During the seven years I served on church staff, I interacted with literally hundreds of youth staff members from churches all over the U.S. We shared meals together, planned, prepared, dialogued, and both celebrated our “wins” and confided our struggles in youth ministry. Almost a decade of working with students in a variety of environments has shown me one ugly truth about youth ministry…
Youth ministry can be a very easy place for lazy people to hide.
To be clear, I know fantastic youth pastors and youth ministry staff who work their tails off and make huge differences in the lives of students, volunteers, and parents. Unfortunately, in my experience and the experience of people I know and trust, such exceptional youth staff are just that: the exception, and not the norm.
It’s easy for youth staff to blow an entire day in meetings where hardly anything productive is actually done, either physically or philosophically when it comes to ministry. Parents and volunteers at churches around the country have shared with me their confusion on what someone in youth ministry does all day.
One of the chief objections I’ve heard youth staff to this is, “What are you talking about? I’m very busy.”
Being productive and being busy are two very different things. A hamster on a wheel is extremely busy, just look at how hard he’s working.
What’s more, there’s a guilt factor associated with laziness in youth ministry. I regularly put in 45-50 hours a week during my seven years on church staff and in multiple instances was almost shamed into feeling like I was the guilty one for actually working hard.
At the same time though, there were a few rare times I myself was tempted to go with the crowd and not put in a full day’s work. It was very rare, but there were a few days I could have done more and got lost in “research” for a weekend service or an upcoming message. It’s easy to let your work ethic become lax without accountability, but it’s no excuse.
We owe it to our students, their parents, church givers, and most importantly, to God Himself to be both efficient and productive with our time in youth ministry. Whether you have any paycheck, big, small, or none at all, our roles serving in ministry leave us no excuse for “just a lazy day”.
If there are parents or volunteers who are uncertain what you do all day in youth ministry, this is a great chance to share your schedule with them. It helps keep you accountable. When I was a youth pastor, there were multiple volunteers who regularly had access to my calendar to help track my progress and assist me during busier-than-normal times throughout the ministry year.
Youth pastors, youth ministry workers, youth supporters, admin assistants, youth creatives, youth worship directors, no matter what your role or week may look like, we can always stand a gut-check on our work ethic.
Would your track record and real schedule of serving Christ in ministry make Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” or does something need to be changed in how well you serve our Savior?