When Is It Time To Leave Your Youth Ministry?

If you regularly read this blog you know I have taken a one month break from blogging as I transitioned out of my previous youth ministry position and into a new position as family life pastor. During this time it’s been important for me to transition well and ensure that my new ministry (and my family of course), has been my main focus. In the next few weeks, there will be more posts…

Exit Youth Ministry

Since transitioning, (and before), I have often been asked this question, or seen it posted on youth ministry forums:

“When is it time to leave my youth ministry.”

I’ll be honest, this is not an easy question for someone else to answer. Ultimately, God is the one who leads and directs, and we should be asking Him this question.

It’s also imperative that each of us seek Him to discern the difference between an opportunity to grow compared to an opportunity to go…

While it is God who directs, here are five questions I have prayed through in my time in youth ministry:

1) Is God clearly calling you elsewhere? Personally, I feel this is the best question to ask. A mentor of mine once said, “It is always best to leave because you are clearly called elsewhere… It’s definitely not good to leave somewhere just because it’s challenging.”

When we spend time investing in students, parents, and volunteers, it’s not easy to simply walk away without feeling a sense of loss. To be able to leave your ministry because of a clear calling is always (in my opinion), the best way to leave.

2) Have you accomplished all that God has called you to complete? Can you honestly say that your work there is done? This question is helpful to discern the difference between a desire to leave due to challenging reasons compared to the stirring to leave because there is a sense of completeness in your ministry. When you and I can look back feel that sense of accomplishment, it is great feeling.

3) Is there an integrity issue with your senior pastor or leadership? Unfortunately, this can and does happen. If you have seen a pattern that shows a lack of integrity, it might be time to consider your options. However, it’s also important to consider how your consistent leadership could be called on if that leader was to leave (or asked to leave) at some point.

Leaders who lack integrity will always be seen for what they are… They will either lose the the following of people over time, or they will be found out.

4) Are you utterly opposed to the vision the church? If you knew the vision before you took the position, it’s good to learn a lesson for next time. If you are utterly opposed to the vision and direction and do not feel you can confidently implement what is being asked of you, it’s probably time to allow you and your church to move forward. Just as Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways, sometimes it’s better for the ministry if you do the same.

Before you leave, ask yourself and honest question though:

Is it an issue with vision, or is it an issue that you have with authority? If it is the latter, you will find the same struggle everywhere you go…

5) Is your family suffering because of your ministry? No one said ministry would be easy. In fact, we should expect trials of many kinds because we are on the frontline of a battle. There will be times when our family goes through challenges of many kinds. However, it’s important to consider whether God is calling you to grow through this season, or whether your family is in a place that is proving to be perpetually unhealthy…

Finally, it God who leads and direct. We should be careful to discern His lead and calling. In my experience, the decision to leave a ministry is one that should be taken with a great deal of prayer and involvement from mentors and close friends.

What would you add to this list? How did you know it was time for you to move on?

Phil <><

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