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Weigh In – Volume 10: Senior Pastor Making Changes to Youth Group

 —  July 14, 2011 — 13 Comments

From time to time I post a question that comes into the blog for YOU to answer. What advice would you give this youth pastor’s wife in this time of crisis:

We’ve been at this church for a year – already longer than the last 2 youth workers! We started with about a dozen kids and now we have almost triple that on Sunday mornings (more evangelistic) and a solid 15 or so during a midweek program (more discipleship). Here’s the problem: our senior pastor just cancelled the Sunday program so we are basically back where we started. We’ve literally cried about this, and was wondering if you had an insight on where we should go from here. Help!

So … your turn. What should they do?

JG

Josh Griffin

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13 responses to Weigh In – Volume 10: Senior Pastor Making Changes to Youth Group

  1. Matthew McNutt July 14, 2011 at 3:56 am

    For me it’s hard to answer without knowing a little more – like the senior pastor’s reason/explanation for cancelling the program.

  2. Sascha Grammes July 14, 2011 at 4:40 am

    That sounds quite strange and, to be honest, very incomplete. Did you talk to the senior pastor about this. What are the reasons he told you? I mean, there IS a manual for this kind of situations in the bible: first talk with the person alone. if it doesn’t help ask 2-3 others to be part of the discussion. If the situation is still not cleared talk to the elders. Did you go these steps? Without additional information it is hard to give an advice.

  3. Kevin McCormick July 14, 2011 at 6:04 am

    I am the middle school pastor at my church and Sunday morning services have been nothing but amazing for us. We have averaged around 20 – 30 kids on our Wednesday night with 30 being the number when everybody is there and some kids brought friends. Our church is transitioning to 2 Sunday morning services and so we decided to move our middle school service to Sunday morning. My biggest pro that I presented to the Pastor was that if kids are going to only make it to one service during the week it will be during the Sunday service when their parents are bringing them. We had 43 last night and our Sunday morning group will grow to between 50 – 60 just due to this structure change. Just something to consider using in your explanation. Hope all works out well for them.

  4. Matthew Erickson July 14, 2011 at 6:06 am

    Similar to what the other people said, I am curious if any discussion 1-on-1 with the pastor has happened, to ask for the reasoning behind the change. That is obviously the first place to start, as the senior pastor is the one who is in authority over other pastoral staff, and they must submit to his leadership.

    Maybe I’m just lucky, but I find my senior pastor to be very open to my suggestions and changes when I explain why I want to do what I’m doing, so that I have his support and he has mine. We disagree at times, but I must submit to him and trust that God is guiding him in his decisions.

  5. I had something very similar happen to me in my very first job. Without knowing anything else… here’s my input and what I did.

    I went to the pastor and asked to have a private sit down conversation with him. I asked the reasoning behind his decision, explained my heart for what was going on and waited to hear from him.

    IN MY CASE:
    The reasoning of the pastor at that time was not God based, or Holy Spirit led, but more fearfully driven about losing people and money that came with those people among other things.

    I asked him to reconsider based off of scripture and telling him stories of students lives changing, but he did not agree.

    SO… I submitted to his authority of that local body and resigned. I couldn’t respect someone who would ignore scripture and what God had called us to do. I had already had that conversation with my wife before I went in for that conversation and we both had peace that God would provide no matter what if we would honor him with EVERYTHING. We ended up moving in with my wife’s family for a few months, but ultimately it was a good thing and since I’ve landed in a place that I’d call “My perfect fit” that unicorn that every youth pastor is looking for.

    That’s my short answer.

  6. As the other have said, a lot depends on his reasons. I don’ t think it is ever wrong to ask clarifying questions like “Can you help me understand the why behind this move?”

    But ultimately I believe it comes down to one thing… is that where GOD has planted you? Do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that where you are is where you are suppose to be? If so, stay planted. Stay faithful. Faithfulness is only really tested when things are tough and things don’t necessarily line up with what we were thinking. But stay faithful. The average youth pastor lasts only about a year at one location, because (I believe) too many allow themselves to get burned by this type of stuff. Longevity, preparing for the marathon not a sprint, is the key to finishing strong and fulfilling what our God has asked of you. You guys are not alone… so stay faithful.

    You will be held accountable for 2 things… staying faithful to God’s call and honoring the leadership He has placed over you. Submission only comes when it’s something we don’t want to do. SO I urge you as a stranger fighting the same battle… reevaluate as a family if this is where GOD has planted you, stay faithful, and DON’T QUIT. If this is where God has planted you (and not yourself) then YOU guys are the ones right for the job and called to serve those teenagers, that church, and that pastor.

    We’re in your corner… we’re in this together.

  7. There simply isn’t enough information to answer, but perhaps some of these questions will help you to think this through a little bit.

    Did the senior cancel anything else on Sunday morning?

    Does this fit with the philosophy of the overall mission and values of the church? (We don’t have High School on Sunday morning because we want them to be in the main service and serve)

    Why did the previous two YP’s leave so quickly? Are these things related?

    Has the Senior given you a clear vision and the freedom to accomplish that vision within the student ministries? If not, is that something you can ask him to do, spend some time with you to gain a clear understanding of what is expected?

    Hope this helps.

  8. The previous comments all have wisdom in their responses and guidelines to follow. I think regardless of the details or anything else about the situation this boils down to two options:
    1. If you can submit to the pastor’s decision and direction, then you stay and keep up the work for the teenagers. Of course, this means you can not go around criticizing or taking shots at the pastor behind his back or in public. You can air your frustration, but it has to be with someone totally unconnected to the church you serve.

    2. If you can NOT submit to this decision or agree with his leadership, it is time to begin looking for another place to serve.

    Been there. Got the t-shirt.

  9. Josh Bump Galletta July 14, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Just like John Harney, I had the same problem and resigned because of it.
    My pastor had become jealous of our size compared to his adult sunday service. We had gotten so big that the adults met in the youth room, and we met in the main auditorium. He was making may rash and unscriptural decisions. He refused to listen to the elders, deacons, and me. All our elders and deacons resigned and left. We had a church split, then I left as well. I am at a much better and healthier church now!

    Don’t stay at a church where you have to fight to minister.

  10. Start your own church with the kids and their parents.

  11. Agree wtih Ryan’s advice. I’d say that this person should respectfully voice their concerns and share their heart with the Pastor. After they’ve done that, fully support and respect the Pastor in whatever decision he makes. Pray for the Pastor. Sometimes the Senior Pastor can see the big picture that the other ministry staff cannot see. In any case, it is God’s will for us to submit to our leadership. If you know that this is where God has called you to be, then stay respectful and stay the course. Read “Under Cover” by John Bevere. It touches on these kinds of issues. This book changed my life.

  12. Sascha Grammes July 14, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    Don’t forget: conflicts are a chance to grow and a chance for change! But it won’t happen if you run away.
    As a voluntary youthministry leader I’d suggest to not see your role just as a “job” you can easily change. This is not just “one church”, it is “YOUR church”! And these are the people you love! So go into the conflict (with grace!) and work hard to get the best out of it.

  13. We had a discussion, & he said that most teenagers, after high school & college don’t come back to church. Are Pastor said he was nervous about this change & We may lose students or parents, this is why we took it very hard & we were confused. A couple of days later, he said he wanted my husband to do youth just like the adult service & no more games. My husband & I will use a game or ice breaker for an illustration. Me &another my husband love the Lord with all are heart & we are embracing the change & We are submitting. We have been praying About this. Please keep us in your prayers.

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