Why do Youth Pastors Cheat?

Why do youth pastors cheat on their groups? Why do we sacrifice our youth ministry? I’ve been there, I’m sure you have too. Every once in a while, youth pastors (I would argue pastors in general) feel the need to check out the playing field. We do this all sorts of ways from checking out online ministry hiring sites to emailing a friend asking for any leads. But, what I want to get at is WHY we do this. Why do we start playing the field?

I know youth pastors who constantly play the field. Shame on you.

I know youth pastors who see their ministry as what they are “currently” doing.  I’m disappointed.

Where are all the dedicated youth pastors?

You know, the ones that stay in a ministry regardless of what’s out there. That elusive bigger church, better budget, more prestige, and conference speaker circuit isn’t the goal.

Our goal should be faithfulness. 

Yes, there are valid reasons to leave a ministry. I’ve been there too. I left a ministry that my wife and I dearly loved. We cherished those students, volunteers, and the church. We didn’t want to leave, but God was literally calling us away. Maybe God is calling you away from your ministry too. I don’t doubt that, but what worries me is the frequency in which people are “called” to other churches.

I’m not a judge. I’m not a know-it-all. As a matter of fact, I’m wrong sometimes. Nevertheless, I do believe that God is calling us to “stay the course” more than he’s calling us to leave.

Here are a couple reasons that I think we start playing the field:

1. Problems in ministry

Are staff, parents, and student relationships hurting? Is your supervisor on your back to change something? Are your number of students declining? Are people not responding? Have you done something stupid? Maybe you haven’t done something wrong, but the “right” things you are doing aren’t working. Is that the problem?

It’s easier to leave than to lead.

A mentor once told me that staying in your ministry beyond a couple years is the hardest struggle. Do you know why? It’s because after a couple years is when your decisions start to take root. That’s when programming changes, relationships, and your decisions starts to work itself out. It’s must easier to start something new than lead through the result of those decisions.

Don’t give in. Apologize. Repent of your pride. Allow the Holy Spirit to repair relationships. Lead through problems.

2. The grass is greener/ youth ministry envy

Maybe someone you know just got a new youth center. Maybe they just took 100 more kids than you to camp. Sometime their small group program (which looks just like yours) is working more effectively and your students are starting to attend their groups. There are many reasons that lead to the grass is greener effect. I believe the only way to resolve this condition is to ask God to forgive your envy. Remember that every church has problems. Every staff have issues. Every ministry has highs and lows. Every ministry is tough. The only thing that is different is your attitude.

So, why do we play the field? Why do we cheat?

How can we stop? 

6 Comments

  1. I think there are a couple things that help contribute to this. 1. One of the pastors I work with has received calls from other churches in our denomination trying to hire him away. If the Church struggles to view being a pastor as anything more than a hired gun, so will pastors. 2. We (youth pastors, myself definitely included) think we are WAY more awesome than we really are. "If only I had a bigger ____ or more_____ then I could _____." What a lie to believe it is about what WE can do!Thanks for the post, very thought provoking.
    • Thanks Jesse!I hadn't even thought about the fact that other churches might try to hire you out. I'd assume though that happens rarely. I really like your statement about thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought. It's like we begin to build the Kingdom and then start to think when things are going well that it's our kingdom not his. It is such a lie. Great comment!
  2. I think there are a couple things that help contribute to this. 1. One of the pastors I work with has received calls from other churches in our denomination trying to hire him away. If the Church struggles to view being a pastor as anything more than a hired gun, so will pastors. 2. We (youth pastors, myself definitely included) think we are WAY more awesome than we really are. "If only I had a bigger ____ or more_____ then I could _____." What a lie to believe it is about what WE can do!Thanks for the post, very thought provoking.
    • Thanks Jesse!I hadn't even thought about the fact that other churches might try to hire you out. I'd assume though that happens rarely. I really like your statement about thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought. It's like we begin to build the Kingdom and then start to think when things are going well that it's our kingdom not his. It is such a lie. Great comment!
  3. "your ministry beyond a couple years is the hardest struggle"Well, sometimes it gets hard after 2 years because you've run out of all your cool talks and ideas that worked at the previous place. Instead of digging in and building a strong relational foundation, many youth ministries or built on moving from event to event. That's a dead end street.Sure, there's the whole ego / bigger is better mentality, but In my experience I've seen youthworkers "cheat" simply because their church situation is very unhealthy. They're alone, overworked, under-payed and wondering where they went wrong. Without support from the church or a healthy youthministry network women and men are tapped out.Maybe we'll stop cheating as churches develop an overall supportive strategy for the next generation. Kids are on the heart of Jesus, may our churches do the same.

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