I talk to youth leaders all the time. From Pentecostal to Presbyterian, from coast to coast, from urban to suburban to rural, God has blessed me to be in front of all kinds of youth leaders from all kinds of backgrounds consistently throughout the year.
Some of the time I'm counseling them. Other times I'm consoling them. But most of the time I'm encouraging them to "fight through until break through" with their teenagers.
I've seen a pattern. Most youth leaders are underpaid and overworked. The amount of emotional, physical and spiritual energy it takes to keep up with teenagers, let alone disciple them, would leave most lead pastors breathless and frustrated. And, because, youth leaders often don't see an immediate payoff for all their hard work, the temptation is to move on to another more "glorious" position in the church (or out of it.)
Perhaps you're one of those youth leaders who is rethinking your role as a youth leader. You're considering planting a church or leading a church yourself. After all, if you're going to do all this work, why not get a little more limelight? You're even willing to become an associate pastor in the meantime and take all the counseling, marrying and burying your lead pastor doesn't want to do anymore. In your moments of quiet frustration you ask yourself why should you stay in a position that many church leaders consider to be the lowest rung on the ministry ladder?
Or maybe you're thinking about an all out change out of the church world into the "real world." Maybe you'll just quit youth ministry altogether and start fresh doing a job that can actually pay, not the bills, but give you some extra fun/investment/etc money.
Before you send that email or set up that meeting, here are 10 reasons why you shouldn't quit youth ministry:
1. 70% of those who trust in Jesus do so by the age of 18. You are dealing in the demographic that is most open to the Gospel, those under the age of 18~
2. Jesus was a youth leader and lead a revolution that changed the world. You have the same Holy Spirit as he did!
3. Every major spiritual awakening in the history of the United States has had teenagers on the leading edge. And it's time for another spiritual awakening!
4. According to the United Nations, this is the largest generation of youth in the history of the world. There are 1,000,000,000 teenagers worldwide! Some of them live in your city and need to hear the Gospel from your teenagers.
5. Teenagers are looking for unconditional love and can only find it in our unimaginable God! You have a HUGE part in making that happen!
6. Teenagers are looking for a cause and making disciples here, there and everywhere is the ultimate cause (Matthew 28:19, 20)!
7. The average teenager has over 400 online and face-to-face friends that they can reach out to with the Gospel. And they need you to equip them to do that!
8. If you equip a teenager now they can serve Christ and advance his Kingdom for the rest of their lives. Adults are already old and closer to the "finish line" (No offense adults!)
9. Set a teen on fire and they can set a youth group on fire. Set a youth group on fire and they can set a church on fire. Set a church on fire and they can set a city on fire. You hold the matches!
10. God loves to use the "foolish things of the world" to advance his kingdom. And there's nothing more foolish than the typical teenager (No offense teenagers!)
Obviously, God's will in our lives trumps all of these reasons to stay in youth ministry. So, if God is moving you on, you must follow his will. But, no matter where God leads you, never stop influencing teenagers to live and lead the cause of Christ!
But if you are just tired or discouraged then it's time to double down, not just on youth ministry, but on the right brand of youth ministry. For more on that click here.