Hey Simply Insiders, we have a sweet guest post today from our friends Jake and Melissa Kircher. Read up!

Nora_newborn-18 By Jake and Melissa Kircher

Whatever you call it: volunteering, serving, a two-for-one, ministering, or just plain old helping out…the spouse of a youth pastor is often expected to jump into the ministry world with both feet. Sometimes this works well for a couple, and their marriage thrives in this type of environment. But there are also plenty of spouses who feel forced into youth ministry roles that don’t mesh with their personalities, talents, and/or spiritual gifts.

So does the spouse of a youth pastor have to serve in the youth group?

Well no. And yes. No, you don’t have to be the volunteer equivalent of your youth pastor spouse, but you do need to fully support their ministry. You’re in this marriage thing together, and so you must be in agreement about major life goals and decisions. And as any youth pastor will tell you: Youth ministry is a way of life!

What does this mean practically? It means that each spouse has unique gifts, talents, and abilities and should use them accordingly. If the non-ministry spouse doesn’t feel they are supposed to work with youth, this should be communicated to church leadership. The spouse can then integrate into the church in a different area. The church’s governing bodies must support this, or it will lead to numerous issues both in the ministry and in your marriage. Take it from us; we learned this lesson the hard way.

But the non-ministry spouse should be supportive of the youth group—even if he or she isn’t a regular volunteer. They need to be on board with the job and all of its ever-changing demands, quirky hours, and challenging students. These kids will be a part of your life as a married couple, no matter what, and just because you’re not a youth leader doesn’t mean that you can check out of church life. Figure out ways that you can interact with youth groupers and also be yourself. Maybe this means mentoring one girl or boy. Maybe it means bringing your own children with you to youth group once a month. Or simply having a teenager and his/her family over for dinner when the opportunity arises.

You have to be yourself, even if that’s not a youth worker. But you also have to love, support, and embrace the fact that youth ministry will definitely be a part of your life.

-Jake and Melissa Kircher

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Want to make your spouse happy and be in youth ministry for a long time? 3-4 times a year spend an hour or two synchronizing your family + youth ministry calendars together. Spent some time this morning doing the same!

JG



Michael Conaway sent along a great post his wife wrote on her blog that I really enjoyed this morning. You Might be a Youth Pastor’s Wife If is a fun post, totally relatable that begs for you to add a couple of your own. Here’s a couple of my favorites, head there for the rest:

1. You schedule your pregnancies around youth camp. Being down one parent every other week for 2 months is difficult enough, no need to add a newborn to the picture.

5. When your toddler says “crap” in the church nursery and you let the nursery workers assume she heard it from the teenagers…even though you know where she REALLY heard it…mental note to self stop saying “crap”.

10. Taking students home after church becomes a game to beat your best time and not cross the midline of town more than once. Students are divided based on gender and location. Who takes which vehicle is based on who has to take more students home.

JG

Plan Your Time Off Now

Josh Griffin —  September 17, 2012 — 2 Comments

This week we’re on the topic of time off—and one of the best ways to make sure you use your vacation time in the hectic youth ministry world is to plan your vacation: RIGHT NOW.

That’s right…put some dates on the family and church calendar today and reserve your right to get away. Look for an opening (if you’re like us there will only be a couple of choices anyhow), and stake your claim.

Plan a weekend getaway.
Weekends off in the church context are rare, so find something fun to do that will really refresh you to keep going in the long haul. If you’re smart you’ll find a 3-day weekend and really make something special out of it. Make some memories in those 48-hours you’re off the grid.

Plan some time with just your spouse.
We’re shocked at how often we hear our fellow youth workers share that it has been YEARS since they slipped away for a night with their spouse… without their kids. Getting alone time isn’t easy, but it’s well worth it (for all sorts of reasons!). Can’t get away overnight? How about a regular date night? Can’t afford a regular date night? Then do it on the cheap (Netflix, anyone?), but DO IT.

Plan something refreshing right after the busiest season.
After summer camp you need to build in some comp time for yourself. Give yourself a day or two break when you come off a big event to acclimate to the real world. This summer we both took some extended time off after one of the busiest seasons of ministry we’ve ever had. And we planned it months ago so our families knew the reprieve was coming soon.

Your context and freedoms are different than ours, but grab your calendar right now and block out something next month and something next year. No joke. Do it right now!

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.



This is my favorite week of the year – I’m sitting in a hotel room in Palm Desert at our annual Student Ministries Retreat. It is a life-giving week that our church gives the people who serve youth workers and their spouses. While we have no formal sabbatical (how do I get in on that, come on!) but this is so generous.

So I’ve got a few blog posts set to land while I’m gone – but thought a quick list of a few past articles about vacation, comp time and retreat might be helpful. Here’s some of my favorite stuff on this topic in the past here on MTDB:

JG

Love Your Spouse

Josh Griffin —  February 23, 2012 — 1 Comment

Married? Not married? Not married, and haven’t had a date in years? Wherever you find yourself today, here are some thoughts about loving your current…or future…spouse.

Love unexpectedly.
Youth workers love surprises–but too often our spouses end up with the predictable and stable part of our lives. While there’s nothing wrong with stability, it’s also a good idea to take the same creativity that helps you think up crazy games and invent an unexpected way to love your spouse. This week, make it a goal to love your husband or wife in an unexpected, surprising way.

Love your spouse in front of your students.
There’s nothing wrong with letting your students see that you love your husband or wife. That doesn’t mean you need to incessantly refer to them as “hot” (that’s actually a pet-peeve of ours, and our wives ARE hot), or make out with them in the church van on the way to the retreat. But it’s important to remember that your students are watching your relationship; it might be the most important lesson you teach them all week.

Love your spouse in front of your kids.
Same thing goes with your own children (if you’ve got them). They need to see you in love with each other, too. That doesn’t mean that everything in the home is perfect, but through the good, bad, and the ugly you share a loving commitment to each other and to Christ.

Love your spouse when no one is watching.
A consistent loving relationship can’t only show up when people are watching. Make sure you love your spouse when you aren’t trying to be a role model to your teenager. Youth ministry takes a toll on marriages. Sadly we’ve seen it first-hand far too many times. One of the best ways to model healthy marriage within your ministry context is to do the hard work of building a healthy marriage behind the scenes.

Love wins every time!

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.



I’m so glad Amanda is back to blogging! After too long away from it this summer, her blog Married to a Youth Pastor is back and better than ever. In addition to a funny new contest giving away a spouse registration to the Simply Youth Ministry Conference, she is back with some insight and raw learnings about youth ministry from a wife’s perspective. Honestly, turn your spouse on to her blog, it is so good – if I find one as awesome for husbands, I’ll be sure to post a link. Here’s a clip of a post called Swept Away where she talks about dialing in the youth ministry calendar with their family one:

We (Jeff and I) HAVE to take control of our schedules and family again. No more excuses of “seasons”. Something “important”, and “urgent” is always going to come up. We have to exercise our “NO”. I have to take responsibility of this as well. I let myself get lost in the shuffle. In no way is this only Jeff’s issue. I have a voice as well. And a smart brain that listens to God’s voice and can hear what’s good and bad or unhealthy for myself, my marriage, and my kids. I really got swept away (and right under the carpet).

I say this a lot… “After 14 years in full time ministry, you’d think I would have this down!”

JG

You don’t have to be a youth worker very long before you feel the urge to quit. The challenges of ministry swirl together to create a daunting vortex of difficulty – church politics, ineffective leadership, slashed or non-existent budgets, elders, “the way it has always been”, conflicting visions, personality clashes, relational pain and so much more. I realize I’m not painting a beautiful picture of youth ministry right now, so hang with me.

I would say for most it hits somewhere around the end of your first year – for me it was a couple years in. The honeymoon was over and I got my first taste of church ugliness. You start to think about quitting. You’re just not sure you’re cut out for it. You wonder if the elders on the church board are even Christians.

I’ve quit many times before – only to be brought back to life by 1) realizing the problem could be overcome, 2) the words or encouragement from a close friend, or 3) realizing that ministry isn’t pretty or easy, but I’m called to it. If you’re feeling pretty low, I hope these point you in the right direction today:

Fight through it
Get behind the feelings of failure or frustration – are you ready to quit over a problem you created, a person you loathe or a situation that seems beyond repair? Throwing in the towel is an impulsive decision that has been thought about for a long time. [I realize that sentence doesn't make sense, but I really like it]. One final person, comment or failure pushes you off the cliff – the only choice you have left is to call it quits. But don’t settle for simply giving into the barrage of emotion. Is it really the end of the world as we know it? Is there really no hope? Is God truly done with you where you’re at? Be careful to test your emotions and motives when the going gets tough – you might be surprised what you find a little deeper under the surface. It probably is about half as bad as you think it is. Still bad, but worth fighting through.

Surround yourself with people you love
The biggest rescuer of my urges to quit are the teammates that I love. Surrounding yourself with great co-laborers is absolutely key. My spouse is number one – when I’m down she knows what to say, when not to say anything and what to ask to get me out of my funk. My team is a close second – people that I serve with every day in the trenches of youth ministry. Some of the people that share my passion, hopes, dreams and frustrations of ministry pick me up. Do you have some key people on your volunteer team that you love being around? Do you have a safe place to vent or talk through a situation? Our family loved having dinner with an amazing couple and their daughters this past week. Absolutely life-giving.

Remember your calling
I have a moment … that whenever I feel like quitting I hold on to. I was sitting in the Dean of Men’s office at the college I was attending, he simply said, “Josh, you would make a great youth pastor. Why are you going into business?” That conversation led me on a journey to what would eventually be a divine calling into youth ministry. That key mentor in my life pointed me to an opportunity, we prayed, God answered. I’ve served in 2 churches since then (one in Michigan, the other here at Saddleback) and have both had incredible highs and lows – and I remember my calling vividly when things get tough. Why did you get into youth ministry in the first place? Hopefully there is a memory or spiritual moment where you recall God calling you to serve His children. Maybe at first you just volunteered, and God did something in your heart. Maybe you’re still volunteering, but you know you’ve been chosen for this work.

Seems like I’ve been getting more and more emails from youth workers ready to throw in the towel. Maybe God is moving you? Certainly could be. Maybe it is a test of your character and He wants you to stay put? Either way – honored to be in the same profession with you, my friend. Hang in there.

Help someone who’s ready to quit youth ministry with a thought/encouragement in the comments, too.

JG