18 months and I am out! Part #2
The issue of youth minister’s leaving after 18 months is not new. It has been a problem for many years. Senior Pastors have a little longer stretch of almost 3 years on average. I explained the reasons for many youth ministers who leave in a previous post found here.
In this post I want to discuss a few of the effects of youth pastors leaving after 18 months. First there are some of effects that may be for the better.
1) If a youth minister finds that he is not in agreement with the pastor then he should leave.
2) If a youth minister has a family emergency then people have to understand that he must go.
3) The youth minister has an immoral lifestyle.
These reasons alone may end up for the better if the youth minister leaves because of the situation.
For many other reasons the effects can be devastating to the youth, the congregation, and the youth minister himself.
1) The youth often face a bit of disillusionment. They may get angry with the youth minister for leaving them abruptly. They may get mad at the church if for some reason he left over the way he was treated. Sometimes, just like adults, they develop a jaded view of ministers as being flighty, only seeking money, and not genuinely caring about the individual.
2) The church can begin to become hardened to the opinions and needs of the youth minister that follows. The members of the church may resolve that they were here before this youth minister arrived and they will be here afterward so we don’t really have to listen to their leadership nor meet their needs. The whole basis of this idea is that they are going to leave anyway.
3) The youth may take longer and longer to trust the next youth minister because they are afraid of that person leaving. This can happen alot where church’s cycle through youth ministers like plastic water bottles. The idea develops among the youth that they will wait and see before buying into what the new youth minister has to say. This becomes a difficult cycle because the youth minister is looking for a “buy in” from the youth and if they don’t buy in he may leave. This creates a revolving door of youth ministers.
4) The church may begin to have difficulties attracting the most qualified youth ministers because they look at the history of the previous youth ministers and see short tenures. This of course only happens if youth ministers do the difficult job of asking tough questions before they arrive rather then after they are on the job.
5) The youth minister himself will begin to act like a rechargeable battery. If a rechargeable battery is not allowed to fully run out of juice before it is recharged again then it develops a “memory.” The next time it is used it will only run to that point at which it ran last time and thus runs out of juice way too early. Many youth ministers begin the process of leaving after only 18 months, then whenever they get to their next church and approach that 18 month mark they bare already looking for another church. We as youth ministers are supposed to endure through all things in Christ. If more youth ministers did this they would not develop a ministerial “memory” and would endure a long time at any given church. There will be ups and downs in ministry and sometimes you are gritting your teeth to make it through but youth ministers must push past the tenure memory in their ministries.
These are just a few effects of what happens whenever youth ministers leave churches after only an average of 18 months.
The next blog post will discuss what can be done to improve this problem.