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Got a chance to share just briefly at the close of the college service last week – our college pastor and his right-hand man are both stepping down and into other leadership positions in and out of the church. My heart was to reassure the students present that everything was going to be OK. I just shared a few words but heard enough comments about it I wanted to post a few of them here as well in case they were helpful to someone else who is helping to navigate transition:

It is OK to leave a church. When God speaks, we listen. When He moves, we follow. In this case it is an incredible example how to leave well. To leave a legacy. So awesome. And with the same clarity we’re excited for God speaking and moving these guys FROM our college ministry, I’m excited about how God has been moving and speaking TO the new leaders our college ministry as well. Come back next week for details on what’s ahead for us leaving.

The night was about celebrating the guys leaving, but it is equally important to reassure the faithful that God is still working and leading new leadership into place in tandem with the exit. I’m not sure what’s ahead for our college ministry, but I’m thankful that God is already leading someone to take it over!

JG

I was talking to a very frustrated youth worker yesterday and he was lamenting over his so far fruitless job search. Here’s a clip of what he was saying:

I need some encouragement and advice. I have applied to many places, but no matter where I send a resume the response is almost always the same, or very similar. I don’t have enough “experience.” The problem is all I can get are internships and it seems no one values that as authentic experience. I just haven’t had someone be willing to take a chance on me, and I’m at a point in life where I either need to give up on being a youth pastor, or someone has to take the risk. I just am having trouble knowing what to do, or how to take it all in.

This is a tough situation to find yourself in – you need experience, but need someone to give you a job so you can get experience! Feels like the ultimate circular reasoning with a great youth worker caught in the middle. As I was processing this cycle this week, I wanted to unpack a few of the things that might be happening in this situation. Here’s a few ideas:

The church genuinely needs someone with more experience
There’s a chance that the church just got burned by an inexperienced rookie. Maybe they have had a string of short-timers who came in with lots of great ideas and little stamina for the long haul. They want someone they can trust, and you don’t appear to be it. Maybe this isn’t a risk-taking church and genuinely wants someone who is proven previously and chances are will deliver again here.

You failed to sell what experience you do have
In some cases it isn’t your actual experience, but how you pitched your experiences to them. It is possible you actually have the experience in the areas they are looking for but it wasn’t represented well on your resume or in the interview. Reflect on what they might have seen or not seen and how you can better align your resume’s details to what a church is looking for.

They sensed you weren’t a learner
This one is a tough pill to swallow and almost never will they say this to your face – but maybe they caught something you said that told them you weren’t someone who was willing to adapt, learn and grow with their leadership. You wouldn’t have gotten the interview if they weren’t somewhat interested, but something didn’t click after that. Argh.

It is an excuse for something else
Maybe you simply weren’t a fit. Maybe the “not enough experience” line was actually an excuse. Maybe they didn’t think you would gel with their players, or you weren’t what they were expecting from paper to in person.

Here’s the key: whatever the reason, this isn’t the church for you! It is OK to learn what you can from the situation and simply move on. It can be frustrating to be caught in this vicious circle, but God is guiding your next steps and has the perfect place for you, just keep being faithful as He opens and closes doors.

What other options are there in this situation? Would love to know your thoughts in the comments!

JG



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 who is asking some tough questions about hiring an older youth worker. Was hoping you could share your thoughts in the comments, too. Weigh in!

I just have a simple question … beyond the obvious (stamina, “cool” factor, cost? etc.), why is it so many churches are reluctant at hiring youth pastors nearing 50 with 20+ years of student ministry experience? I obviously fall into the camp. Oddly enough I feel like I am pastoring and leading volunteer leaders, staff and students better (and more wisely) at this age than I did when I was younger. Additionally … the credibility with parents comes in having my own HS and JH student living in my home.

Thoughts? Weigh in!

JG


Random question today – just wondering how long you’ve been in your current youth worker position at your church. Would love for you to participate – wondering if the average snapshot here will exceed the much-maligned statistic about 9 months before we move on to the next church. Vote now!

JG



Just  finished up reading Greg Stier’s new book: Firing Jesus. It was a quick read (less than 2 hours) of a youth ministry fable where the youth pastor is on the chopping block after some questionable decisions in his youth ministry. The book is basically the board meeting discussions surrounding what to do with JC. I loved the book – partially because there are 3-4 really solid learnings in there and also because there were familiar echoes of my own story throughout. A good quick read from Dare 2 Share!

JG

If you have a volunteer who refuses your leadership, subverts your authority and doesn’t respond to coaching … it might be time to let them go. If you missed yesterday’s part 1 you may want to start there, and here are 5 other learnings I’m processing after recently asking a volunteer to step down:

7) THINK ABOUT COMMUNICATING THEIR EXIT: When people ask me what happened, it’s important to be honest but also respectful. I asked specifically what they would like me to communicate with students and other leaders if people asked. It was helpful to agree on a kind, but truthful communication that will give a clear picture for my students and other leaders. Perhaps the most important communication should be with the person we directly report to. It’s important that they are in the loop and have a clear understanding…

8) EXPECT SOME FALL-OUT: We should expect some fall-out. Again, it is always better than the long-term struggles and challenges of allowing a divisive leader to continue. This person is loved by a number of students and I know that some will take it hard. However, time will heal and God will always provide great adults to fill the void. In the past when I have asked someone to step down, the fall-out is often short lived.

9) BE CLEAR AND DON’T COMPROMISE: Because asking someone to leave can be so challenging, it’s important that our guilt or compassion does not lead to letting them stay. If we have struggled through and prayed earnestly, it’s important to stick to what God has called you to do. Today I was asked to reconsider, but I had to be clear that I had prayed for two months about this decision… I was not able to change it.

10) KEEP YOUR SUPERVISOR IN THE LOOP: I gave my pastor a quick heads up that I would be asking this person to step down. I gave him a quick reasoning, and fortunately he is someone who supports his staff and decisions. Either way when you’re going to

11) I AM NOT ALONE: You are not alone either! As you struggle with volunteers, parents, or people at your church, know that there are many like you going through the same struggles. There are many who have gone before us who have navigated through these situations and have survived to tell the tale. Today, I navigated through a challenging conversation, and I am thankful for ministry friends to unload on!

This guest post was written by Anonymous.



Asking one of the volunteers in your youth ministry to step down is probably an idea that makes you cringe. Without a doubt it is is something that many youth workers struggle through, and I thought it might be helpful to share my experience. It wasn’t that long ago I asked a volunteer to leave my ministry. It was not an easy thing to do… but sometimes the tough conversations have to happen and we should not run away from conflict or difficult conversations like this.

For the last year I have struggled with a leader who has constantly rejected the vision, plans, and purposes of our church and youth ministry. She has been continually divisive with me and other volunteers. I wanted to share with you a little bit about what I’ve learned after walking through this process. There are 11 things, the first 6 today and the remaining 5 tomorrow. Hope it is helpful to you:

1) TAKE YOUR TIME TO WORK THROUGH THE STRUGGLE: We all have different personalities and opinions! Sometimes difficult people are just different from us. Right? It’s imperative that we take time to struggle through to see what is the real issue. It’s also important that we are not too rash or quick to fire people just because they do not think like we do…

2) PRAY EARNESTLY ABOUT WHAT TO DO: Before the summer I met with this person to express challenges I was experiencing. Rather than get into a big debate about the issues, I simply asked them to pray over the summer about their involvement this coming Fall. I have been praying for the last two months and God has provided great clarity.

3) DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY – IT’S MINISTRY: It’s easy to get ticked off with people when they don’t take our leadership seriously. However, isn’t that expected? Should we be surprised when we deal with messy people and relationships? I have to remind myself not to take it personally, it’s just ministry.

4) MEET THEM FACE-TO-FACE: No matter what, always meet face to face. Today, I was able to gain so much understanding by seeing a their reaction when I shared with them. It was also imperative that they could see my face and my care for them as I asked them to step down…

5) EXPECT IT TO BE MESSY: I have never had anyone thank me for “firing” them. This morning went well, but it was still messy and painful. Even though it is messy today, it’s good to consider the ongoing challenges if I were to continue to have a volunteer like this continue to be a part of the ministry. The messiness of today is far less than the messiness of the next year if they were to stay in the ministry…

6) LOVE WELL: As I prayed about this situation, I specifically asked God to give me a heart for this person. As I sat across from them today, I was able to carefully and gently talk to them and consider their best interests as we navigated through the painful reality…

This guest post was written by Anonymous.

We’ve all been there.
Maybe it was that relationship.. the one that cut us deep. The one, because it hurt us so much, we swore that we would never be in another relationship.
Or maybe it was that ‘dream job‘ that you wanted. You felt so good about it.. you had that ‘gut’ instinct that it was going to work out. And then, you get that dreaded phone call. That one where the hopeful future employer said.. “thanks.. but no thanks.”
Or perhaps.. it was that loan. You felt that you had your ducks in a row, and that you were going to be able to be approved for a new loan (home, car, student.. whichever.) But then.. you weren’t approved. It felt like a slap in the face…
Maybe it was that time that you shared a belief or an opinion with a close friend; or maybe even a family member. You believed it in so much, you had such passion, and you were sure of it.. absolutely positive that they would agree with you… and they didn’t. Rejection.

It hits us all. And sometimes.. we don’t expect it. Other times, … we have a gut feeling that it will happen.. but we still hope for the best. Regardless.. it happens. And so the question comes up.. “Now what? “How do I respond to this… How CAN I respond to this..?” We can respond full of bitterness and anger, or full of love, forgiveness and understanding. We can respond looking to ‘get them back..’ for what they did (whomever, whatever..) or we can choose to respond by.. maybe not responding at all? Regardless of how you’ve been rejected and from what (job, relationship, opinion, etc..) I think there are some key things that we can learn here..
1. Live/Serve/Continue on where you are successfully.
I understand that in every context, this is different.. but the main point is this. You’ve been rejected. So, continue on in life as if you weren’t.
  • If it’s financially, start to (and continue to) make wise budget choices.
  • If it’s in a relationship.. live the best life you know how to (.. and choose to fill that need for someone with God..)
  • If it’s a job – continue to be where you are.. and LOVE it.(Especially if you’re in a full time ministry position. You are CALLED there for this time. Own it, Love it.)
2. Don’t Give Up
Continue to live and serve where you are (in every sense of the word) – but look forward. The minute we stop looking forward is the second that we find ourselves in a rut. So, plan for the future.
Many of ‘us’ in Youth Ministry are in a transition period. There are friends all over the globe that are either in between jobs, or looking for a new one. To you, I encourage you with this: Continue to search. But don’t search for a ‘new place.’ Search for God’s leading. Continue to serve faithfully, and plan ahead… Don’t Give Up. Both on your dream (and God’s call) .. but also where you are.

3. Talk About It.
We were created for community. We were created to share life with others. And so, when you have been rejected, and you have that feeling that the whole world is against you… the last thing you should be doing is secluding yourself and building walls around you. Reach out. Talk. Commuicate. Share with trusted friends what is going on. And ask for help. Never, EVER, be too prideful that you can’t ask for help.
Rejection will come.. and go. Rejection is something that can either make us or break us. It’s how you respond that will determine that. How are YOU responding?
Andy Disher is a youth worker, avid Simply Youth Ministry Podcast listener and Twitterer.