The more I am involved in ministry, the more I have seen people come and go in ministry. This would include myself a few years ago, as I transitioned out of one church and into another in a different town. This may be surprising to some, but the average tenure of someone working in youth ministry is approximately 18-24 months. This is a devastating statistic when we see that a majority of churches prioritize its young people and look to them as the future of the church. However, more often than not, we see a quick turnover of youth and children’s pastors despite the value that most churches put on reaching the next generation. This leads us to the question, Why? Here are five reasons that I believe we see people in ministry positions come and go:
- You’ve lost the passion. Early thoughts that once controlled your excitement for ministry quickly faded as ministry becomes less about serving people and advancing God’s kingdom and more about satisfying other people’s wishes and agendas for the ministry.
- People drain you. You are no longer energized by meeting with others and have considered meetings more of a chore than an opportunity.
- Lack of personal devotions. This is a mood-buster for anyone that hasn’t been spending time in God’s word. You often find yourself distant from God and unsure if you are in the right career path.
- You’ve lost your WHY. This is closely tied to the first one, but when we lose our why, we often forget about the reason we got into ministry in the first place.
- No one is investing in you. You are often overlooked in needing to be cared for as you are typically the one who is caring for others. This sometimes puts a false identity that church staff need to have it all together even when we don’t feel like we do.
Whether you are someone that in ministry or you are a church member that genuinely cares about the health of your church’s staff, there are a few things you can do to help. Here are three suggestions to help maintain a healthy working relationship in ministry:
- Remember your WHY. In Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why, Sinek points out that everyone in an organization knows “WHAT” it is that they do. Some know “HOW” they do it. But, very few know “WHY” they do what it is that they do. When we remember our WHY, we can begin to remove all the nonsense that can sometimes knock us off our boat in ministry. If you are a church member, encourage your church staff and affirm them in their WHY and not just in WHAT they do or HOW they do it. You have no idea how much a warm heartfelt card in the mail can make an impact on someone’s view of ministry. It has often boosted my spirits in times of doubt and questioning.
- Personal commitment to spiritual growth. Make time for God’s word in your personal life. Don’t let your preparation for next week’s lesson or sermon be the only time you spend in the word. Encourage your church staff to take time off to enjoy the things that God has gifted them with that aren’t necessarily related to their work at church. Senior Pastors, tell your staff to enjoy the day off to just go be in God’s presence in whatever way that looks like to them. Making our personal relationship with Christ a priority makes relationships and ministry so much more enriched.
- Invest in your church staff. Everyone wants to be cared for in any occupation and the church is no different! Your staff should never have to feel like they are working for a charity that can’t afford to invest in them. Maybe this is me speaking as a Millennial, but what 20-30 something wants to invest a lifetime career to a church if they are only a means to an end (which often correlates to high turnover rates). Celebrate staff’s birthday, anniversaries, and life events. Don’t assume that your staff are taking care of themselves with their paid time off and vacations.
My prayer whether you are someone who is experiencing any of the things mentioned above is that you would be able to find peace in God’s direction and plan for your life. It can often become tainted with the busyness and emotions that come with ministry, but know that you are not alone and that many others are experiencing the exact same feelings. Don’t be afraid to let others know how you are feeling and you will see that more often than not, there is a community of love and support around you.
If you are a church staff, church member, or leader in the church, I highly recommend reading through Lasting Impact by Carey Nieuwhof. You will find lots of questions that will help you get on the same page and make sure that you are creating more than just a program or a means to an end, but building a lasting impact on the hearts of those you touch.