Saying Goodbye to Student Ministry: The Question You Need to Ask Yourself

Our calling into the ministry is not set in stone. God may have us serve in a specific position for a various amount of time, or he may call us out of ministry all together. Either way, we do ourselves a disservice when we call ourselves “lifers” in student ministry as we begin the race. Truth be told, God determines when we serve, where we serve, and in what capacity we serve. And that may be different for everyone. There’s no right answer. Yet, what I want to do in this post is share with you my experience and hope it generates discussion. If you’re not sure what specific ministry God is calling you to, perhaps this can bring some sort of clarification.

For me, I knew God was calling me into ministry, but it wasn’t until I was twenty that God clarified in what capacity I would serve. When student ministry became my calling, I knew it wasn’t going to be forever; however, I never knew when God was going to call me out of it. I concluded, “I’ll serve in student ministry with all my heart until God tells me otherwise.” It was six months before I turned thirty when God began to tell me “otherwise.”

Callings are interesting because you never forget when they happen. My journey to “otherwise” began with a vision meeting with leaders of my church. Like all vision meetings, we discussed goals, where God is leading us, how we have succeeded with the vision, and how we have failed. Our church settled on four goals, and our last goal is what did it for me. This goal is strange, and in some sense terrible, because there is no way of measuring it. Yet, we loved it, because we knew it was achieved by when it happened. The goal was simple. We wanted our church to be passionate about God. See what I mean? There’s no way of measuring it, but you knew it was achieved when it happened.

The idea behind this goal was to encourage our members to ask themselves what they are passionate about. From there, we would help them figure out how they can use their passion for God’s purpose. I don’t know why, but during that meeting I decided to ask myself, “What are you passionate about, Josh?” So I started to make a list. I’m passionate about preaching God’s word, about marriages and equipping spouses to be better husbands and wives. I’m passionate about equipping parents to be shepherds of their children. I’m passionate about equipping men to be men. I’m passionate about small groups and equipping the body of believers to live in community with each other. That’s what I was passionate about.

Did you notice something missing? I sure did. Equipping students didn’t make the list. Now, we could argue students falls under equipping parents, which falls under family ministry, a category of student ministry. I could have lied to myself and believed this was no big deal. Yet, if I were passionate about equipping students, I would have written it down. After that meeting, I knew I needed to start praying about my calling and discerning how God wanted me to serve Him.

With that said, the question you have to ask yourself is, “Am I still passionate about student ministry?” Why is this question so important? Because I believe when God calls you to a particular ministry, you are passionate about it. This means you eat, sleep, and breathe that ministry. It’s always on your mind, and you can’t get enough of it. That wasn’t me anymore. I love students and I love student ministry (If you’re not convinced, I’m an Associate Pastor writing for a youth ministry blog), but I’m not passionate about it. God has removed that passion so I can become passionate about what he has called me to do now.

If you need some assurance that God is still calling you to student ministry (or any other ministry for that matter), or if you’re trying to discern if you’re still called to student ministry, ask yourself if you’re still passionate about it. The question is simple. A “yes” or “no” will answer it, but if you answer it truthfully, it will pack a major punch. I assure you, you will be thankful you took the time to answer this question.

Are you still passionate about student ministry? Why?

If you’ve transitioned out of student ministry, how did God call you out of it?


  1. I don't know if I called myself a lifer when I was called to youth ministry but I certainly felt that way. Little did I know it would come true. I have asked the same questions you asked you over 25 years and I think because of age, station of life, etc. the answer is slowly changing but God has not released me from full time youth work. I think I'll always do youth ministry just not as a full time youth pastor in the local church.
    • Hey Paul! Thanks for the comment. I agree that there are many factors that play into the answer of the question. In my next (and probably most controversial) post I'm going to discuss why age/life circumstances do matter when it comes to transitioning out of student ministry. However, like you, I've always told my wife that if God every called me out of ministry for good, I would still volunteer as a youth Sunday school teacher. Youth ministry is special, and I hope I can always have some sort of involvement with it throughout my years.

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