4 Ways to Keep Your Youth Pastor for the Long Haul

The Gospel Coalition | 8/18/2019 | Syler Thomas
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Being a youth pastor at one church for the entirety of my ministry career is one of the greatest blessings of my life.

My first students are now in their late-30s. I’ve baptized them, married them, and seen them raise their own kids. My own kids (whom they babysat back in the day) now babysit their kids. Some serve as volunteer leaders in the ministry.

Lord - Psalmist - Prayer - Life - God

I feel like the Lord has answered the psalmist’s prayer in my life: “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation” (Ps. 71:18). I’m just a few years away from being able to minister to the children of my former students. I never would have anticipated it, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I appear to be one of the exceptions.

Youth-pastor - Turnover - Door - Churches - Youth

Youth-pastor turnover remains very real. The revolving door continues to spin at the churches all around me. People find out I’ve been a youth pastor at one place for this long and it’s like they’ve seen a UFO. But I never set out to stay at one place for this long. In fact, I never set out to be a youth pastor.

I fell in love with youth ministry accidentally. I needed a job out of seminary, and this random church up the road needed a youth pastor. Fine, I’ll do this for a year till something else comes along, I thought.

Years

That was 21 years ago.

I can’t take credit for staying here as long as I have. In fact, I’ve tried to leave a couple times, but the doors I thought were opening elsewhere got slammed shut. Nevertheless, a number of key factors have contributed to my “unintended” longevity.

Factors - Leader

Four important factors have kept me around. If you’re reading this as a leader in...
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