Youth ministry can be highly rewarding and highly discouraging...sometimes all within the span of an hour. Helicopter parents, apathetic teenagers and eye-rolling, finger-wagging church leaders can all combine to become a slow-moving vortex of depression that churns deep in the soul of the average youth leader.
So why stay in such a low-pay, high-pressure position? Why not escape to get a "real job" in ministry, a job where you are loved and respected...and where the pay is more than the typical Barista's?
Here are 7 compelling reasons to stay in youth ministry:
1. Teenagers come to Christ quicker than adults.
According to Barna 2 out of 3 people put their faith in Jesus by the age of 18. After that, the odds go way down. In the words of my grandpa, "Get the gettin' while the gettin's good." And the salvation gettin' is good before the age of 18
2. Teenagers spread the Gospel faster than adults.
Because the average teenager has well over 400 online and face-to-face friends they have a huge (and growing) opportunity to share the Gospel like no generation before them. Generation Z, the nickname for this generation of teens, is filled with "Digital natives." They're called this because they've never known a time without digital devices and social media. And because of this they have an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate the spread of the good news through their many social media channels.
3. Teenagers are daring.
Part of the reason that teenagers get into trouble so often is that their brains are not fully developed yet! The part of the brain that signals "DANGER! DON'T DO IT!" is not fully operational. Believe it or not this reality can be an advantage when it comes to getting teenagers to live out the Cause of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20)! They will do and try things (both good and bad) that adults would never dare! So let's use that to our advantage and mobilize them to Gospelize their world!
4. Teenagers are fast-learners.
Generation Z is a multi-tasking, fast-learning crew that loves to take in information and put it to use for causes that matter. Since there is no cause greater than the Gospel, let's unleash them to advance it!
5. Teenagers can be a farm club.
If you want a strong professional baseball team you had better build a strong farm club. If you want a strong church you had better build a strong youth ministry. Teenagers can become strong leaders now and stay strong leaders later if they are properly inspired, equipped and mobilized.
6. Teenagers need you now.
Suicide is up among this generation. It is the 2nd leading cause of death among those aged 10-24. Among the culprits that trigger suicidal thoughts is teen stress. According to Psychology Today the average teenager today has the same amount of stress as the average Psychiatric patient in the 1950s! Teenagers are desperate for peace and nobody will bring it to them like the Prince of Peace, Jesus himself!
7. Teenagers will thank you later.
Let's take a cue from the old "Thank you" song. Imagine yourself in heaven with a long line of believers standing before you. One by one they thank you for your investment in their lives when they were teenagers. Imagine the souls that were saved, the lives that were changed and the tragedies that were averted because you stayed in this hard (but eternally rewarding) job. Think of the gratefulness you will feel in your heart on that day because you decided to stay in youth ministry today.
I know youth ministry is hard. And I also know that sometimes God calls us into other roles. But if you are wrestling through whether or not to stick with it because it is hard consider these seven reasons for staying.
But, if you're gonna stay, do it right. Build your youth ministry on Gospel Advancing, disciple-multiplying values that make all the hassle worth it and gives you the biggest bang for your ministry buck.
If done right, youth ministry is worthy of your life-long investment! Unless God is directly calling you out, refuse to give up!