Today’s Lazy Youth Pastor

By Jonathan McKee Posted on March 20 2012

“Today’s youth pastors are the laziest bunch of people I’ve ever met.”

Disagree with it if you want. I didn’t say it, and it wasn’t an all-inclusive statement. I know plenty of hardworking and even over-worked youth workers. This comment was said by my friend in a moment of frustration.

But…was there some truth to it?

I heard the comment a couple weeks ago when I was having lunch with a close friend, a 20+year youth ministry veteran. A school principal had just called him up and pleaded with him, “Help! I need workers!”

How many of us get that opportunity? (Yeah, that’s a whole nother article.)

My friend was scrambling to try to mobilize some volunteers for this incredible ministry opportunity. Here was a school that was looking for mentors and tutors, and was providing an open door to come on campus and hang out with kids. My friend was already doing this; you’d think that other youth pastors would have jumped at this opportunity too, right?

He called 5 different area youth pastors (who had students in that particular school) and asked them if they’d like to be involved in some way: come on campus once a week, hang out with kids at an on-campus after school hangout with ping pong tables, air hockey, etc., or help mobilize volunteers to tutor kids after school.

Not one youth pastor responded.

I pushed back a little bit at my friend’s skepticism. “Yeah, but it doesn’t mean they’re lazy just because they didn’t respond to this particular ministry opportunity. We can’t jump on everything that comes through our door.”

My friend didn’t even respond to my statement, he just laughed and said, “Here’s the typical youth pastor in our network. He prepares a lesson for Sunday morning and Wednesday night. Then he sits in his office for about 20 hours a week doing homework for his seminary classes which the church allows him to take. He occasionally hangs with a couple church kids… but has no contact with any teenager who doesn’t walk through the threshold of the church door. If he is asked to take on more projects, he’ll respond with some bull about having family boundaries, when in fact, the guy works 37 hours a week, tops, including seminary!”

Wow! What an indictment.

But is there any truth to it?

If there weren’t, then how come right now I know 5 churches that are looking to hire a youth pastor… and I don’t have one name to give them?

I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but at the same time, I’m a little bummed that there would be even a handful of youth workers displaying the above work ethic in a world where some people are projecting that the full time youth worker is soon to be extinct. Let me say it another way. “Hey youth pastors! Our jobs are in danger! Churches are cutting budgets and beginning to throw out the chaff. Don’t be the chaff!”

So what do we do about this?

I’ll be honest. This article isn’t written to those lazy youth workers (they aren’t reading it anyway, they’re still in bed, propped up on two pillows, playing x-box live right now). This article is written to you youth workers who want to make a lasting impact and are willing to pay the price.

Three important truths we must remember.

Be Committed to Your Calling

A youth pastor isn’t a job—it’s a calling. Just ask any of the tens of thousands of volunteer youth workers around this country (and world) who are working 5, 10, or 20+ hours a week…for free! Why? Because of a passion inside of them. Because they love young people and want to make an eternal impact.

When youth ministry becomes a paycheck… quit, and get a job at Kinkos.

Yes, youth workers need boundaries so they don’t neglect their own spouse and kids, but part of our calling as a mere follower of Christ is to respond to opportunities that the Spirit lies in our lap. This is a calling. There will be weddings, funerals, midnight phone calls and homeless kids that need a place to stay on a random evening. Are we ready for this?

This last month I was almost rushed to surgery because I developed a severe eye infection as a result of an infected stitch in my cornea transplant (long story). Two doctors met me every day for 8 days straight. One of them came in while sick (wearing sweats), the other came in on several of her days off, including Saturday and Sunday. Why? My eye needed care right then.

If a doctor is that dedicated to their job… how much more should we be dedicated to our calling?

Do What You Freaking Say You’re Gonna Do!

Simply put: many youth workers are flaky. Some even find the stigma amusing—showing up late, being unprepared. It’s all a big joke. I was at a church where the parents all jested about the youth pastor’s time scheduling skills, they called it “Jim” time.

I thought we were going to leave for camp at 9AM sharp? We’ve been standing here in the parking lot for 2 hours.”

He meant 9AM Jim-time.”

Working with teenagers doesn’t require us to discard qualities like professionalism, responsibility, and, dare I say, integrity? Let me assure you, as a parent of three teenagers, I am very selective of who I entrust my own three kids to. Show me a lack of responsibility…then sorry, but you can’t have my kid for the weekend.

The concept is simple… and scriptural. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. If you say you’re going to meet the pastor at 11:30, then be there at 11:30. If you tell a parent you’ll call them that night, then call them that night. If you tell a kid that you’re going to be at his game, then be at his game.

We need to keep our word… even when it hurts (Psalm 15:4)

Be Missional

Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing… or stop doing it.

I sent this article to a bunch of youth ministry veterans for feedback before its release. One of my buddies commented, “Laziness isn’t the problem for many youth workers, it’s the fact that they’re working on the wrong things!”

My friend mentioned at the beginning of this article couldn’t get even one of five youth workers to venture outside the church walls to visit the local campus. Why is this? Is it because they’re lazy? Or might it be because they’re focused on the wrong tasks?

Why do you do Wednesday nights?”

“Uh… because when I was hired… we were told to do Wednesday nights?”

No wonder ‘programming’ is getting such a bad name. We need to stop simply running program, and begin striving toward our mission! Imagine the impact if every youth worker threw out all existing paradigms and just asked themselves, “How can I reach out to kids that don’t know Jesus?” and “How can I help believers grow in their faith in Jesus and serve Him?”

I’m not saying kill Wednesday nights, but you better know for sure why you’re doing Wednesday nights. I hope that the answer would be one of those two elements just mentioned: OUTREACH or SPIRTIUAL GROWTH.

If our youth ministry “job” is just a list of activities and programs, then our ministry is impotent. Let me be very clear. I don’t think that churches should eliminate the youth pastor position. I think churches should only recruit youth workers who are purposeful to do whatever it takes to do OUTREACH and SPIRITUAL GROWTH. This youth worker (whether volunteer or paid) would be constantly looking for opportunities to connect with different types of kids with different spiritual temperatures. This youth worker would jump at the opportunity to go on campus and hang out with kids that don’t go to church. Similarly, this youth worker would also help believers grow in their faith through one on one discipleship, Bible studies, service opportunities, and worship experiences. These aren’t mere ‘programs’; these are venues that achieve a purpose. In addition, this youth worker would want to be constantly developing others to help her reach the lost, and help believers grow. A youth pastor’s job isn’t to do it alone, it’s to equip the whole church to do youth ministry.

And yes, this youth worker might even go to seminary in addition to her time spent as a youth worker, pulling some late nights studying and going to class, just like every plumber, welder and nurse who works full time and goes to school on top of that.

I’d love for my friend to be wrong about today’s “lazy” youth pastor.

I’d love to have a list of names of men and women who not only have a calling to work with youth, but are ready to work purposely toward introducing young people to Christ and helping them grow.

Are you on that list?

Jonathan McKeeIf you liked this article from Jonathan, you’ll love his books, Ministry By Teenagers, Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation, and his brand new 4 Session DVD curriculum coming out this May, Real Conversations: Sharing Your Faith Without Being Pushy



Picture of Tony San Nicolas

From Tony San Nicolas on March 20, 2012

Great article! I just wanted to add that it is extremely important to have an ARMY of committed and jesus-loving volunteers. I have found that in my ministry exerience, both as paid and unpaid, the key to the directors/pastor’s success in reaching out to kids (or spending any amount of time with them) was a volunteer staff that was commited to keeping the ministry active, dynamic and Christ-centered. This gives the pastor the ability to do his “job” as well as keep that “boundary”. Just my $0.02. Cheers.

Picture of Tbalow

From Tbalow on March 20, 2012

Deent article. Good reminder. Not sure you understand what “missional” really means…or maybe you do and you just feel like you have to include it in any and every article written.

Picture of Sara G

From Sara G on March 21, 2012

I have been doing youth ministry for over 15 years and this article is spot on (including myself in the mix!). I remember hearing (and personally saying as well) so many youth pastors complaining about everything; parents, pastors, the church, the hours, expectations, etc., and have found it kind of embarrassing. Honestly, For example, I have in my years of doing youth ministry never worked as hard as any of the 1000s of auto-workers here in the Detroit area. These people work in ungodly heated conditions, 7 day, 12 hour shifts, dirty and hard physical labor on top of being a place where, vulgarity, pornography and other things are rampant and yet, even these guys find the time to volunteer at our church, and you rarely hear them continuously complaining about their jobs! I often would challenge a youth worker to volunteer at Chrysler, GM, a business office or some other place of employment consistently every week a couple of days. They would look at me like I was crazy, yet we expect this from others as we are able to sleep in, be flexible with our meetings and hours and actually work in a building that prays and isn’t hostile to Jesus. I’m not youth pastor bashing, I too have fallin’ into the “lazy” youth pastor role, but it’s articles like these that kick me in my self-centered, pity party butt and allow me to realize once again how very blessed I am by the calling I have been given.

Picture of DavidG

From DavidG on March 21, 2012

Great wake up call, esspecially “do what you freakin say your going to do”.  Younger pastors don’t typically get what the big deal is.  Parents are constantly trying to figure out if they can trust this person to take their 7th grader to the beach, you have to follow through.

Anyway, my experience with youth workers is a little different.  Most of the youth pastors I’m with are unbalanced the other direction.  They’re not carefull choosing how they spend their time then they loose their family and their personal life is a mess.  They say yes to eveything at the demise of the most important things.

Sure there are some of us who are lazy, but lazyness isn’t the issue, it’s being wise in how we spend time.  How do we develop and live in balance?

Picture of Julie Krager

From Julie Krager on March 21, 2012

Great writing as usual. This is the scary truth! We need more people with integrity and understand this is not a calling to fun and games but discipline and passion. I’m thankful to know several YP’s that do NOT fit this description but they are becoming few and far between.

Picture of Kari

From Kari on March 21, 2012

Great article, and reminder to stay focused on what truly matters.  My husband and I both have the passion and calling to youth ministry, and are just the type of “non-lazy” Youth people, and are desperately trying to find a place to serve.  It feels like sometimes churches just want a YP that are all about fun, and the churches themselves forget the missional aspect.  That is just as much of a disservice to students.  Youth are capable of more than just playing games, I’ve had some great conversations with students.  My prayer is God will show us where we can live out this calling and passion soon.  We’re the youth pastor couple that is at all the school events, and any opportunity to get inside the school, or even to work with students in any capacity we seize it!!  Our God is a missional God, and he allows us to join Him on that mission to radically impact our world.  We should never squander that opportunity.

Picture of Lisette Fraser

From Lisette Fraser on March 21, 2012

Amen!!! Thanks for writing this & for calling us Youth Worker’s to the mat! As a veteran youth worker, I’m grateful for the people who called me to a higher standard & a strong work ethic from the get go. It’s good for us to share that gift!

It was many years ago that I was at a purpose driven youth ministry conference where Doug Fields was giving a message about youth ministry. I’ll never forget that message, it was all about “Perception Being Reality.” He challenged us youth workers to act like professionals, dress like professionals, have offices that reflect us being professionals, etc. I won’t ever forget that message & the call to take our jobs, our calling, dead serious!

Picture of Joe

From Joe on March 21, 2012

I actually agree with the statement that paid the paid youth worker is a dying position. And in some ways I think this can be a good thing. At our church the person in charge of student ministry is our assistant pastor. He has many roles including student ministry of a variety of ages. He is also on the teaching rotation, provides counseling, and helps cast vision for our church and runs an incredibly solid program midweek. I really do believe that the typical “youth pastor” who is a screwball, shows up late etc, and basically shows a lack of professionalism absolutely should be gone from our churches. We need men and women who will be faithful and responsible for our young people, and develop strong relationships with parents. I want to see the day when being called the “youth pastor” is actually understood as a pastoral position, and not the role of glorified babysitter. of course, the only way to make that happen is to BE the kind of youth leaders who can retake the respect that so many youth leaders deserve for their hard work. It especially blows my mind that those of us in paid staff positions could and do take the opportunity we have been given so lightly…great post and great challenge

Picture of Scott Riley

From Scott Riley on March 21, 2012

I’m on the list and ready for my next assignment!

Picture of Jimmy Higgins

From Jimmy Higgins on March 21, 2012

Totally disagree with most of the article and comments. Most youth workers oare overworked, under payed and devalued.  After leading networks and being in youth for 16 years I have yet to meet the lazy youth pastor. Intern yes, but not a lasting pastor. It’s a high calling with an almost impossible job description and this is why so few respond. What other pastoral position expects you to be the graphic designer, setup and tear down crew, counselor, campus minister, worship leader, small group leader, adult leader recruiter and trainer, vehicle supervisor and commercial driver, administrator and event planner, assistant to other pastors when needed, minister to parents, crisis counselor and responder, networker, fun and responsible, connection to the ever-changing teen culture, etc. etc. etc.  Oh, and sometimes we actually get to study the bible and hang out with students :).  Let’s be honest, stop beating ourselves up.  It’s a difficult calling to be sure, but the Lord is faithful.  We need encouragement.  This article really was sad to read and disheartening.

Picture of Suzanne Cox

From Suzanne Cox on March 21, 2012

My church represents small-town rural churches that cannot afford the luxury of hiring a full / part-time youth pastor.  We rely on dedicated volunteers that have a passion for teens and their spiritual welfare.

My husband & I have been active in our youth ministry for over 25 years now.  God has given us the talent, vigor, and creative ability to ministry to three (3) generations of youth.  Too bad, He hasn’t kept our bodies and physical stamina as we were 25 years ago!  =)

Picture of Jimmy Higgins

From Jimmy Higgins on March 21, 2012

Praise God for you guys!  Our Jr. High ministry is run by a volunteer couple who have done youth ministry for about 20 years now and both are retured.  They do an awesome job and we coulnd’t function without them and others at our church.  We have about 2,000 people at our church and only 4 paid pastors right now so we love you guys!

Picture of Jodi

From Jodi on March 21, 2012

I agree with the generalizations of youth pastors. I am a mid-thirties woman that has been called to youth ministry and just recently accepted a position with my church. I am definately in the minority. Thankfully, I have found a great group of fellow devoted youth pastors that I meet with. Youth ministry is hard work, but no one ever said it would be easy! Thank you for your article. You really do understand youth workers from the inside. Keep writing.

Picture of L

From L on March 21, 2012

I do agree with being committed to your calling, following through on promises, and focusing on being missional.  I struggle with the quick assumption that these 5 youth leaders who declined the invitataion are lazy.  How much time was given between the question and the answer - maybe these youth workers needed to spend time praying about the opportunities that they face?  Do we know what ministry they have on their plates right now?  Maybe they are serving the Lord in another venue.  Just because someone doesn’t follow God’s calling the way you do, doesn’t mean that they are necessarily lazy.

Picture of Lisa

From Lisa on March 21, 2012

Missional is so very important.  As a FT Director of Student Ministry, I tell ‘my’ adult leaders to not just be about fun/games.  I tell a story about another brother in ministry I met during a mission trip who BRAGGED about the pranks he played on the kids - from leading the guys to steal the girl’s underwear and putting it in the freezer to giving all of his kids benadryl at a lock in because they were so ‘off the wall’.  Needless to say, his group was the one at the hospital 3 times during the week with serious injuires.  I think he’s the reason that the book “Better Safe Than Sued” came about!

Picture of Bill McLarty

From Bill McLarty on March 21, 2012

The bulk of this article infuriates me. I am a 41 year old father of 4 that spent about 20 years running from what God was calling me to do. I have been a full time youth pastor for the past 3 years. Prior to that I was a volunteer youth worker for about 5 years. In the years leading up to working as a full time youth pastor, I owned and operated my own business. For those of you who don’t know, when you are self employed, if you dont work you dont eat. I take my calling as a youth pastor incredibly seriously, and the fact that someone would imply that I was lazy frankly ticks me off. Furthermore the fact that there are actually youth pastors out there giving me a bad rep ticks me off even more. I work on average 45-50 hours a week and still at the end of the day usually still have stuff to do…..............Now if you would please excuse me as I step down off of my soapbox, I feel that my rage has subsided and I have nothing else intelligible to say. :)

Picture of Leila

From Leila on March 21, 2012

The article never dared to assume that ALL youth pastors are lazy - just that there are lazy youth pastors.

As the former student of a lazy youth pastor (who was exactly the description you gave) and someone who has worked with lazy youth pastors, I really appreciate the bluntness of this article. We get away with a lot in paid youth ministry because many of us are accountable to virtually no one and we basically make our own schedules.

I appreciate the overall theme of the article which was to show another side to the “proper time management” discussion. We don’t talk about being “lazy” often - but we talk about being overworked A LOT. The happy medium is between laziness and saying “yes” to everything.

Picture of David C. Lannan

From David C. Lannan on March 22, 2012

As a part-time (almost volunteer) youth pastor I am offended by much of the article and many of the comments. You will find that it is rare in many communities to find churches who have funds or care to pay for a full-time youth pastor. I work a full-time job in addition to the hours I put in at church for a very nominal amount of money as youth pastor (but I am not doing it strictly for the money, it just would be nice to be compensated for the wear and tear on my vehicle and my health, lol). Often we are doing the ministry with very few volunteers and it is hard to find dedicated volunteers who want to work with kids sometimes. Most of us part-timers would probably jump at the chance to work in the schools if we weren’t already working full-time jobs in addition to our voluntary or part-time roles as youth pastors/workers. I may be lazy in some regards, but I spend much of my personal time preparing for Bible studies, sermons and volunteering in the community - at a local youth center where I help tutor kids and along with the other volunteers supervise recreational activities. Often the youth pastor is seen as someone who “gets paid to play.” Often those “play” times are opportunities for showing the love of Christ to children in need of spiritual nurturing because they don’t get it at home or are too afraid to play in their own neighborhoods. Often we are called upon when there is a family crisis, so we may be on call 24/7/365. Often we are expected to do anything the senior pastor and board members are too busy to do or don’t want to do. We always hear the negative but rarely hear the positive. Many days I pray that something positive happens that keeps me from quitting the church because the negativity is draining.  We spend too much time criticizing, complaining and gossiping in the church rather than encouraging our leaders, especially our youth leaders. I know there are some who may be “lazy” or unconventional but don’t paint all youth pastors with the same brush. I think there are a lot more good ones out there than you realize - they just don’t get paid full-time for youth ministry.

Picture of Ben Read

From Ben Read on March 22, 2012

I have definitely seen what he described as the typical youth pastor in his network, but I agree with others that its not all youth pastors.

I relate that I’m sure at the time of your discussion he was probably more speaking out of frustration, but I get it at the same time. But I think different student ministries are in different places and have different resources. I know right now our volunteers simply would not be willing/able to add that on, not because we are lazy, but because of any number of reasons.

But definitely a great article, thanks for sharing.

Picture of BAKUNZI David

From BAKUNZI David on March 22, 2012

Am humbled for such an article and my prayer is that we as youth ministers should wake up and take the Advent message to the whole world in our generation for time to keep quiet is over.
Thanks for the good article
Praise God

Picture of Shawn Michael Shoup

From Shawn Michael Shoup on March 22, 2012

Right on, Jonathan. Great article. It might seem like a Debbie-downer, but I think the encouraging tone proves otherwise. Encouraging youth workers to get off their duffs! ;D

I will definitely be sharing this link with my Gateway NextGen leaders. Thank you!

Picture of Jen

From Jen on March 22, 2012

I think the people that were “offended” by this article need to read it again, or look at your own heart. This article did NOT say all Youth Pastors are lazy!!! But there are some out there, and if you haven’t seen it you must be living with your head in the clouds, or you haven’t seen a mirror lately. There are lazy people in every career path, and we are no exception. Lazy Pastors drive me batty. This article did an impeccable job describing many of them. Great article; thanks for being real.

Picture of Lewis Norton

From Lewis Norton on March 22, 2012

This is a bit harsh, but from what I know of youth pastors (and of myself), we tend to be these two things. Lazy. And arrogant.
I’m just being honest. This is my default mode. Fortunately, I do have a few years, although not a ton, under my belt. Not much has changed, except I’m more aware of these default modes and can nip them in the bud more quickly.

Picture of DennisGordon

From DennisGordon on March 22, 2012

Thanks for writing this & for calling us Youth Worker’s to the mat! As a veteran youth worker.

Picture of Carlos Webb

From Carlos Webb on March 26, 2012

Youth pastors rely heavily on their volunteer leaders in order to have an effective youth ministry. However, most volunteers come into a youth group with a very limited understanding of how youth ministry works, and what it takes to be an excellent leader.

Picture of John Morris

From John Morris on March 26, 2012

This is deeply convicting of me. It is not just convicting in the sense, “we should do better.” It is convicting in the sense that if God took me to court for being a lazy youth minister, the evidence would be abundant. I have done almost exactly what you describe - turned down or at the very least grumbled at “having” to go the school campus. I felt like it was imposing in my “busy” schedule. The truth is, I work 9ish to 4 in the office, minus 1.5-2 hours lunch. I have church times, of course. and I work on lessons from home Saturday. I really struggle with actually doing good ym work during office hours, and I don’t do much outside of office hours if I don’t have to because I don’t want to neglect my wife. I have let ministry become a job, not a ministry. I do ministry, hoping to do good things, but with no real sense of calling. Thank you for an eye-opener, but more importantly pray that I can serve this ministry a lot better!

Picture of NathanPriest

From NathanPriest on March 28, 2012

Great article! I just wanted to add that it is extremely important to have an ARMY of committed and jesus-loving volunteers.Nice information.

Picture of Mike Lewis

From Mike Lewis on March 29, 2012

Great Article, This should motivate you and not get you down, I have seen many youth leaders come and go and it is so true it’s not a Job its a calling a way of life.
God bless

Picture of Anonymous

From Anonymous on March 29, 2012

A friend in youth ministry asked what I do to fill 40 hours per week.  I laughed because I thought he was kidding.  A normal week for me is 60+ hours…  I had no idea what kind of company I was in :)

(Not that 60 hours per week is good.  I need to work on boundaries!)

Picture of jared evans

From jared evans on March 30, 2012

Unbelievable article. Not in that it is un-believable but that it hits right to the core.  I’ve been in youth near 15 years, I have seen my position cut, budgets replaced, and yet the LORD still calls me to the youth. This article will be sent to my team of youth workers, and gives a great opportunity for us to lead by example, and speak up and reach out for our youth and more importantly our Lord and Savior.

Picture of rob

From rob on April 03, 2012

I have never been a youth pastor but instead an Assistant Pastor in charge of youth.  May sound the same but it is very different.  I have seen more churches not end the era of a Paid Youth Pastor but instead changing it.  Our church body had insight some 13 years ago to hire me as an Asst Pastor.  The insight was that a person working in this position can better transition between the adults of the church and the youth.  Seeing as I work with both neither sees me as one or the other (the old guy or the flake).  I can never get too serious or too casual as the two groups balance me out.  This allows me to be responsible and goof off in perfect balance.  Both the adults and the youth see me in a more complete way…as so I.  This also allows the youth to transition from highschool to adulthood within the church.  They do not have to leave the young pastor they have built relationship with to the older pastor who seems to be disconnected form their world. 
I believe the creation of the Youth Pastor role has done some harm in the church body.  Let me explain.  It has created a church within a church and often an us against them mentality.  Often youth will not transition into the Regular church because it is like joining a whole separate church.  I believe this problem was created with good and bad intentions.  Good in that some from the body saw a need that was not being meet.  Bad in that it should have been meet by the body and the pastors instead of creating a separate church within the church.  As we get older we like our ways and often do not like to bend for the needs of those younger and so what better way to deal with the problem but to give them their own pastor and service on Wednesday’s.  So you have the adults service and the youths service.  That is messed up in it’s selfishness.  So you are seeing more and more Sunday morning services with no youth attending because they have church…it is just not on Sunday morning (or it maybe in another room that morning).  I believe we have created a problem that we now complain about.  “Why are there no young people in churches?  What is wrong with this generation?”  I think I just explained why.  They are…the ones we created for them so they would not push their ways into our services.

Picture of Charles Wallis

From Charles Wallis on April 10, 2012

I have been in both situations - being lazy, doing seminary, to being overscheduled and over-committed.  I think one of the main issues is that churches traditionally expect everyone to come to them and fill the seats, so we tend to sit at the church and hope that happens because we are doing something really great (i.e. all night pizza party???)  In the last couple of years, I was finishing seminary and got tired of doing ministry for my office and computer.  I wanted to be around real people in the real world.  God opened doors with Campus Life, Bible studies, coaching, etc. so now I am rarely able to sit in my office and do “ministry.”  I sense occasional resistance from those who wonder why I am not at church more often - but I feel like I am doing something that matters.  Perhaps the full time youth pastor career will decrease as more of us get in real world ministry. Those of us who get paid a good salary to do full time youth ministry are very fortunate (like getting to play a sport) - and sometimes we take advantage of it and get a little lazy, and others times we spend days and nights with students on hard floors, playing crazy games, long road trips, etc. so maybe it balances out in the end.  Thanks for the article.

Picture of bill

From bill on April 10, 2012

I loved the article.  I have been seein this for some time.  I work with several student pastors and have been at this for 30 plus years.  My call and my family are my life and i love it. recently the other guys on my staff reminded me that 85% of all people come to Christ by the age of 18.  Whether you agree with this stat or not, it reminded me that i get to serve on the front lines everyday.  Whether that is at our church with students coming to us or at one of the 13 schools we spend time in regularly.

Picture of Trevor

From Trevor on April 17, 2012

Love the rant. Agree completely. Glad you spoke your mind! Keep up the good work, we all benefit from it.

Picture of Tonya Berry

From Tonya Berry on April 27, 2012

Jonathan I agree 110% with your article if that’s possible, and not just because you’ve been so cool to us over the years.  At our last church, our Pastor was paid more than my husband and I have ever made TOGETHER in our entire lives, and yet he kept half day office hours and said he was too busy to read, do Facebook or help the poor.  And so, we left, along with my parents, who had been there 25 years.  That church still does not have a youth leader nor a youth group despite the fact that I offered them usage of my 10+ years of experience for free.  They said no.  Why?  They want a man.  They got a man a few years back though.  They paid him his salary - again, more than we’ve ever made together in our entire marriage - an entire year, all at once.  He “tried” for about six months and then gave up, then announced that he was moving back to the state from which he had come.  This is precisely why our ministry is independent of any church.  Oh and by the way, we have never been paid one penny for what we do.  In fact - we fund every slice of pizza, every mile and broken part on the van and every sheet of paper for flyers - out of our own pockets.  And we wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Picture of Stephen

From Stephen on May 02, 2012

Good article… (“nother” is not a written word by the way… it’s the combination of “an” and “other” so it should actually read “a whole other” when the word whole is inserted… i know, i know, we say it that way so why not type it that way… I don’t make the rules.)

As far as the article, I’m pretty split.  I know a lot on both sides.  Most of the great youth pastors are simply committed to and called to pastor youth for the duration of their ministry.  There are a lot of other “lazy” youth pastors who are called to be pastors and need experience, and let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of ways to get that experience outside of being a youth pastor while being able to afford to live.  Ultimately it comes down to the expectations of the church.  There are also a lot of youth pastors who are called to be pastors who do very well and try very hard in youth ministry because they understand that ministry is more than knowing how to teach an incredibly deep, theological bible study and realize that living out the theological truths has more impact since ministry is about people.  I felt like this might have been too sweeping of a generalization, and might miss the bigger questions like “how can churches better invest in their future pastors?” and “how can we help the local church to see the need for committed youth ministry as a greater priority?”  Just some thoughts…

Picture of Meggan

From Meggan on May 09, 2012

if a pastor works 40+ hours a week & says no to things because he NEEDS boundaries for the sake of his family, I am floored that anyone would dare to call that person lacking of passion. Pretty judgemental & totally uncalled for. What makes the calling of husband & father any less than the calling to be a youth pastor?!

Picture of JImmy Higgins

From JImmy Higgins on May 21, 2012

This is a response to Rob’s comment about youth not being in the main services, not be a part of the church as a whole, and that it’s wrong to create a sub-group within the church…

First of all I would like to admit that I’m at a pretty unique church, but almost nothing of what you are saying applies to us.  We have no “youth service” or Sunday school for youth on Sunday mornings.  Our students serve in children’s ministry leading small groups, worship and taking care of the little kids. We had an average attendance this school year of about 85 students, and we had about 85 serving in ministry as well- a pretty good ratio. Our new freshmen arrived tonight and we were busting at the seams.  These students are the first group to come in who have been serving in ministry on Sunday mornings since their childhood (our church is 8 years old), and they love worship, love serving, and are reaching out to others in the community and around the world.  They serve in missions, on campus, in ministry at our church, at old folks homes, in the inner city, and more.  As a result our church is growing exponentially and we constantly hear that it’s because we don’t just talk about it but do it. 

They also show up to the main services and LOVE IT.  We do have youth meetings and small groups, but it’s no different than having a men’s study, M.O.P.s group or women’s studies.  This is where students connect with their peers, mentors, and are taught scripture as it relates to their specific life situation.  Don’t attack youth unless you’re ready to also ditch the mom’s ministry, men’s ministry, senior citizen’s ministry, etc. There is a place for corporate worship, and also for smaller groups to meet as well.  I do agree that students shouldn’t ditch main services to go to youth instead, but this isn’t always what’s happening. At least this isn’t what’s happening in our situation.

Where it is happening there may be other issues at stake.  Let’s face it - many students are in churches where they don’t want to go to the main services because the services are LAME.  Students see empty tradition, dry sermons, adults arguing over non-essentials, talking about saving the world but doing nothing about it, and mediocre to horrible music being offered to the God of the universe who created all music. Some of them are in the “youth services” at churches that offer them because they want to grow deeper, worship from their heart and see how scripture applies to them in this unique transition of their lives.  Please don’t slam kids for wanting to grow spiritually just because they don’t boost main service attendance.  I’ll be their advocate and go to the wall for them.  They are taking over and changing the world and you better start leading them yourself or get out of the way.

Picture of Jason

From Jason on June 06, 2012

I have a question that I think may be related to this article and would love to have some input: How many students would you say are required to constitute a need for a FT youth pastor? Just curious as to what you think… Most elementary teachers top out at around 23-28. Seems to me that would be a good benchmark to begin thinking about a FT youth person (if you really want that person to invest in kids/famileLinda, THANK YOU for the card and for the encouraging note…I’ve felt pretty beat down lately, so your card was a nice pick me up. Love you guys-you and Virgil are GOLD. : )s the way they probably need invested into.)


Picture of Patty Sweany

From Patty Sweany on July 03, 2012

I just sent your posting to my husband.  I thought he would be happy to read that here you are - another person telling it how it is. 
We were just talking about it yesterday - “what people think” when he writes about how it is. 

Picture of Jermaine Smith

From Jermaine Smith on July 06, 2012

I enjoyed the artical as well. I have been in youth ministry for 10 years and have been the Youth Pastor 5 of those years. I think we can get stuck in a certain gear. Do I think youth pastors are lazy no. I believe a lot of youth pastors may not have the right training going into this call. I work a full time job, married, and still have to find time to minister to my youth. The great thing is that my wife works with me in Youth Ministry, so it makes it easier for her to see things from my stand point. Some people don’t get to see all the stuff a Youth Pastor has to deal with. You have parents, students, volunteers, and the church that can be supporting you or all against you. Any body that receives the call to be a Youth Pastor I pray for them because a lot of times they may be the only person who is speaking the WORD of GOD to that youth.

Picture of CJ Grayson

From CJ Grayson on July 18, 2012

Many youth pastors aren’t so much lazy as they just don’t know what they’re doing or where to start. They revert to a bare-bones default of focusing on what they know is actually required/expected of them—i.e., preparing for a Wednesday and Sunday message, hanging with a few youth kids, and studying for their seminary courses. When I as a youth pastor, I had very little experience. I had no quality youth pastor that I could turn to, who could disciple me and show me what it means to do real youth ministry. I didn’t know that I needed to take a lot of people out for coffee, do life with people and meet with potential leaders, invite them to come alongside. I didn’t know how to grow my team, to delegate responsibility, to create new mechanisms for the express purpose of giving new people a place to serve and find significance. As a result of my lack of experience/knowledge, I unfortunately didn’t get very far in my 4 year stint in youth ministry. My first mistake was taking on a church that was on the decline and predominantly senior citizen-based. It would have been tough anyway, even if I had experience. It was nearly impossible without it. In certain ways, I was lazy. But in many other ways, I was just clueless, and I KNEW I was clueless—I just didn’t know how to fix it. And unfortunately, praying a lot wasn’t enough. There is a practical side of ministry that can only come with the God-given wisdom that comes through experience. There are SO many things I would do differently now if placed back in that situation. If you are a youth pastor in a similar situation, God bless you—it’s a tough place to be. Just know that you are making a difference, and the more you seek the Lord, experience life, and the more you do life with quality ministry leaders over you, the better you will become over the years.

Picture of kelley

From kelley on July 29, 2012

This article wasn’t the best article to read just after returning from the second mission trip I’ve led this year. During my first 5 years in youth ministry, I had two jobs and was expected to work 60 hours per week.  I now average 50-55 hours per week and there is no way I’m going to let someone make me feel guilty for not heading up a tutoring program.

I know there are plenty of lazy youth pastors out there, but I’m not one of them. I hope your friend isn’t accusing the youth pastor of being lazy when he isn’t. Many people have no idea how hard my job is. If it was easy, I don’t think so many youth pastors would drop out so fast!
Thanks for your article. It obviously impacted many people. m

Picture of Mike

From Mike on August 09, 2012

I don’t mean for this to sound like a diatribe… but I feel like this article is long on accusation and short on solutions.

Here’s my situation:  I work for a medium sized church in the DC area.  I’m required by my supervisor to put in 30 office hours a week from Monday to Thursday.  I put in an 8 hour day on Sunday (Sunday School, worship, prep time, Sunday evening youth meeting).  That leaves me two hours of flex time to hit 40 hours, and this is usually taken up by a visit to our Tuesday night program, a volunteer meeting, a meeting with kids/families, or some combination of the above.

My office hours are non-negotiable, and frankly I think that’s part of the problem.  Our church (and every church I’ve worked with prior to this one) expects me to be in the office during the day.  My constituency (kids!!) aren’t available during this time.  The result is that after I write out all of my publications, plan our youth meetings, attend staff meeting, shoot out a handful of emails, and do whatever busy work I get pulled into by other staff I still have 10-20 hours a week of office time in which I’m not sure what to do with myself.  Again, I want to reiterate, these hours are non-negotiable.  If I could shift my schedule to noon-8pm two days a week, I’d gladly do so… but the church wants me to ride my desk during normal business hours.

So what I’d like to hear more of from the author is this:  What the heck do I do during office hours when the kids are at school, the parents/volunteers are at work, and all my planning for the foreseeable future is taken care of?  Sure… I can create busy work for myself all day long, but what is it that you think I should be doing that would actually be productive?

I feel like this article is a needless slap in the face.  Sitting in an office with nothing to do sucks.  It’s painful, morale-lowering, and boring.  Believe me, I’d much rather be busy.  Calling youth directors lazy who honestly can’t figure out ways to fill their time is much too harsh.  I think the youth ministry community is poorly served by this article, and it would have been more productive to actually write an article outlining productive ways to spend the 10 hours a week where you’re stuck at your desk with nothing to do.  Writing an accusatory article is much easier… especially if you’re being lazy.

Picture of sonya

From sonya on August 17, 2012

the youth leader at my church has poor leadership skills. he enforces some rules but not all. when we went to a fine arts trip, we didnt sight see at all. he said the trip was all about the kids. my concern is if the kids get their own way all the time, they will throw a fit when they dont get it. the youth pastor has admitted to having favorites, which is unfair to the other kids. all i did the whole trip as his assistant was watch the kids sleep and swim in the pool. even sermons that were geared for the teens were left as optional instead of manditory. he started pastoral classes AFTER he was made youth pastor. hes a good guy and has a heart for God, but he lacks experience and leadership. we were late to the services and praise and worship at the fine arts competion because he wouldnt stay on a time schedule. there has to be balance. the kids need structure, and they need a strong leader, but they need time to themselves too. not one teen opened their Bible on that trip! i suggested a Bible study for the group but it wasnt even considered! i felt more like a babysitter than an assistant.

Picture of Jeremy Stafford

From Jeremy Stafford on November 29, 2012

I think your pool of YM is too small.  I remember going to a network meeting and talking with the table.  Everyone at the table was from the Mega Church (Same Church).  There was a High School Youth Pastor, a Junior High Youth Pastor, Teen Worship leader and a couple of assistants.  They all realized that at my church, I did all their Jobs.  I was Jr. High and High School….with some young adults. 

So if you want a more realistic reality of Youth Ministry want a church that does not have a large youth ministry budget.  Where Your budget is what you can fund raise.  Where the person teaching the children is the same person teaching the teenagers!  So, my suggestion look outside and you’ll discover some amazing youth leaders who are not lazy, who are very dedicated! 

Picture of Brandon A

From Brandon A on December 10, 2012

I agree with much of what was stated, but I also know that not all guys are like that.  Many times, it is also dependent upon what the pastor wants (not that the YP shouldn’t be a self-motivator).  I have been in youth ministry for 16 years and have worked for various types of pastors.  Some of those pastors have run me to death; in excess of 100 hours a week at the expense of my family, others haven’t.  There must be boundaries, but boundaries can’t be an excuse when a FT YP is only putting in 35 hours per week.  There is no excuse for being unprepared, having poor time management, and not hanging out with kids.  I am very fortunate to have an excellent rapport with the local school systems (there are 9 school districts that I have to deal with).  Yes, there are a lot of lazy youth pastors out there (Facebook & Twitter dominating their time), but there are a lot who have been abused and used up by their pastors.  Don’t assume because someone is a youth pastor that they are lazy, because many aren’t.  Walk a week in my shoes and that perception will change.

Picture of Justin Tackett

From Justin Tackett on January 02, 2013

Hey,  Good stuff, here.  I just started in youth ministry at a church in my home town.  Its not my home church, but it is a great Church, with fertile ground, and willing people.  I left school a year away from getting a bachelors degree in fine arts to take this position.  Seems that God would be calling me to this based on opportunity, and i have a desire within me to help kids to grow and find that life is so much more than a selfish journey to the top, but that its a life that can be changed to live and work in the Kingdom of God.  Its been a really bumpy start,  and the one thing i know i need is support and examples of how to do ministry.  I know what i would like to have come out of this ministry at my Church, but getting there is a whole different story. This article helped me out a little.  Thanks for posting it. 

Picture of Cathy Glista

From Cathy Glista on January 09, 2013

Do you have any stats on the student/pastor ratio for hiring? Thanks, Cathy Glista

Picture of Matt Marcantonio

From Matt Marcantonio on January 15, 2013

Quick comment: I think this is a good generalization. I fit what you described as a lazy pastor. Let me explain:

- I’m in the church office 40+ hours a week.
- I’m a full-time youth pastor, paid what a part-time employee would be paid.
- I do attend a school of ministry with Assemblies of God to get credentialed. However, I pay and sometimes I do read my required reading in my church office to take a break from other ministry roles.

Why am I in the office 40 hours a week? Because our pastor can’t do it all. I make hospital visits, I make house visits, I lead worship, I do ALL media elements of church.

The only dangerous side of this article is the generalization. Personally, I’ve contacted EVERY school in area (5-8) and not one wanted me as a volunteer. I went through process to substitute teach and they did not want me.

I’m involved with FCS at many schools.

Am I lazy? Lazy for furthering education, lazy for helping a overworked and underpaid pastor, lazy for ministering to church, lazy for extending hand to schools? No.

Do I complain that I get paid nearly mininum wage after receiving a bachelor’s degree from one of the top universities in the United States? No. It’s a calling. Not everyone can do the ministry you explained.

If ALL youth pastor’s just had to be a youth pastor—nothing else—I think we would get somewhere. The problem? We’re not just the youth pastor—we are associate, media and cleaning person. We can only—by nature of the church—spending select time actually doing youth ministry.

That’s what happens when you’re in a 150 person church. I know pastors who do just youth in megachurches and their ministry is nuts because they can spend 5 hours talking to unchurched teenagers during day. Most youth pastor’s can’t.

But, hey, our students are growing spiritually. We just need to make the most of our time.

My 2 cents :)

Picture of Charlie

From Charlie on January 15, 2013

Matt - I think you describe a common experience for a small church youth pastor.  Sometimes ministry information is directed towards large churches and large ministries.  I heard about a church where one youth pastor is full time at $60K to pastor 12th Grade boys (there is another for 12th grade girls).  I am sure he is pretty busy, but probably has some advantages a small church does not.  Some churches are so big every ministry position is paid.  I am not sure this is what Jesus wanted when he started the church, but it is a reality.  Still a small church is fortunate to have a full time youth pastor, but often cannot pay well, and expects a lot from them.  Bottom line is being faithful to what God has called you to and it sounds like you are.  Speaking personally, I know I have taken advantage of the flexibility of time schedule that allows me to do things I could not do on a regular job, like coaching sports, attending school events, or doing something with family.  So I am thankful for that part of small church youth ministry.

Picture of Steven Records

From Steven Records on February 04, 2013

Wow. I never really thought of that sort of culture being in youth ministry. Probably because I have only been a part of major youth groups with Oneighty, Hillsong, and James River Assembly. Thinking about it through your perspective makes sense. A lot of youth pastors are young bucks that are still working out their work ethic.

Picture of Coty Brown

From Coty Brown on February 05, 2013

I think this whole perspective just blew the Pastors cover! If we had of all been smart at the time, everyone would have jumped in to help.

Coming from someone who serves the Church on a regular basis, there is no such thing as “no help”, coming from certain individuals.

Let’s get this straight, you can’t blame the Youth Pastor for not standing on his head”.

Picture of Josh Tiel

From Josh Tiel on March 13, 2013

Thanks for the time that you spent in putting this article together.  May God continue to bless you in your ministry.  This has really got me thinking and praying I’m not actually one of those lazy youth pastors but more instead just one who is really discouraged right now.

God Bless

Picture of JRV

From JRV on April 13, 2013

Recently, I got a job with a secular company that had a phenomenal mission. I have heard many things about this agency and I really wanted to be part of it while I was in transition of ministry jobs. I prayed about it, thought about it, and was ready to invest my time and then some to make bring this organization to the next level. My position was going to be Family Advocate. It sounded nice and I thought for sure I would live out the mission of Christ in the many families I would come in contact with.

Little did I know that my position was looked down on. I had a person just above me making sure I knew that she was on top. She even had posters of herself says, “Queen B.” After working here for three days and having no relief from her yelling, mind games, and name calling. I thought I should go to the main office and file a complaint. I did. I found out that many people before were all subjected to this women’s behavior and they all quite fairly quickly.

About a week after this. I was thinking about this job. I knew I could do the work. I wanted to help people. I wanted to be salt and light to the people I came in contact with but the air was taken out of my sails. I thought to myself, why bother…nobody is grateful. God could use me in a million more places. I thought about quitting but my family needs me to bring in money.

I am not a lazy person. When I did youth ministry I was very active and did as much as I could. I went above and behind. But there was no HR department to report congregants who disliked me for a million different reason and non pertained to my work ethic. They criticized me without merit, set me up, plotted, and worst of all taunted me.

I looked at both of these positions. One was church based and one wasn’t. I had to come to terms with the realities. The reality is Jesus’ sacrifice was missional. He died for the human race. Youth pastor are taught and encouraged to take any form of abuse and call it ministry. Then, when I read about the disciples going out and evangelizing the world they are don’t to allow the dust on their feet serve as judgement to a place that doesn’t accept them.

So, I fought back with the secular position and I was heard. Yet, when I tried to address the issues in the church I had a few spokes persons reminding me that they are my boss and I had no right to speak up against anything.

Well, perseverance is a big deal. However, can we blame a group of people who are putting their hearts and emotions on the line for a bunch of teenagers, selfish parents, and over critical council?

People in the church need to value and encourage men and women who serve as a youth pastor. Calling them lazy is only another reason why people like me are ready to work in secular jobs so I can clean God’s house of the carnality. I like to think you cannot threaten to take my paycheck away or have me fired if I am not working there.

Churches ought to be intentional no matter what church about blessing their under paid, under valued, and over stressed youth pastors. if this doesn’t change from the older generations of people then the church will never grow because it will be full of people who never practiced what they preached even in their own church.

It’s a shame that so many people and churches do.

Picture of Joe

From Joe on June 05, 2013

Great Article. Definitely a good reminder! We all definitely need to humbly examine “our game” from time to time and be sure we are being obedient to GOD in how we spend our time. I would however caution that looking at the hours of any youth pastor, is not necessarily a good estimation of their commitment level or the level of their work. Some pastors work 60+ hours and when you stand back and look at what they are doing you wonder…“how in the world is he spending all his time? Nothing is happening!” And one glaring “fruit” of this “work"aholic is a neglected family and a overly critical eye for anyone who does not “put in the hours” they do. Others work 35+ hours but every moment is spent intentionally with teens, with parents or with preparation for ministry. And with those 35+ hours they are accomplishing more than many of the good ole boys doing 60+ hours. Personally I do not fit into either. But I have seen the effect of both and would always choose the latter. And for those angry with the youth pastor for only working 35 hours…make sure you are getting all your facts straight. Are you also considering visitation time,  ministry time in church, the hours he spends each week on the phone with teens, the many youth retreats, rallies, events, conferences, and camps he attends that pull him away from his family?  As a youth ministry veteran of 20+ years I occasionally find myself coveting the positions of other non-youth Pastors who leave their loved ones far less often than myself…That is until I remember the amazing calling and privilege youth ministry has been and Lord willing will continue to be. The best we can do as Christians (let alone youth pastors) is open up our schedules to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We will find that when we do so not only we will be far more effective in our ministries AND in our families…and more at peace with ourselves as well.

Picture of Jared Lars

From Jared Lars on June 06, 2013

How about a lazy pastor? 

One who only preaches once a week.  Who “works” from home, spending only about 4-5 hours a week at the church office.  Who never meets with his ministerial/outreach heads?  We have men’s and women’s ministry, Mothers Day Out, feeding the poor, ministering to the homeless ... no mention from the pulpit, no participation in most, the very minimum in others.  Hasn’t EVER spoken with the leaders of these outreach ministries regarding their ministry.  This after being the pastor for 6 years! 

He always on FB ... usually talking about himself or his family, or busting on some sports star or Hollywood type.  Has 7 or 8 fantasy league football teams going at the same time.  Watches his 3 grandchildren 2 days a week.  Gets 5 weeks vacation and unlimited sick/personal days.

Work?  Whatever. 

I spoken to him in regards to his work habits and he tells me that I have no business doing so, that he answers to God and the personnel committee.  Unfortunately, the latter committee is headed by a good friend of the pastor.  He doesn’t see anything wrong with the pastor’s work ethic, time in the office or the fact that he’s only preaching the Sunday AM message.

Picture of Ken H.

From Ken H. on July 09, 2013

As one of the volunteers in youth ministry that have been praised so much in the above comments, I have to say I agree with portions of the article, if not all of it.  My complaint about many of the paid youth workers I’ve seen are shown in some of the above comments.  They expect their volunteers to give at least 10 (if not more) hours a week along with my 50 to 60 hours a week of work and yet they put in their 40 hours per week, maybe.  The staff at our church are (generally) off on Fridays and Saturdays to make up for working on Sundays.  They often take off extra days after camps, retreats, mission trips, etc - yet the volunteers have to go back to their job immediately when they are back from “camp”, and this is after taking vacation time to participate in these events.  The expectations on volunteers are higher than the expectations for staff.  I think that ministry staff should give at least 10 hours per week outside of their area of expertise - to a different ministry.  It seems to me this would provide for a better understanding of what they expect out of their volunteers.  I will say there are also, often, issues with volunteers too.  Many work in youth ministry because their kids are there (a warm body if you will) - I think working in youth ministry is really a calling if you are going to be effective in reaching and changing kids lives so they can participate in ministry and bring glory to God!!

Picture of Chris

From Chris on July 30, 2013

no offense but are you a youth pastor or do you just tell us youth pastors what to do?  You act like you work at a church with teens but you don’t.  So until you are a pastor stop trying to tell us what we are doing wrong.

Picture of Charles

From Charles on August 02, 2013

“Do What You Freaking Say You’re Gonna Do!”

The author lost all credibility with me when he used the christian cussing. Seriously, how can you teach kids to be morally upright and use euphemisms like this. Every kid in the room is going to hear the other F word. Sad that this practice is accepted even among leaders.

Picture of Jeremy stafford

From Jeremy stafford on August 16, 2013

Please remove this article it’s an insult to youth ministers.    It damages the reputation of youthspecialties.  It’s an old article. Please remove it

Picture of Patrick B

From Patrick B on August 20, 2013

I enjoyed this article – it made me consider my own habits.  I’m not the “archetype” as outlined in the beginning of the story, though I believe there’s always room for improvement.  Weekly I keep a record of my activities so I can face the results of my hours and if I could regard those results as productive.  It’s easier to reflect vaguely on the week as being full of focused Christ-centered work, but more difficult when you have to look at your labour on an itemized spreadsheet.  There are many criticisms on this page and I can only hear myself say “you protest too much!”  If your conscience is clean after reading this – and similar versed articles – then ease back and move forward with confidence that you uphold the standards given to you by God and the body of Christ.  If your conscience harkens at you, then in all sincerity look for help in managing your time or redirecting your ministry.

Picture of Marissa Stanfield

From Marissa Stanfield on August 25, 2013

Thank you for this article. I need help and direction. I attend a church that I absolutely love. we are a nontraditional church and our focus is on unchurched people or people who went to church and left. Because the biggest portion of our church is unchurched people we have really struggled to get good help. I was actually doing curriculum being a background person when the youth leaders stepped down. I stepped up because there was a need not because i felt called. It is wayyy outside my comfort zone. However, I’m going on two years now and there has not been anyone else stepping up. I’m starting to feel like maybe God has me here for a reason. Here’s my trouble. My group of kids has 35 to 40 kids in it. It is usually me and one other lady who has never taught either but loves kids. We teach every other week. Then the opposite weeks it is an amazing lady who teaches school and is great at what she does. We have a video based curriculum, but with so many kids I am overwhelmed. There isnt really a chance to do much more than controlled chaos(and it really doesn’t feel very controlled) We use a ticket reward system for behavior, but with that many kids there’s always some that are constantly talking or whatever. Also the age bracket is huge. 5 year olds to fifth grade because the 5 and 6 six year old teacher stepped down and no one else has taken them on. I feel like I’m drowning. I need tips on how to restore order in my class and where do I start? I grew up in a church that had no Sunday school so I have no experience to base things off of. If we do games with the kids, we have half that don’t want to participate. When that happens we dont have enough man power to keep them busy and do games with the others. When everyone joins in its so many that it takes forever to do the game. obviously the amount of kids make this way more complicated. Is there anyway around that or do we just have to find someone who will step up and take on another class? Thanks! Your answer would be greatly appreciated!

Picture of staceybruno

From staceybruno on September 23, 2013

I never believed in love spells or magic until I met this spell caster once when i went to see my friend in Indian this year on a business summit. I meant a man who’s name is Dr ATILA he is really powerful and could help cast spells to bring back one’s gone, lost, misbehaving lover and magic money spell or spell for a good job or luck spell .I’m now happy & a living testimony cos the man i had wanted to marry left me 5 weeks before our wedding and my life was upside down cos our relationship has been on for 3years. I really loved him, but his mother was against us and he had no good paying job. So when i met this spell caster, i told him what happened and explained the situation of things to him. At first i was undecided,skeptical and doubtful, but i just gave it a try. And in 7 days when i returned to Canada, my boyfriend (now husband) called me by himself and came to me apologizing that everything had been settled with his mom and family and he got a new job interview so we should get married. I didn’t believe it cos the spell caster only asked for my name and my boyfriends name and all i wanted him to do. Well we are happily married now and we are expecting our little kid, and my husband also got the new job and our lives became much better. His email is

Picture of John Paul

From John Paul on October 03, 2013

This is really sad.  It is a burden to me that individuals like Jonathan think they can generalize a large group, i.e. youth pastors across the country like he does in this article. What do you mean by a large group, well great question, Jonathan is generalizing churches in America and that is a large group, but in reality he is leaving this issue open-ended and therefore claiming it is really an issue across the global church. To call everyone who is in YM lazy, which is what Mckee does in this article, is offensive and just plain counterproductive.  Jonathan usually sees problems within churches or youth groups and loves to talk about them, but hardly ever does he bring about solutions.  He is no help, after all, he doesn’t work at a church, full time, part time, or quite frankly, at all.  He just loves to write books and speak and then go back to his non-involved profession.  It is disturbing that this is what he is saying about individuals who are really doing ministry, not just telling others how he thinks they should not do it.

Picture of Lisa Cash Hanson

From Lisa Cash Hanson on November 18, 2013

I’ve been in church for years. Serving and knew there was a call but thought it was totally different than what God had in mind. Over the years young girls would always come to me. Finally I realized God was telling me something. I stepped into youth, was asked to speak and God began moving in them and me in ways I never expected.

Many were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. I came to this post because I was studying today and trying to learn how I can serve the kids better and also help our ministry. I’m not the youth pastor I just help him along with many others.

Thank you so much for posting this. I’ve prayed for God to open the school doors. Now I know through your post it’s possible but funny thing Jesus never talked so much about the open doors. He did however pray to send laborers because He said they were “few”.

You’ve helped me to focus my prayers for laborers to our youth. They are so valuable to God.

Picture of Chris Knuth

From Chris Knuth on January 22, 2014

my problem isn’t laziness but the fact that I spend the majority of my time: working on the website, planning Sunday worship, leading music, fixing tech, etc.  I am often the only person on staff with tech skills and have trouble saying no.

Picture of nathan payne

From nathan payne on February 01, 2014

After more than 20 years of serving in various positions in churches, as well as working a full-time secular job, I am more bothered by the responses to this article than anything else. Over the past few years I have served as the “interim” music minister at a church of over 300 people, while also teaching a Sunday school class for young adults, doing monthly services at an assisted living home…all while being the Operations Manager at a manufacturing facility that requires 45-50 hours of my time each week. And oh…by the way…I have a 21 year old in college that we visit, and a 14 year old son at home, as well as a wife of 21+ years.

When I hear Youth Leaders complain that they have to work 30 hours in the office during the day and then also interact some at night…I just laugh. “Welcome to what every volunteer in your church goes through if they have a day job!” And considering the age of the majority of Youth Leaders that I see, most don’t have children at the age where they are heavily involved in other things themselves (sports, music at school, etc).

If you think being a Youth Leader requires you to be multi-skilled, just talk to some of the parents around you. They deal with just as many demands, and yet do so in a non-Christian environment the majority of the time. And if they have to go on a business trip, it’s not likely to be to a camp or to the beach, and they normally don’t get to take their family with them.

Are all, or even a majority of Youth Leaders lazy? I doubt it. Is it a position of “luxury” for most churches? Absolutely. There are many churches making significant impact in their young people without a full time Youth Leader. In fact, many Youth Leaders complain about pay (along with their housing allowance, insurance, etc), yet they make more than many full time Pastor’s do at churches in the 100-150 member range, who most often have to be bi-vocational. In today’s economy where people have less to give and many churches are struggling financially (especially in poorer areas), and with the spiritual urgency of our society, here needs to be less worry about “working” 50 hours and more focus on impacting the world. Is it a job…or a calling?

If you believe “balance” in ministry is about working 40 hours and that’s it…may want to rethink your calling. You don’t have to go crazy…but you do need to look at the volunteers around you and consider what they are going through (having worked 50 hours and still helping you) before you complain about your 40.

Picture of Eric O

From Eric O on February 01, 2014

Thanks for the needed kick in the pants. Even the hardest working youth pastors can fall into a slump and just coast. But I do think the author’s story highlight the need for youth pastors within an area to connect with each other. Many times we think our job is like playing Hungry Hungry Hippos and we do what we can to attract students to our program and no one else is going to get the chance to minister to them. I don’t know any youth pastor who couldn’t use the help and accountability that a fellow youth pastor can provide.

Picture of Melodie Eisenhofer

From Melodie Eisenhofer on February 02, 2014

I have to say as a Pastor, with twelve years experience, that I loved what you have to say here.  My family and I have been called to help churches start or restart youth ministries.  My pay is quite low and I would love to make more.  However, I want to be where God has for me to be when He wants me to be there. 

In our current church, we have seen a youth group of three move to over fifty in two years.  The teens are getting saved and getting baptized.  They now attend both Sunday and Wednesday services and get involved in the other ministries of the church.  Our outreach push has been limited until recently, due to a vacant Senior Pastor position, but that will start up soon as well.  I can’t wait to see what God is going to do next.

The thing that is frustrating to me is that we have over twenty churches in this small town and we are one of only a few who allow outsiders in.  Many won’t let those who do not attend their churches even come to any youth functions.  To me, ministry is about saving the lost, discipling the saved, and sending out those who are discipled!  I know that God has prepared and called me to this.  I can’t let limited income come between myself and His purpose.

Full-time youth pastors, please remember how blessed you are.  I put in as much time as my senior pastor (and to his own admission) sometimes more.  lt is difficult to make ends meet a lot of the time.  Remember that it is your job and calling to give it your all.  There are a lot of youth pastors who would love to be compensated as well as you.  We are not called to give God what is mediocre.  We are called to give Him our best!

Blessings to you!

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.