiser next move. And I'm sure you will be. It is unfortunate that all of us learn these lessons the hard way.

    Die2self said...

    I hope that this will bless you.

    We, youth pastors, should be faithful with the kids that we have no matter how many we are given... because we don't bring the kids in, and if you are then the Holy Spirit isn't in it, and who cares what you are doing if the Holy Spirit isn't in it... right? It is like the parable with the talents, all weren't given the same amount, but all were expected to be faithful with what each one was given.

    I do believe though, if we are being faithful with the few that you are given, you will see fruit. It doesn't have to be more kids, but you will see growth in the lives of your youth. Kids who were not that serious for Jesus becoming more serious.

    Stay away from the man pleasing, and I think we all have that issue at times, and do ministry unto the Lord. I think you should honestly tell the elders and leaders of your new church, what you are passionate about... which could be relationships and getting to know the kids and seeing them grow more than a bunch of kids coming to your youth that you don't even know.

    Whever taking a ministry position you have to know what fits with what God has called you to do. Youth ministry isn't a job, it is a calling. Know exactly what God has called you to do and stand firm in those beliefs, while remaining teachable, and people will respect that. If someone is looking for someone they can control and manipulate, then they won't hire you... but there is peace in knowing you are in the center of Gods will, and sometimes waiting for that perfect ministry that he has waiting for you is so worth it. THis is all commentary.. the word of God is the only thing flawless, but I hope maybe something i've said will encourage and bless you.

    Anonymous said...

    First, you have to decide, what will be my measure of success. How will you know that you have done your job? If the answer is anything different than changed lives, then maybe you need to re-examine your measure. I can remember when I had only one student coming to Tuesday night Bible studies. I was discouraged, but this also gave me the chance to have some one on one time that I normally would not have.
    Becasue of the realtionship formed during this time he became my biggest recruiter for Tuesday nights and we stopped having one on one time.
    Now, I outsider maylook at it and say, "well you need to spend your time more wisely than that" or "You are not reaching 'maximum impact' with such small numbers." But you know something, that guy is now studying to become a youth minister (which was not his original plan in high school). I am convinced that part of his decision comes from those one on one times.
    I know I have rambled, but here is my point: Simply do your job, the numbers will take care of themselves.
    Secondly: there are times when youwill not see the full impact of the seed you have planted.

    Chris said...

    I think sometimes it can be encouraging for people to expect growth.

    If they expect the growth to also involve more people commit their lives to Jesus.

    I would find that refreshing... I don't really have any pressure on me in my job and it can sometimes mean I get lazy unless I keep myself super accountable!

    Unhelpfully I just suggest praying that God will give you satisfaction and encouragement in Him and you work out your ministry from there!

    Brian said...

    Thanks to all who have posted thus far. I appreciate your willingness to share from your own experiences and struggles.