What would happen to your Youth Ministry if you left?

Yesterday, one of our contributors, Frank Gil, posted this

He’s not alone, and I know many Youth Pastors are planning beyond their Fall Calendars and are thinking about the entire ministry year that lays ahead of us, and if you haven’t started that process yet, you should.

Last year around this time, I was coming home from our annual vacation at the end of the ministry year and starting that process, and laid out a ton of great plans, from what topics we would cover in our sermon series to our Middle School small group curriculum and High School bible studies, and the events we would plan. Quite honestly, this is one of my favorite things about Youth Ministry, planning out where we hope our students will be after a year of ministry and how we can actually get them there.

Proverbs 19:21 tells us that

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will prevail.

Last July, I laid out plans for our 2013-2014 school year and felt it was going to be an incredible year in our ministry, and after the awesome spring semester and Middle School camp we had just had, I was so pumped for what was coming. But then in January I had a conversation with my Sr. Pastor that concluded with the resolution that my wife and I would be leaving by June 1st, if we didn’t find a new ministry sooner. I could go on and on about that experience, and may do that in other posts, but the short of it is this:

In all my planning for the ministry year, I never planned that in 12 months I wouldn’t be leading that ministry.

But no one ever really does, do they? God acts swiftly and decisively, and though it may sometimes take longer than we want for him to work, we don’t know what he is going to do over the next 12 hours  let alone the next 12 months. But through this experience I got to go through, I was fortunate enough to have that long of a timeline to work with, knowing where our students were, where our leaders were, and what would be coming after I left. Though there was a lot more I wish I could have accomplished in my time at Trinity, and there were many more things I could have done in even my last 6 months, I enjoyed the challenge of being able to plan for sustainable health and success in the ministry without me in it.

Ultimately, I think that should be one of our tasks every year as we plan out our ministry calendars. Youth Pastors aren’t planning on leaving, you may be praying about something, God may be doing something with you over the next few weeks and/or months, but Youth Pastors rarely plan to leave 12 months out. But this summer, as you make your plans for the next year, challenge yourself to plan a ministry that you aren’t involved with.

If you knew that in 12 months you would be leaving your ministry and they would be without a “Youth Pastor,” what would you change about the way you operated in your ministry during that time? What training would you give to your volunteers? What lessons would you discuss in your small groups to ensure the students had a foundation that wasn’t reliant on one teacher? What would you pass off to volunteers to coach them in to be able to do without you there?

I hope you see my heart behind these questions. I don’t mean them to create an egotistical view of yourself in Youth Ministry, of all the things you are needed for, and I don’t mean to encourage you to leave your ministry. But wouldn’t you like to know that if God does change your plans this year, you’ve cultivated a ministry that doesn’t rely on you? With the added bonus that if you are still there 12 months from now, you’ve got a much deeper volunteer base, as well.


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