As a youth leader on a local and district level, the topic of longevity in youth ministry comes up often. Many good reasons to stay abound. We get to know the people in our church, we get to know the church leadership and staff more closely and we develop relationships with these people who are instrumental in advancing the ministry.
One youth pastor I heard about has developed such a good relationship with the principal of the local high school that he’s now able to do almost anything he wants within that school. He, and those who know him, attributes this to his longevity.
Other great reasons exist, but I want to explore one very good reason. This reason applies to those who are genuinely called to youth ministry and have a true heart for students. Students desire and need, as we all do, ongoing, enduring relationships.
When I came to the church where I youth pastor now, I was the third youth pastor that some of those students had encountered. Needless to say building relationships with some of them involved a long process. I won’t judge those who left before after such a short time—one stayed only ten months—however the students suffered an impact some of which still remains today.
Students have asked my wife and me such questions as “How long are you guys staying?”
The only way to convince students that we are going to stay is by—staying. We all have need for long lasting, ongoing relationships like the one Jesus offers when he said I will never leave you or forsake you.
Obviously we cannot be with them forever like Jesus but we can do as good a job as possible mirroring Him. Faith is a key to staying where you are, because many seemingly good reasons happen along the way that make us want to run and never look back. I know because I have been in that place many times. My love for students has caused me to weather a few storms, because they do not need another upset or severed tie.
So maybe the thought of leaving has crossed your mind and you are at a place where you want to leave—I hope you will reconsider and remember we all need ongoing, lasting relationships we can count on—especially teens. If you can provide that, eventually you will become ‘tops’ with your students and will experience and enjoy the many other benefits of longevity