General Ministry
Josh Griffin

Too often I hear youth workers say something like, “I love my youth group, but I wouldn’t go to church here if it wasn’t my job.” I honestly understand this sentiment, and realize that most of the time it is just a season of frustration with the style or leadership in a given period of time. But sometimes it isn’t a light statement, it is actually very serious. And if you find yourself in this situation, I think you’ve only got about three choices:

Get on board
I’d start with you – maybe you need a change of heart. Have some dialogue with the powers that be in your church to better understand the context of their decisions and choices. Perhaps you are frustrated out of ignorance and a little more knowledge will help you get a bigger picture of what they are trying to accomplish. Style preferences are unavoidable, some things you just have to learn to live with. You’ll never lose with humility so it is a good place to start.

Lead the change
Different opinions and outside perspective can be healthy to a church – being divisive behind the scenes certainly isn’t. If you’re frustrated with your church to the point you may even reconsider serving there, be a part of the solution and not the problem. Maybe you stepping up is exactly what the church needs to help them in a time of transition. Help lead the change.

Get out
This one isn’t to be taken lightly, but perhaps literally. If you wouldn’t attend the church you are the youth worker at and have no desire to lead them into a time of transition – get out. Don’t take a paycheck from the church, tithe money, if you aren’t all in. Remember a period of frustration isn’t worth leaving over, if youth workers did that our tenure would be even worse. But if there’s no hope and you’ve done all you can, it might be time to ask God what is next.

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What do you think? Open to discussion/objections in the comments. Fire away!


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  • adam mclane says:

    Um… not tell ANYONE! 🙂

  • Chris Bowditch says:

    This is a tough place to be. I reckon one thing to do is to do better at finding out what the church is like before you start. What is their vision, how will they support you and develop you? If they don’t know either of these things your going to start feeling like you don’t belong much more quickly than simply a difference in service style or something.
    I’ve been in a situation where I’ve nearly left many times and felt like I wouldnt go to the church if it wasn’t for the pay cheque. I’ve stayed a while and learnt heaps about myself, my strengths and shortcomings and God. I’ve probably learnt far more than if I had been doing it easy.
    But your right. There does come a time when you’ve learnt enough and have to leave.

  • Terrace Crawford says:

    What a great post. I couldn’t have said this better myself.

    I know many youth workers will benefit from reading this because I’ve talked to many of them who feel this way.


  • Mia says:

    I am reminded every time I go to a conference or speak with anyone in ministry, how incredibly blessed I am to work at the church I am at. My sr. pastor gives us the room and authority to do what we need to do. He has built a staff that carry out his 40K foot vision, and we are all very real.
    I loved my church as an attender, then a youth volunteer, and then a staff member. I know there are times to go, but maybe my view is different because it isn’t just a job – just an employer – we are family. I worked in the corporate healthcare machine for 10 years before a career change to ministry so my take is different. Perhaps one should evaluate if they are being called to move or if they are just stuck in a rut. If you’re with family, and you aren’t being called somewhere else, would you leave your family, or would you try to stick it out and fix it? Just a thought.

  • Lucas says:

    I’ve been in this particular church for 4 years and things have gotten really rough. The church is divided – some for our senior pastor, others are openly asking him to leave. I’ve been looking to move on for a little while now but things are just not opening up. Would you ever just resign before you’ve found another church (and job) to minister at?

  • Tim says:

    well, sometimes you could be called to a church that you wouldn’t normally attend, just like a missionary is called to a missions field that she might not typically live in. i serve in a youth ministry at a church with practically no fellowship (there are few people who attend there of the same cultural background, age group, or even native language), and our family has chosen to make that sacrifice for the benefit of the youth there.

  • Jason says:

    After serving as a youth pastor for two years and watching the class of ’09 and ’10 leave “the church” because it wasn’t “their church” it was their youth group, but the difference between Wednesdays and Sundays and the difference between me and the lead pastor were too great, I decided there had to be a better way.
    I would submit that option 3 is the right option more often than not. You know how it feels when one of your youth leaders try to change the youth group, why do the same thing to the lead pastor? If you don’t trust the leadership of your church, find a new church. You aren’t their Holy Spirit and you are limiting yourself from being fully used and you are limiting someone else who could be used in that position who would ge ton board w/ that church and the lead pastor.
    My .02

  • Greg says:

    Lucas: I’ve recently been in a similar position. You can email me if you want someone to talk to. If not, then know that I’ll be praying for you. greg[at]gdthrasher.com

    Great post! Before coming to my current church, I felt like I could never serve at the church I was attending. Now, God has called me to serve at a church which I would love to attend!

  • […] This post from last week got a fair amount of traffic/energy from some youth workers, so thought I would base this week’s poll on the same question: if you weren’t a youth worker at your current church, would you attend there? […]

  • Mollie says:

    Lucas: We were in a position at our last church where my husband heard God tell him that it was time to move on. He dragged his feet for a bit (no new job yet!) and then he clearly heard God tell him to get out. So, he did. He didn’t have a job for 5 months, but it was a great lesson in humility, obedience, and blind faith! God is always faithful- we just had to be the ones to have a little extra trust!!

  • Kyle says:

    I read this article when it first was posted and it rubbed me the wrong way, but also resonated truth. I was confused and have given it some thought and really came to a conclusion. What I discovered was that the reason you might not attend a church if you weren’t a pastor is really the tell of how you should respond.

    1. Philosophy – If you have a different philosophy of ministry, this is the perfect article to know what to do.

    2. Beliefs – If you differ in beliefs, and its big enough that you wouldn’t attend if you weren’t serving, then option 3 is really the right answer.

    3. Social – If you would not attend because the social groups are not in the same place as you, whether age, interests, etc, then this is not something that you should leave the church about. I think this is what Tim was referring to. Going out of your social comfort zone to be in an environment that is a bit foreign in order to share Christ…that is BIblical and I would advise against leaving because of this.

    4. Staff Relations – I think in this case, the list above is important too…work it out or leave.

  • JG says:

    Great insight! Thanks for sharing this…

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